Killing Pretty is the seventh book in the Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey and while it is not the best or darkest in the series, it is a terrific addition to the unfolding and confusing life/death/rebirth of the half human, half angel James Stark. Also known as Sandman Slim.
So you are a dark magician, and then you were sent to hell where you had to fight demons and other damned in the devil’s own extreme fighting tournaments. Then you were sent back to Earth to exact revenge on those who sent you to hell in the first place. Of course there’s a girl involved too but you happen to screw that up as well. Then you’re back in hell and take it over. Being half human and half angel, well that doesn’t go that well either for you. So you try to return to Earth and get the real Lucifer back in hell and somewhere along the way, you sort of kill God. Well at least a piece of him and its a very old piece so that’s not exactly good for you either. So now you’re back on Earth and your abilities have been lessened and you can’t really journey between heaven and hell like you use to and though you have saved the world, no one really likes you much.
You’re Sandman Slim and right now, Gods and demons and hell aside, you really want to pay your bills and keep your run down video store from being closed. And maybe keep your girlfriend in hiding alive and out of prison. Until the guy shows up with the hole in his chest where his heart should have been. And oh yeah, he says he’s Death. Or at least he use to be the Angel of Death, right now he’s not sure who he is. He just knows that the only one that can help him right now is you, Sandman Slim.
James Stark, with his girlfriend Candy who is a Jade ( a type of very violent and very sexy demon) in hiding as Chihiro, must unravel the mystery that is the missing Angel of Death. Because the man with the hole in his chest seems to be missing all the power of the Angel of Death and is unable to perform his duties. That means that no one is dying. People who should be dead are just sort of slipping into comas. Without the Angel of Death to transport their souls to their final destinations, the business of the afterlife has ground to a halt. But there seems to be another Death out there and this one has some pretty nefarious motives. Thankfully the new Death hasn’t quite got the hang of things so far. Stark must uncover who this new Death, find out why the old Death had his heart stolen out, keep the afterlife going, keep the supernatural balance of power on an even keel and keep his tumultuous relationship with Candy from imploding. He also has a new job and has to work within the rules as he does all this. Something Sandman Slim is definitely not known for. All the while he can expect no help from God or the current Lucifer who prefer to stand on the sidelines and let the bloodbath happen.
Sandman Slim books are unique. There really isn’t anything like them out in the literary field. Part of their charm is that Kadrey doesn’t take his character too seriously and doesn’t let them take themselves too seriously either. There is plenty of dark and bloody tragedy in the Sandman Slim mythos and there is plenty of dark humor as well. The mixture of legend and noir to create the world where demons and humans and angels must struggle with the day to day concerns of life is the backdrop to these novels even more than the planes of existence they cross. Kadrey handles them all well. As Sandman Slim holds conversations with government authorities, fallen angels, neo-nazis, vampires and demons, you begin to believe that this is how the real world is. Somehow when you go by your day to day, you’re just missing all of this happening around you. Kadrey paints a Los Angeles that is darker, deadlier and more mysterious than the one that exists in our world and quite honestly, is far more interesting.
Killing Pretty is another winner in the Sandman series and not to be missed!