Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey

“’I’m not taking name abuse from someone called Sandman Slim. That sounds like a diet shake with roofies.’”

My sentiments exactly.

If there’s one thing Richard Kadrey knows how to do, it’s crafting an insanely funny story. Every page is littered with many wisecracks, smart-aleck remarks, and generally hilarious observations of the world he makes a living in.
And what a world.

Urban Fantasy has this love affair with Christian ideals for some reason, pitting the hero against one of the big Two, God and the Devil. Kadrey throws that black and white morality out the window, making the choice of either side harder than you would think.

Lucifer is a guy who just wants to get back into Heaven, mad at what he did, but more likely trying to escape from a civil war downstairs. God is never truly expounded upon, but one of his Angels, who I will admit probably isn’t on his side, is the worst kind of woman you would want to be stuck in a room alone with. Stark’s stuck in the middle, happy for the burritos he lives off of before the coming apocalypse.

It is from these strong motivations that the characters are truly born. And with it, every witty banter is explored, making this a riveting story with pacing pushing you along at half past midnight, just to see what Stark gets himself into again.

“It’s something Stark would do. Use a prop and bluster to cover up for what he knows he can’t do.”

Another thing I love Kadrey for is his ability to have these horrible, murderous, killing machine characters actually grow. Not toward the light, have you, but have some sense. Stark’s reckless behavior was one item that turned me off in Sandman Slim.

Here, we have his other side, his angel side, trying to contest intelligence and magic over the usual brute force of invincibility. That’s because the scars are beginning to heal up, making the nephilim not all that impervious to danger.

“’Only an idiot doesn’t want to heal.’”

With all the side commentary, Kadrey really stands out as a man who can write characters. Besides being a dark comedy author mostly, Kadrey actually found a plot before the first half of the story this time. His foreshadowing was excellent, even if the true story didn’t begin until about a little over a third into the novel.

No matter.

Zombies is always a fun topic to tackle. Add in that the ending really amps up the suspense, you have a pretty awesome sophomore book, probably rivaling a good deal of senior ones. But with the twists that come strong and hard, like one near the end that actually made me put down the book for a second, (it was that good) I struggled with the meaning of the resolution.

I want it to make sense; hope it did. But at the same time, it felt very much like a dues ex machina. I’ll mull over the idea for a good while, but that stops it from getting a perfect score.

Nevertheless, as Urban Fantasy goes, it’s safe to say this is one for the shelves, even if the second in a series. Richard Kadrey is, if I can make the comparison, the Raymond Chandler of his genre. Goodbye Jim Butcher. Kadrey here, even with a soured plot sometimes, puts his characters first and foremost, with the words simply amazing to read.

Plug in some Theory of a Deadman, listen for the Hellions screaming in the background, and prepare for the funniest story of the year. Kill the Dead deserves nothing less.

Rating: 8/10

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