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Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
Cover Artist: Arcangel Images / Will Staehle
Review by Steve Sawicki
Eos Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061976261
Date: 01 May 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Our Sept. 2008 Review / Show Official Info /

James Stark was a natural magician. He fell in with a group of magicians fooling around in Los Angeles. Except one of the magicians had big plans and Stark seemed to be in the way. So, Stark was sent to Hell. For eleven years. Where he became the plaything of demons. And where the old saw about that which does not kill you only making you stronger seemed to be true. Eleven years later, Stark has killed his way out of hell and he's back in Los Angeles. He's looking for revenge and he means to find it.

It's the day after Christmas and Stark already has his first present, a guy named Kasabian who was there the night that the leader of the Magicians, a guy named Mason, sent Stark to Hell. Stark separates Kasabian's head from his body with a demon knife. This allows Kasabian to remain alive. If you can call having your head apart from your body living. Stark needs answers and Kasabian starts giving them. The problem is, can a bodiless head be trusted to give you good information? And can Stark, after eleven years in Hell, manage to get his revenge without getting sent back? Only time will tell and not that much of it either, as Stark has an itch that needs an immediate scratch. Of course in eleven years things have changed, people have changed, some are more powerful and others have fallen to the wayside. Stark doesn't really care just so long as they end up in front of him and point the way to Mason.

Kadrey has a lot of fun with the book. He's created a protagonist that doesn't care about much and what he doesn't care about he really doesn't care about. He's also returned from Hell with some formidable skills and tools. Of course a great protagonist is nothing without a great struggle and Kadrey provides that as well, in the form of Mason who has plans for world destruction and universal domination. Kadrey is not afraid of language and of letting his characters be politically incorrect when needed. This lends great flavor to the book and a naked realism to the writing.

I liked this book a lot. I'm a bit leery these days of picking up the next best supernatural novel by a new writer. My expectations are pretty low. And it's rare these days when a book demands to be read, is hard to put down and insists on being finished as soon as possible because the writing and the story are just that good. This is the case with this book. Kadrey has a winner here and hopefully there are more to come as I would love to see what Stark, alias Sandman Slim, is capable of. Highly recommended.

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