The Perdition Score (Sandman Slim)
by Richard Kadrey
Cover Artist: Crush Creative
Review by Wes Breazeale
Harper Voyager Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062373267
Date: 28 June 2016 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Other than acting as a source of adaptations, books and television have very little in common. One area they overlap though, is the way in which a series of books can mimic the narrative arc of a series of episodes. Fantasy and SF shows in particular, as well as the ubiquitous police procedurals, follow the ever popular "monster of the week" approach. Eventually though, if these shows last long enough, they incorporate some greater, overarching narrative that ties everything together. From the X-Files to Sleepy Hollow, CSI to Person of Interest, this is a tried and true approach. The success of such an approach varies however, and can at times bog a good show down and paint itself into a corner with convoluted plotlines that are difficult to resolve.
How, you are likely now asking yourself, does this apply to Richard Kadrey's latest book, The Perdition Score? Kadrey's Sandman Slim novels in many ways feature the best and worst of this episodic approach, as it applies to books. As the series has grown longer the overarching plot has grown more complex, tangled and deep--to the point that it wasn't really possible for anyone to pick up a book and jump right in.
With his last Sandman Slim book, Killing Pretty, and now The Perdition Score, Kadrey has in some ways rebooted the series (to borrow another TV and film term). The characters are the same, their past experiences and development have been retained, but they help inform character decisions in an entirely new set of circumstances. Granted, Kadrey has introduced a new overarching narrative, this time involving and insidious organization known as Wormwood, and Wormwood does have connections to the war in Heaven that was part of Kadrey's last overarching narrative. But both Killing Pretty and The Perdition Score are now more stand-alone "monster of the week" books that touch on that overarching narrative rather than books that are solely driven by it.
All that is a lot of words to say that The Perdition Score is an enjoyable and pleasantly fast paced addition to the Sandman Slim collection. It begins with Stark being asked by the new Augur to investigate the case of a missing child. And as things tend to be in Stark's world, this quickly leads to a deeper and darker mystery. Whether fighting an angel on Hollywood Boulevard, dealing with his inner demons, or of course having to travel back to Hell to help his friends, Sandman Slim is back.