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Book Review

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Killing Pretty


Author: Richard Kadrey
Publisher: Harper Voyager
RRP: £8.99
ISBN: 978 0 00 812100 6
Publication Date: 30 July 2015

Stripped of his ability to travel through the hall of doors, Sandman Slim, aka James Stark, is less part angel and more human than he would like to admit. Following his last, great world saving escapade, his girlfriend has to wear a different face and the two of them have had to take normal jobs as private investigators. To make matters worse, Death is living in their video store. Trapped in a human body, Death has no idea who has tried to kill him or why and neither does Slim, but he intends to find out...

Killing Pretty (2015 387 Pages) is the seventh book in the Sandman Slim series of novels, written by Richard Kadrey.

If you have not read the previous novels, and if not, why not, they are a great deal of fun, Kadrey creates a noir Los Angeles, filled with all manner of supernatural creatures, which inhabit a parallel culture, mostly invisible to the human population. These are not the characters of your traditional horror novel and in previous novels Slim has been able to visit both heaven and hell, which he ran for a short time. Both god and the devil exist, but in a form which will seem simultaneously original and unusual.

You don’t really have to have read the previous novels, as Killing Pretty works well as a standalone novel, however you will lose some of the background and nuances of the characters interpersonal relationships.

Kadrey delights in introducing his readers to Slim's, slightly absurdist world. As the novel opens Death is still trapped in a human body after someone tried to kill him. With Death trapped, people have stopped dying, which spreads panic across the world. Having read and enjoyed all the previous novels I did feel that this was the weakest in the series.

In the previous book of the series, all the on-going plot lines had been pretty much resolved, so this really represents the beginning of a new cycle of tales. Slim has always had a good cast of supporting characters, including his girlfriend Chihiro, his supposedly deceased girlfriend, Kasabian, who helps Slim run his store, (although no one seems to mind that he is a head on a mechanical body) and relatively recently introduced character Julie, an ex-marshal, now employing Slim. The story contains the requisite level of violence expected from the series, as well as a rich vein of black humour which runs through the narrative.

Unfortunately, what it also has is pages of Slim talking to people which slows the previous level of quick paced, punchy, action. I generally got the feeling that the story meandered too much away from the ‘A’ plot, adding in elements, like a shy ghost which doesn’t really go anywhere as it contributes almost nothing to the plot.

Kadrey has written a great series of book so it was inevitable that eventually one would impress less than the others. Still it has a good central story, even if there is too much padding.


Charles Packer

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