Sandman Slim Series ~ the audiobooks (1-3.5)

 

James Stark has spent the last eleven years in Hell as the slave of Azazel, Lucifer’s second favourite general, fighting for his life in the arena and as an assassin.

So what would you do if your boss gives you a particular key so you can kill another of Lucifer’s generals? Especially since this key can can take you anywhere and everywhere in the universe via shadows and the room of thirteen doors.

You kill your boss and get the hell out of Hell, of course, along with the key which is now buried (literally!) in Stark’s chest. That’s how James Stark aka Sandman Slim “wakes up on a pile of smouldering garbage” in a graveyard in LA.

So now he’s back, with Hellion magic, and looking for revenge against his old magic circle friends who sent him Downtown for being a better magician. The only advantage he has is the fact he’s become very hard to kill after his time in Hell.

It’s not too long before Stark finds one of his former friends, Kasabian, who pays a high and very weird, price for the part he played. Stark’s main aim though is to find Mason Faim and his sidekick, Parker, for killing his girlfriend, Alice.

Thoughts

A dark and gritty story told from Starks point of view with sarcasm and snarky humour. Things don’t quite work out as Stark thought as Heaven and Hell have their own agenda and he has to deal with every demon you could conjure up and more besides.

It’s witty, with laugh out loud moments, brutal but kind of sad as well and I find myself in compete sympathy with Stark. He’s the flawed anti-hero, the “monster that kills monsters”  It’s a roller coaster ride of the weird and wonderful.

  • 8026445Kill the Dead ~ book 2
  • Author: Richard Kadrey
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Released: October 2010 by Brilliance Corporation
  • Category: Noir/Urban Fantasy
  • four-half-stars

After saving the world at the end of Sandman Slim Stark is back and freelancing for The Golden Vigil, a secret angelic arm of Homeland Security, tracking down and killing off monsters. A young vampire who goes on a rampage sets in motion the events leading to another LA apocalypse featuring several different variations of the undead, Zombies, Lacunas, Drifters and Vampires.

When Lucifer comes to LA supposedly to collaborate on a movie being made about him, he enlists Stark as his bodyguard for reasons he keeps to himself. That is, until Stark realises what those reasons are and how they will affect him.

You know you’re in for a fast and fun listen with the opening sentences…

“Imagine shoving a cattle prod up a rhino’s ass, shouting “April fool” and hoping the rhino thinks it’s funny. That’s about how much fun it is hunting a vampire.”

Which is how the story begins and Stark gets more than he bargained for from a pod of vampires.

Thoughts

Being a nephilim, of angel and human parentage, has played a key part in Stark’s personality and we get to know more about him as his character evolves.  And although he is as tough and acerbic as ever, underneath it all there is morality and his own set of ethics despite his penchant for violence. We lose Stark for a while there too, but I’m glad he’s back.

Lucifer figures quite a bit in this story, not in a cartoonish or over the top way either. He’s not to be trifled with but he’s humorous, cool and composed. And hurt, physically and by his banishment from heaven, which is surprising and not at all like the usual interpretation of Lucifer.

I love the addition of Brigitte Bardot, a Czech porn star who is starring in Lucifer’s movie and has a hidden agenda. She and Stark bounce off each other in more ways than one.

So now, the question is will Stark take Lucifer up on his offer.

  • 51PELCnbLrL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_Aloha from Hell ~ book 3
  • Author: Richard Kadrey
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Released: July 2012 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Noir/Urban Fantasy
  • five-stars

Once again all is not right in L.A. Lucifer is back in Heaven, God is on vacation and an insane killer mounts a war against both Heaven and Hell

A few weeks have passed since Stark’s zombie killing spree. Stark and Kasabian are living in a motel room while Max Overdrive is being rebuilt. Stark thinks he’s getting the respite he deserves afar saving the world yet again….but no, that would be too easy.

He and Vidocq steal an artefact for Mr Muninn and have a run in with a demon. Stark is pulled into an exorcism gone wrong and meets an interesting new character, Father Traven. The boy who was being exorcised just happens to be the brother of one of the original magic circle. Coincidence? Stark doesn’t think so and the trail leads where he thought it would. Straight to Mason and into the middle of a planned war between Heaven and Hell.

Mason, along with Aelita, has been planning and plotting, gathering armies together and Stark has no choice but to go back to Hell and try and sort out the chaos Lucifer left behind. And while he’s there maybe this time he can save Alice from being murdered again by Mason. The downside, apart from the obvious, is what he has to do to get back there.

And now that he has his Angel under control he’s back to his old self.

The angel half of me got shaken loose a while back when a High Plains Drifter – that’s “zombie” to you – bit a chunk out of my hand. The human half of me almost died and the angel half thought that was its chance to take over. It was for a while, but then I got my strength back and I locked the angel upstairs in the attic like Joan Crawford in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? It still bangs on the door and shouts but I’ve learned to ignore it most of the time

The snarky humour and wit is here again, in spades, along with the gruesome, the grotesque and the violence. It’s dark and hellish and Richard Kadrey’s writing is as entertaining as ever, made even more so by the narration. I love the way Hell and L.A. are written as versions of the same place and the descriptive writing paints vivid, if sometimes scary, pictures. It’s an insane, imaginative and creative ride through mind-boggling places. 

DevilintheDollhouseDevil in the Dollhouse ~ book 3.5

four-stars

James Stark, a.k.a. Sandman Slim, has a new job, but being the new Lucifer in town gives fresh meaning to the word “Hell.” Especially when he hears of hideous massacres near a haunted fortress out on Hell’s frontier.

As far as Stark’s concerned, the more dead Hellions, the better, but he still has to prove that no one screws with Sandman Slim. And facing creatures so terrible even Hell does not want them is no cakewalk, even for Lucifer.

Being Lucifer isn’t a fun job and it takes Stark into the outer reaches of hell in this short, violent and very bloody story. Lucifer #1 has left him a hell of a mess to clean up and although it’s the last thing he wants, Stark has to make sure he is acknowledged, if not approved, as the Lord of the Underworld. 

I used to be James Stark or sometimes Sandman Slim but then Lucifer 1.0 pissed off back to Heaven and stuck me running Hell. I thought that was the worst thing that ever happened to me. That was three days ago. Today things got worse. Today I’m in a truck convoy heading somewhere I never heard of to find someplace that scares even these evil fallen-angel pricks.

So, while trying to negotiate the politics in Hell, sorting out a demon even the worst Hellions fear and trying to find a way back home, Stark has his work cut out, to put things mildly.

A great bridge between Aloha from Hell and Devil said Bang filled with Richard Kadrey’s brilliant writing.

I love the gravely pitch of Stark’s voice, MacLeod Andrews absolutely nails it. Shifting seamlessly and without obviously ‘doing’ voices, he changes from Stark to a two hundred year old Frenchman, to several female voices, Hellions galore, the Kissi, a Texan sheriff and Lucifer to name a few. 

The books are available at  Amazon UK and Amazon US

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