Killing Pretty by Richard Kadrey (Book Review)

Posted: August 12, 2015 in Book Review
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Killing Pretty

Killing Pretty

By Richard Kadrey

In many ways, this book, the seventh in Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series is a return to form, while simultaneously a step forward for James Stark, the eponymous Sandman Slim.

Gone are the world destroying powers. Gone is the ultimate escape clause. It’s a noir story in the sense that there is a mystery to be solved, powerful people to shake down, and the main character isn’t nearly as clever as he thinks he is.

Kadrey does a masterful job tapping into the California noir tradition of LA Confidential and Chinatown, and despite the supernatural elements of angels, Hellions, magic, and Death, the overall tone is kept grounded by the very real problems of managing relationships, holding a job, and dealing with local politics.

Where the book really shines, however, is in deconstructing the main characters’ usual modus operandi. Yes, going in without thinking gets results, sometimes even positive ones, but, at the end of the day it costs him more than he gains. It’s a lesson not just for life, but for other writers, in looking at the anti-hero character and seeing where it comes up short. It was also refreshing to see Kadrey spend more time on the characters surrounding Stark including Candy, his monster-girlfriend, Julia, the ex-Marshal turned private investigator, and Kasabian, the head on a robot body who runs the video store he and Stark co-own. (My biggest complaint? Not enough of the immortal French alchemist Vidoq, who probably could carry a series all by himself.)

So if you like high octane urban fantasy, if you like your heroes to come in shades of grey, and most importantly, if you enjoy noir, I highly recommend you pick up KILLING PRETTY.

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