Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Sandman Slim" by Richard Kadrey

Life sucks, and then you die. Or, if you're James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles. Now Stark's back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you'd expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future. Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse. Darkly twisted, irreverent, and completely hilarious, [this book] is the breakthrough novel by an acclaimed author.

First problem is this: I have no idea who Richard Kadrey is. The dust jacket blurb says he's an "acclaimed author", but this was my first introduction to him, and from what I've gathered from some of the reviews, the first time most people have heard of him. But I think he's well on his way to making it bigger, as this book is pretty awesome. It's also getting attention from other writers, as I recently read a blog post by Jocelyn Drake saying how wonderful this book is and go out and read it for myself.

Yep, she was right.

So was the hubby, who devoured it first. (He's also breezed right thru the second installment, leaving me behind in his biblionic dust - and yes, I just made up that word, "biblionic". Pretty cool, huh?)

To tell you much about the book would be to give things away, but I will tell you that it reminded me a bit of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series. The comparisons are inevitable in a way: rough and tumble magician pissing off everyone around him, and let's not forget about the talking head. Granted, in "Slim" the head is the direct result of actions taken by Stark, whereas Bob is more of a mentor/contemporary of Harry's. Still... But "Sandman Slim" is darker, which I liked. There are mysteries of all sorts here to be solved, not the least of which is, who is James Stark? He might not like some of the answers.

My biggest complaint about this book is the editing/proofreading, or what at times appears a complete lack of. There are words missing, wrong words being used, and sometimes misspellings as well. It's to be expected that there will be little things missed on occassion, but to have this many of them missed starts to feel like someone has dropped the ball. And now that I do some proofreading myself (yep, for profit!) I really, really notice when things like this happen. For example, read the following, and perhaps read it aloud for full effect: "No. Wild Bill told my great-granddad about it. It's where I take you down the river. Someplace the ground is soft and wet. I break your arms and legs. You fingers and toes. Your neck and back. I dig a hole in the wet, soft ground, put you inside, and fill it back up. Then I have a cigarette and wait for you to dig your way out." In the space of less than 100 pages, I immediately picked out this and four more errors, and those were just the ones that I noticed right off the bat. I know there were more in the beginning of the book, but I wasn't really looking for them.

I will definitely be looking for the next installment, though, as this was a pretty good read. I'm anxious to see what happens to Sandman Slim next.

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