Kill the Dead was equally as enjoyable as Richard Kadrey's first book in this series, Sandman Slim, which I reviewed earlier this year. As the cover blurb already tells you, part of the plot involves Satan coming to Los Angeles and getting involved in a movie about his life. It's funny how certain movie actors pop in my head while reading a book, in this case, I pictured Satan as Julian McMahon (from Nip/Tuck). Satan has a wicked sense of humor and is taking a fatherly interest in Stark (Sandman Slim), who serves as his bodyguard.
There are some terrific action scenes where Stark defends Satan from a league of assassins, and another one where Stark takes on the Golden Vigil (the FBI division that watches supernatural beings) is very creative as well. A lot of characters and sub-plots from the first book are carried over, including Stark's arch-enemy Mason, who doesn't physically appear but we hear of his scheming in Hell. Kasabian is still around as Stark's roommate and is given some bizarre contraptions to help him "walk", "eat", etc. It occurred to me while reading this book that Kasabian has something in common with Bob from Jim Butcher's Dresden books: both are expository talking heads! Very funny and raunchy talking heads. I heard that Butcher created Bob because his writing teacher told him not to use "talking head" characters just for the sake of exposition.
Stark's adventures in this book ratchet up the chaos factor as Los Angeles gets overrun with the Walking Dead. Even though Stark is a sarcastic cinema-wise-cracking anti-hero, the job to save LA falls to him. Kadrey invents some fascinating new types of Zombies. My favorite one is Johnny Thunders, one of the prime 27 Zombie Savants, who spends his free time transcribing the dictionary on grains of sand.
The only un-satisfying moment of the book was the final revelation about Stark's father. It seemed a bit anti-climatic and missed any kind of emotion. Perhaps this was intentional, given what was occurring to Stark at that point in the book, but it seemed like a missed opportunity.
The book concludes in a satisfying way, with the big Mason and Hell sub-plot is left dangling for the third book, which Kadrey has titled Aloha From Hell. Nuff Said!
Link: Sandman Slim: A Novel
Link: Kill the Dead: A Sandman Slim Novel
Link: "Sandman Slim" author Richard Kadrey knows his place (Interview at MPR)