Devil Said Bang: Sandman Slim finds it's lonely at the top

Devil Said Bang is the latest Sandman Slim novel, and Richard Kadrey continues to knock them way the hell out of the park. As with previous volume (the first three were Sandman Slim, Kill the Dead, and Aloha From Hell), Devil is the harder-than-hard-boiled story of James Stark, a distant descendant of Wild Bill Hickok and a wild magic talent whose LA coven conspired against him, sending him to Hell. There he was turned into a gladiator and assassin, killing hellions in the pit and murdering Lucifer's generals in their beds until he escaped to earth, bent on revenge.

Devil is the latest installment in what is, at core, a superhero story (albeit one with a lot of gore and Satanism) and after three books, Kadrey has arrived at that point where the superhero's successful adventures have left him with so many powerful artefacts and so much authority and so many dead enemies that he's essentially become a God. Devil is a story about the ways in which it can be pretty terrible at the top, as Stark tries to come to grips with his own power -- power he's always reviled in others -- while continuing to slaughter, bad-mouth, and humiliate his enemies, be they demons, angels, monsters, ghosts or humans.

Filled with perverted sex, awesome one-liners, gore, murder, and a necronomiconical sense of the daemonic, Devil shows that these are the books that Kadrey was born to write. One of the original cyberpunks, Kadrey has always been the grittiest of the gritty lot, the chipped switchblade in a box full of fractal-edged nanofabricated scalpels. Compared to Kadrey, other supernatural horror writers feel like they've been drinking the thrice-brewed tea of HP Lovecraft, while Kadrey has been performing blood sacrifices in abandoned LA parking garages. Read these books, and be delighted.

Devil Said Bang

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