Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Latest Review for Shroud Magazine

Title:        Kill the Dead, A Sandman Slim Novel
Author:    Richard Kadrey
Publisher: EOS
ISBN:      978-0-06-171431-3
Retail:       $22.99
Format:    Hardcover

I need to start the review of Kill the Dead with something as basic as, I loved this novel. Loved it.

Now. I need you to stay with me for the rest of the review. Because, as you begin to read, you may not fully believe the above statement. But trust me. I will pull it off.

The extreme basic concept of Kadrey's book continually forced comparison between Kill The Dead and Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series -- the similarities nagged. Where the main character in Kadrey's novel has Kasabian --a fully functioning head, just a head, Dresden has Bob -- a spirit that lived inside a skull. Both Bob and Kasabian are limited to the homes of the main characters, are witty and a bit annoying, but also helpful and used as a sounding board, more or less -- where they tap resources to help their main characters solve puzzles.

While Dresden uses magic to operate a private eye business out of his home, he continually encounters vampires, ghosts, witches, goblins, etc., etc. Jimmy Stark (Sandman Slim), the main guy in Kill the Dead, is a nephilim (part angel, part human), who uses magic, and works for the Vigil to help solve crimes that seem to include vampires, werewolves, goblins and zombies.

Both Dresden and Stark are similarly outlined and shaded in characters, and the story lines easily blur between authors. However, and this is where I take you back to my first sentence, I loved Kadrey's novel.

Stark, who was sent Downtown for eleven years--Downtown being Hell--is, throughout the book, searching for Mason, the evil man who sent him there. In the meantime, he has jobs to do. While working for-hire for the Vigil to keep the streets free and clear of monsters, he takes to moonlighting. His new client is none other than the Devil himself. Lucifer.

Lucifer is in town. A soul he owns is a movie producer. A motion picture is going to be shot--detailing Lucifer's existence. While on earth, Lucifer wants a body guard to protect his human form. Enter Jimmy Stark, a.k.a. Sandman Slim.

At the same time, Drifters start showing up. Drifters are a breed of zombie. One of the actresses for the Lucifer film--Brigitte, a "Czech gypsy porn star zombie killer", teams up with Stark to fight the walking dead.

Together, with the help of a host of unique characters (friends), Stark and Brigitte, must uncover who released the zombie-drifters into the general public and prevent a serious health outbreak, while protecting the Prince of Darkness, and keeping themselves alive before the complete unraveling of humanity itself!

Taut chapters. Quick, tart dialogue. Gritty noir writing. Kill the Dead is an engrossing read. It is both captivating and compelling. It has forced me to place an order for the first book in the series, Sandman Slim, because I need to know what happened before to lead Stark to where he is now!

--Thomas Phillips, author of The Molech Prophecy