Marc Weidenbaum's Reviews > Kill the Dead

Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
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Sep 18, 2012

Read in September, 2012

Second in Richard Kadrey's ongoing Sandman Slim series about a hardboiled quasi-angel stuck between warring factions from Heaven and Hell. The character's human name is James Stark, after the pseudonym of hardboiled writer Donald Westlake. Westlake's Stark is best known for his Parker series, and it's something of a humorous thread through Kadrey's series that despite being a mass killer, a veteran of Hell's arenas, and an "abomination" of a metaphysical hybrid, Stark is also quite concerned about humanity, more than he ever allows himself to acknowledge — and certainly more than Westlake's Parker, whose selfishness would make Ayn Rand seriously consider handing out Occupy flyers at a Telegraph Avenue corner in Berkeley. While the close of this second Sandman Slim book may find Kadrey's anti-anti-hero back at the Los Angeles bar that is his secondary residence, much has shifted. That's to the book's credit. In most of the Parker novels, routine is all — a procedural prison built for a man who makes his living avoiding prisons — but here there's a sense that things are moving forward, changing, and something heavy that way looms. Between start and finish are: a government agency led by a war-hungry angel, at least three varieties of zombie, a movie deal for Lucifer, an extended undead riff on Chinatown and The Godfather, the sort of gadgets that's underworld spinoff would cover, and the usual cast of friends whom Stark keeps at a distance, not all of whom come out alive.
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