I believe Kill City Blues by Richard Kadrey has been out for several months already but I will put up a big SPOILERS alert just in case. So Kill City Blues is the latest in Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series. Sandman Slim, aka-James Stark, aka-Lucifer is the asshole that everyone loves to hate. He is the quintessential anti-hero. He is not a good guy and don’t think for a moment that he is, even if he does occasionally do good.
Stark is not Lucifer anymore, but he is pretending at the hotel Chateau Marmont. Free luxury digs, food and booze? Can’t pass that up. Stark passed the Lucifer mantel (really a title rather than a name) on to Mr. Munnin, one of five fragments of god. Unfortunately, in the course of doing so, he lost his most powerful weapon the Qomrama Om Ya (which Stark calls the Magic 8 ball. Much easier to say and type) to renegade angel Aelita who really hates his ass. She used it, quite accidentally, to kill one of the other five pieces of god. And then there were four. The one still in heaven is apparently paranoid schizophrenic and driving angels out of heaven (not like during the fall more of a “he’s wacko, let’s get out of here” sort of way).
Stark and girlfriend Candy nearly get whacked by someone looking for the Magic 8 ball so Stark decides enough is enough. He needs to find that thing and fast. So he starts beating on people, sending messages into the criminal underground of L.A. Someone had better spill before things get really messy. Eventually he gets picked up by a guy named Norris Quay, supposedly the richest man in California.
Quay wants the Magic 8 ball for his collection. He is purely selfish but he is not above killing to get what he wants. Quay eventually slips a spy (a younger, tick-tock homunculus of himself) into Stark’s group via a bunch of vampires along with some information. The Magic 8 ball can be found in a place called Kill City.
Kill City is just about as bad if not worse than it sounds. Kill City was a mega mall. Or it would have been if something hadn’t happened. Hundreds were killed in a building accident. People were trapped and died or went cuckoo. It is a bad place with a capital BAD. But the Magic 8 ball is down there, guarded by an old Roman ghost. What a Roman ghost is doing in L.A. is beyond me but plot!
Stark bring Candy, Brigitte the zombie killer, Vidocq the thief and Father Traven down to Kill City with him. He’s smart enough to know not to go in there alone. Quay’s spy goes with because he’s their map through Kill City (naturally). They fight and struggle through the levels of Kill City until they reach the old Roman ghost who turns out (surprise, surprise) to be piece 3 of 5 (or rather 4) of god. After some banter and a little bit of bargaining, he agrees to tell Stark and his troupe where the Magic 8 ball is. Turns out…it’s in the lobby area of Kill City, which they passed through to start their journey. Ain’t life a bitch.
So they retrieve the Magic 8 ball, but it costs. More than Stark is willing to pay. Granted, Aelita buys it (always nice when your mortal enemy kicks it I guess) but so does Traven. Traven was easily the most innocent person that Stark knows. Stark decides that is way too high a price for having his ultimate weapon because Traven was excommunicated by the Catholic church before Stark met him. It wasn’t anything bad that he did, he translated a book that the Church felt shouldn’t be translated. But excommunication is a one way ticket to hell, regardless of the severity of your breach.
So Stark decides fuck this, I’m getting Traven’s soul out of hell. And boy howdy does he. It was a like the great escape if Steve McQueen had to break into the concentration camp first. It was awesome. Of course, that pisses off the current Lucifer, who kicks Stark and company out of the Chateau Marmont.
These books are great. There hasn’t been one that I’ve had to struggle to finish. I cannot wait until the next one comes out, whenever that may be (soon I hope). While you don’t necessarily need to read the other books to read this one, it does help because Kadrey does reference past events. I recommend this whole series but this book in particular is darn good. Rating: A.