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Hollywood Dead by Richard Kadrey
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There are plenty of things about the 21st century that I despise, what with its thousand-dollar smart phones and two-bit stupid presidents. One of the things I could do without is the overabundance of books with numbers in the titles. I realize that the “series-book” isn’t a new idea; authors in the genres of mystery, fantasy and sci-fi have long been the home of multiple entries that follow this private detective or that game of thrones. But ever since the Harry Potter series conquered the planet Earth, more authors than ever have turned their keyboards into milking machines, squeezing away in a desperate grab for cash long after the creativity udder has been rung bone-dry. That’s what makes me so surprised that I’m not only on the tenth book in Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series, but I still enjoy my annual visits to a Los Angeles that makes a fine neighbor to the one Raymond Chandler brought to life. While Kadrey doesn’t mind tipping his hat to Chandler’s timeless L.A. noir detective Philip Marlowe (as well as an obvious salute to the gloriously-violent crime thrillers Donald Westlake wrote under the pen-name of Richard Stark), he puts his own supernatural stamp on the City of Angels with angels of his own, as well as demons, spirits, magicians, a few zombies here and there and every now and again God pops in for a cameo.
I can’t say that every book in this series manages to hit it out of the park, and that would include this one. There’s no looming supernatural apocalypse to keep the storytelling focused in Hollywood Dead. Then again, a series of books like this one needs to take a breath every now and again, because even apocalypes can wear thin after awhile. This book is mostly concerned with James Stark’s return to the land of the living after he was killed in… the eighth book, I think? I do remember the last book was set in Hell, Kadrey’s second-favorite destination that’s more or less Los Angeles with a few more damned souls and much worse cell-phone reception. That’s the biggest problem I have with “number-books” that not even Kadrey’s series can escape. I read the last book, as well as the eight others before it, but I didn’t memorize them. By the time a year has passed and a new volume comes out, I’ve read a lot of books in between and I get a little foggy on exactly where the story left off and what the many recurring characters were up to. Kadrey does a pretty seamless job of keeping the reader up to speed without an obvious waste of time on tedious recaps of everything that came before, but it can still be a frustrating experience for someone who prefers a story with a beginning, middle and end between its two covers. So, Sandman Slim is temporarily resurrected by members of the Wormwood Corporation and he’s got to kill a bunch of people or he’ll lose his permanent pass back to the land of the living. His girlfriend Candy has moved on to a new relationship and that one religious-zealot bad-guy from five or six books ago pops back up. This doesn’t have much to do with a review. These are just my notes I can check back on when the next book pops up a year from now so maybe I won’t be as lost as I usually am.
I listened to the audiobook version of Hollywood Dead as I have all the other books in this series, and that’s another reason I keep coming back for more. Kadrey has found the perfect narrator in MacLeod Andrews. Just as Kadrey offers homage to the classic noir of page and screen without giving in to slavish imitation, Andrews gives a note-perfect reading of a world-weary LA tough guy without turning into a cartoon character Hollywood gumshoe stereotype. I haven’t run into any other authors toiling away in the “urban paranormal” field as good at writing as Kadrey is and few that do as good a job at reading them as MacLeod Andrews.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
August 26, 2018 – Finished Reading
August 30, 2018 – Shelved
August 30, 2018 – Shelved as: reviewed

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