The adventures of everyone’s favorite monster-slaying and generally misanthropic badass Sandman Slim continue in the fifth installment of the series from Richard Kadrey entitled Kill City Blues. As we saw in Devil Said Bang, Stark is fresh off a stint of giving up his title as Lucifer. He’s in a donut shop with Samael, who we normally think of as the most famous Lucifer. Their conversation, which includes discussion of donuts, is hilarious. The person currently wearing the Lucifer hat is doing a much better job than Stark. Unlike Stark, his replacement is considerably more level-headed and more invested in the well-being of Hell and Hellions. But apparently Stark left such an impression that he inspired a Wikipedia entry.
Violence and explosions follow Stark around wherever he goes, so it’s no surprise when he runs into some trouble and a shoot-out of sorts happens. As we saw in the previous volume, Devil Said Bang, God is not so easy to pin down. Not all the pieces of the God puzzle are intact, and in order to neutralize the war between Heaven and Hell, Stark is after a particular god-killing weapon and he’s doing his damndest to make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
The old gang are back and better than ever including fan favorites Vidocq, Kasabian, and Stark’s main squeeze, Candy. Stark is referring to Kasabian as Old Yeller because of his doggie endowments, but despite his physical challenges, he comes through for Stark in more ways than one this time around.
The snappy, sharp dialogue is as good as ever, not to mention the humor is in tip-top condition and will have fans laughing out loud several times over the course of their reading experience. Brigitte Bardo, the zombie-killing porn star is also back and helps Stark track down someone who he thinks may be able to lead him to the god-killing device, which he refers to as a magic 8 ball for most of the novel.
Although the first entry in the series, Sandman Slim, remains my favorite of the bunch so far, Kill City Blues is in many ways a return to what made the first book so great and contains many of the elements readers have come to know and love in a stronger way. Kill City Blues is fast-paced, highly entertaining fun in the trademark gritty pulp noir style to which readers have grown accustomed. And as with the previous books, there are just as many interesting spins and takes on theology in this volume as well.
If you found yourself wishing that the cool vampires would make another appearance in the series, they definitely do in Kill City Blues, which is another highlight to look forward to. When Stark meets up with some of the vamps, he learns that someone is guarding the weapon in Kill City and it’s in a shopping mall of all places. Stark can’t play the lone wolf on this mission, as his vampire contact insists he be accompanied by one of their servants.
There comes a point in the novel during which one of the characters has a chance to ensure there are no more Lucifers in Hell, but to do that would be complicated for many reasons, ending things on a cliffhanger, setting the stage for more excitement down the line in the follow-up to Kill City Blues. Enough has happened over the course of the books that I would probably advise potential readers who haven’t read the series yet to start with book one, Sandman Slim, or they may be confused as to what’s going on here. Still, for those die-hard fans that can’t get enough of Stark and his hellish adventures, Kill City Blues is an excellent and highly recommended read.