Review – Sandman Slim Series by Richard Kadrey

  1. Sandman Slim (2009)
  2. Kill The Dead (2010)
  3. Aloha from Hell (2011)
  4. Devil in the Dollhouse (2012)
  5. Devil Said Bang (2012)
  6. Kill City Blues (2013)
  7. The Getaway God (2014)
  8. Killing Pretty (2015)
  9. The Perdition Score (2016)

Urban fantasy is a favourite genre of mine – what if there was magic and monsters in our world peeking around the corners?  This can be hidden by Government conspiracies (Laundry files, Chequery), monsters on the fringes (Dresden, Otherworld), or a world like ours transformed (Sookie Stackhouse, The Hollows).  It has a strong overlap with the paranormal romance genre, but most often delves into the realm of the procedural: be it PI’s, government agencies, or bounty hunters.

Often the biggest problem in the genre is power creep; since the books are procedural episodes, the next antagonist is bigger and scarier, and by a dozen books in, the down on his luck PI wizard is practically a genocidal walking god (I’m looking at you Harry Dresden).  The test of the longevity of these series is therefore how well the series can ‘level up’ the main character while keeping them interesting.

All of which is a long way of getting to what makes the Sandman Slim books so great.  Sandman Slim starts at 11 and doesn’t let off.  He’s a guy who has come back from being dropped in hell while still alive, wanting revenge.  A magician who spent a decade in Hell’s arenas and wanders round beating up on angels and cthonic horrors with his bare hands from the get go.

The books are propulsive in their plotting, and even the moments of reflection pull the story along.  He knows what he wants, and he kicks ass to get it, regardless of whether the plot is a revenge tale, a procedural, a monster hunt, a McGuffin quest, or a showdown.  Sandman Slim is a straightforward character, but he feels well developed, exhibiting the right mixture of directness, cunning, and vulnerability you want from an action hero.  The books develop a large supporting cast and they are all interesting and often surprising.

There are a few negatives to the book.  Sometimes the writing in the early volumes is a bit awkward and under-serves the female cast, the world feels like it might fall apart if you look at it too closely, and it strains credulity that he is as likely to go toe to toe with a god as be threatened by a few guys with guns.  Oh, and unfortunately his prime motivation in the first couple of books is the fridging of his girl.  However these are relatively minor complaints in what is the literary equivalent of a better than it needs to be summer action movie.

 

Recommended for those looking to turn their brain off and go for a ride.1


  1. Read October-November 2016, Cover by Crush Creative.

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