Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
Recommended for: Anyone who liked Sandman Slim, people who enjoy hard-edges and black humor on their urban fantasy, or Chuck Palahuniuk fans who are looking to branch out
Kill the Dead follows Sandman Slim. It takes place about half a year after the events of the first book. Jim Stark (Slim) is getting paid by the DHS-angel hit squad to do a little investigating and a lot of monster hunting. He’s also on retainer to Lucifer.
Slim is coasting along, trying to figure out what he wants to do when he grows up, now that he’s nominally done everything he set out to do in order to get revenge on the circle that sent him to Hell. Lucifer hires him to act as a body-guard while he’s Above Ground in LA. There’s a studio-head doing a biopic on Lucifer, and the fallen angel is paying Stark every month.
The body-gaurd job leads to the interesting perk of meeting a Czech adult entertainment star as well as the opportunity to get into some fights and possibly kill someone along the way. It’s better than nothing, even if Slim does have to wear a tux.
Nothing’s ever what it seems when you’re working for Heaven and Hell at the same time and Slim is always at his best when the world’s going crazy. When the zombies come knocking, the story starts to rock.
As with Sandman Slim, the action just amps up as you go. I read the book in one sitting on the train. It’s a good read. There’s plenty of details, magic, blood, double-crosses, and murky identities to keep your attention. The voice is authentically hard-edged and leaves no illusions that the main character is anything but cynical and burning out quickly despite the fact that he keeps doing the right thing, simply because it’s the only thing he can think to do.
Slim is an hero despite himself and Kill the Dead gives him the perfect platform to become more a part of this world. He’s not perfect by any stretch and his cast of supporting characters is excellent. The LA world is recognizably just left of center today and dark humor made me laugh out loud. Kadrey is a poet with dark descriptions.
I would recommend reading Sandman Slim before you pick this one up. Kill the Dead does stand on it’s own, but the deeper knowledge from the first book makes everything mean a little more.
The series is set up for at least one more book and I can’t wait for it.