This fun, quick read combines genres of the hard-boiled detective genre with an alternate-universe fantasy that reminded me strongly of Constantine (the TV show) mashed up with The Dresden Files with an off-the-wall world building reminiscent of Supernatural, but a lot less grim. Our hero, Stark, has had a colorful life … in fact, several lives … and the weird just keeps on coming through this seventh book of the Sandman Slim series in which the Angel of Death shows up needing his help. As clients go, Death isn’t so bad, and who wouldn’t want him to owe you a big, fat favor??
Note: I received an advanced copy of Killing Pretty from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Killing Pretty by Richard Kadrey (Sandman Slim #7)
Published by Harper Voyager on July 28th 2015
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Genre-bender, Mystery
Page Length: 416 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Someone has tried to kill Death—ripping the heart right out of him—or rather the body he's inhabiting. Death needs Sandman Slim's help. He believes anyone who can beat Lucifer and the old gods at their own game is the only one who can solve his murder.
Stark follows a sordid trail deep into LA's subterranean world, from vampire-infested nightclubs to Weimar Republic mystical societies. Along the way he meets a mysterious girl—distinguished by a pair of graveyard eyes—as badass as Slim; she happens to be the only person who ever outwitted Death. But escaping her demise has had dire consequences for the rest of the world... and a few others.
- It’s irreverent. It’s fun. It’s fast-paced. I had to set a timer to make myself set it down to get real work done. I’m warning you now …. it’s a page-turner that will suck you in and get you in trouble with someone who had an appointment with you. Hopefully not your boss.
- The characters are endearing in a comic-book sort of way. None have great depth, but they are all interesting and amusing. Our hero, Stark, is half-angel and half-human and makes wise-cracks at every possible turn. He’s in love with a shape-shifter and somehow has become an employee of a former law-enforcement type as well as a partner in a movie rental/sales store that deals in movies that might have been. There are ghosts and vampires and New Age Nazis. What’s not to love??
- Some reviewers have opined that this book couldn’t be understandable to a person unfamiliar with the previous six books, but I disagree. I’m sure that I missed a lot of insider references, but the author handled the references to prior history well enough that I understood what was currently happening. I just want to go back and find these books now so that I can really be in the know when book eight is published later this year.
- The only thing I didn’t like was that the book is written in first person and in the present tense. It took a little while to get used to that style of narration, but pretty soon, I’d given Stark the voice of Matt Ryan (Constantine) and a Liverpool accent, and then it was all good.
As I said, Killing Pretty is irreverent in its reconstruction of Judeo-Christian mythology and mysticism. And since it is set in an alternative universe, its version of history is different from ours. And there is plenty of swearing. But it is a fun and funny mystery that will keep you engaged to the very end.
Here’s a preview:
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
Killing Pretty by Richard Kadrey
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