I remember reading the first Sandman Slim book — I snuck out onto onto the balcony on a Saturday morning, put up the hammock and sat down to read for an hour. Four hours later, I had finished it, and my wife had forgiven me for bailing on our afternoon because I had so delighted her with the choicest lines from Sandman Slim, which were more than adequate recompense for the lost afternoon.
Five years and five volumes later, I've just finished reading The Getaway God, the latest of Richard Kadrey's delightful tortures for poor James "Sandman Slim" Stark, a supernatural assassin and magician who has escaped from Hell to LA, and has given us good reason to suspect that they're simply different names for the same place.
What makes the Sandman Slim so addictive and so sticky in the imagination is a formula that has just enough familiarity to give you something to hold onto, but which challenges Kadrey to outdo himself with each volume. In each of these books, Sandman Slim discovers some supernatural crisis that threatens the world — and sometimes also heaven, hell, and the rest of existence. Each time, Sandman Slim needs to overcome his own foibles and weaknesses to save things, and each time, things are harder than the last time.
The amazing thing is how Kadrey continually manages to keep this fresh, coming up with new and greater existential crises for all of reality, new domains of even-more-elder gods who raven at the edges of our dimension. Part of what keeps it fresh is Kadrey's encylopedic knowledge of the mythos, loony beliefs, demonology, and theology of dozens of sects, cults, faiths and subcultures, whose potency has not been diminished by being brewed into the weak tea of hundreds of lesser horror novels.
The other trick in Kadrey's act is his genuine gift for hard-boiled dialog. Sandman Slim is, by far, the toughest-talking, snappiest, fastest verbal gun of contemporary literature, and his voice is such an unvarnished pleasure that they makes these books into treats without parallel.
Like the five volumes before it (reviews: Sandman Slim, Kill the Dead, Aloha From Hell, Devil Said Bang, Kill City Blues) The Getaway God is a book to treasure and re-read and amuse your friends by offering up choice morsels when they grow impatient with your lost afternoon in the hammock.
If you've got younger people in your life — or if you just can't get enough Kadrey — I also thoroughly recommend Kadrey's fantastic supernatural YA novel Dead Set, which rebooted all the conventions of YA horror and found fresh seams of ore in tunnels that lesser writers had long-since given up as exhausted.