Friday, January 11, 2013

Book review--"Sandman Slim"

by Richard Kadrey

James Stark is back from Hell and his clothes are burnt.
Other than that, his day has sucked.
He's returned to Los Angeles on a mission of revenge, but even that gets complicated.  Complicated in the form of a midget in a video store he fancies himself a magician but is soon reduced to a mere talking head.  Yes, an actual talking head.
And it gets weird from there.  The forces of both Hell and Heaven have ideas for Stark's future.

Get this book.  Get it now.
This is the first book I've read in quite a while where the time-honored cliche of "could not put it down" came into play.  Make no mistake about it, however, this is not a "literary masterpiece." You're probably not going to find Kadrey printed in The New Yorker anytime soon and this book has suffered at the hand of literary snobs in their Amazon reviews as a result.

News flash: I don't believe Richard Kadrey ever had any intention of delivering anything other than an entertaining,  noir-flavored urban fantasy that ends up being exactly what William Gibson calls it on the cover: "a dirty-ass masterpiece." Much of the book's charm comes not from the plot but the phrasing of the first-person narration.  If you can fathom a more world-weary version of a film noir voiceover, that's exactly what you get with Sandman Slim.  Thumbing the pages, I'm looking at a few of the descriptive sentences I underlined:

"There's something really wrong with the apartment.  Like one out-of-tune string on a guitar."
"But I don't want to get near it.  I can't look away, either.  I had the same reaction seeing my father at the funeral home."

It's one delicious verbal treat after another.  The noir phrasing and the borderline gutter humor just come together and color Stark's character in a way that makes him just jump right off the page.  In fact, as I read the book I could not help but think what a fun film this would make.  Something dirty and tarty that dovetails perfectly with the pulp/noir grindhouse set.

One beef I do have is with the copy editing and that is not the writer's fault.  The editing is horrendous.  There are misspellings, typographical errors, and missing words.  Somebody didn't do their job.

That aside, I intend to seek out more books written by Richard Kadrey as he now ascends into my personal pantheon of favorite writers.  Sandman Slim is as addictive as whiskey and cigarettes and about as good for you, too.
But that wouldn't stop me from enjoying all three.  Preferably together. 

Sandman Slim is available at Amazon.  Here is a trailer for the book:

My e-novella, Hound of Winter is available for only 99 cents   

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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