James Stark, a.k.a. Sandman Slim, crawled out of Hell, took bloody revenge for his girlfriend's murder, and saved the world along the way. After that, what do you do for an encore? You take a lousy job tracking down monsters for money. It's a depressing gig, but it pays for your beer and cigarettes. But in L.A., things can always get worse.
Like when Lucifer comes to town to supervise his movie biography and drafts Stark as his bodyguard. Sandman Slim has to swim with the human and inhuman sharks of L.A.'s underground power elite. That's before the murders start. And before he runs into the Czech porn star who isn't quite what she seems. Even before all those murdered people start coming back from the dead and join a zombie army that will change our world and Stark's forever.
Death bites. Life is worse. All things considered, Hell's not looking so bad.
Darker, grittier, and more violent than almost any other urban fantasy out there Kill The Dead is not for the weak of heart.
Urban fantasy fans looking for the next Dresdan or John Taylor (Simon R. Green’s Nightside series), will be slightly disappointed when confronted with Stark. Stark is a depressed alcoholic with a propensity towards violence, that fans might have trouble becoming inspired with. Unlike Dresdan, Stark wont help you when you’re down, in fact he’s just as likely to kill you as he is to ignore your desperate calls for help as he walks past you. This lost and violent protagonist disappointed me a little in this book, as Stark had so much drive and purpose in the first book, Sandman Slim, he was back and out for revenge. Now in Kill The Dead Stark doesn’t know what his purpose is, he’s been drunk for the last 6 months, and for most of the book he just goes from disaster to disaster feeling sorry for himself. In fact, it’s not until the end of the book that Stark gains any sense of purpose at all, which does give me hope for the third book in the series, but for this book I wish he had found a purpose earlier.
Of course, after reading Kill the Dead I felt the real star of the book wasn’t Stark but the devil himself. I thought Lucifer was funny, smart, and incredibly well written. He doesn’t come across as the stereotypical interpretation of the devil, but instead comes across as a humanistic character who’s tired of carrying the wait of the world on his shoulders. He’s tired of handling Hell and is here to do something about it. Kadrey does a fantastic job of blurring the stereotypical lines between good and evil in this book, allowing typically good characters to come across as stuck up assholes, and allowing others such as Lucifer to come across as a likable and charismatic character who you want to follow.
All in all Kill the Dead is a bloody fun read. It’s filled with fantastic action sequences that zombie fans will absolutely eat up, likable and endearing characters (such as Lucifer), and a sense of sarcasm that will lighten the mood in times of depressing distress. That said, this book is not for everyone, it’s incredibly violent, dark, the second book in the series acts as a meandering lost sort of plot that could annoy some readers. Making Kill The Dead a fun read for the more hardcore fans but not for those looking for a light happy book.