Published: Harper Voyager, 07/01/2012
Sandman Slim is (roughly speaking) an entry into the genre of supernatural fantasy mixed with hard-boiled detective fiction, pulp novels, and noir. If you happen to be familiar with John Constantine, Harry Dresden, or others of their ilk, you'll be right at home, but James Stark is such a compelling antihero that Sandman Slim makes for a great entry point into the sub-genre. Stark used to be an arrogant young magician who was betrayed by his occult friends and given an express ticket to hell. A little over a decade later he's back and spoiling for some vengeance and-- as Alex from A Clockwork Orange might say-- "a bit of the old ultraviolence."
Kadrey is fantastic at describing the various pummelings Sandman Slim metes out and receives, but the real heart of the book lies in its perversely likeable characters and wonderful sense of black humor. Kadrey also has an ear for dialogue and the pithy, hard-bitten one-liner: "I'm steel-toed boots in a ballet-slipper world," Stark complains at one point. Searching for other juicy quotes, I found that most of them were far too profane to include on a bookstore blog. This is the kind of series that people call unapologetic, which doesn't make much sense to me, seeing as how you shouldn't have to apologize for a great, ripping read. Sandman Slim is a bottle of nasty mountain moonshine that burns on the way down but more than gets the job done. I wouldn't have it any other way.