Okay, so the next three or possibly four reviews I write are going to be sequels, conclusions or in some way connected with books I’ve previously reviewed. This may be boring for some readers but I’ll try to keep them brief and get them out of the way quickly. First up (well, second if you count The Rhesus Chart) is Richard Kadrey’s sixth in the stunning and almost unbearably cool Sandman Slim series.
The last time we met John Stark aka Sandman Slim he was fighting off fragments of gods from before time, the Angra, under an abandoned beachfront mall known as Kill City. Stark isn’t your regular guy you see, he’s a Nephilim, an Abomination. Imagine an angel who gives less than a flying fuck about most of the world, carries grudges like dogs carry fleas and smokes and drinks enough to put the whole of Russia in an early grave. That’s kind of on the right tracks.
Having been sent to Hell while he still assumed he was a regular mortal, forced to fight in their arenas, returned to avenge those who sent him there, made pals with the five fragments of God (they don’t get on), become Lucifer for a while, fought off plagues of zombies and hideous proto-angels from other dimensions, Slim is finally settling down. Now he’s working for the Golden Vigil, a government department charged with all things supernatural. His remit is to discover the workings of the Magic 8-Ball aka the Godeater, a rather potent device with an obvious purpose. Unfortunately it seems the world is ending. Los Angeles is being drenched by a Biblical deluge; Hell is being drenched by the blood raining down from the latest war in Heaven; and the Angra are looking to take their universe back for the sole purpose of ending it. One part of God is dead, another crazy, one neurotic and the other two, well, just kinda mopey. It seems a tad hopeless. Time for Sandman to step up to the plate again.
This latest installment represents a new, more mature Stark. Always previously the darkest of anti-heroes he now begins to show his human side a little more. He actually… cares! No seriously, this is a big thing. While unrepentantly nihilistic pseudo-Angels can be fun to follow for a while, Sandman Slim was in danger of becoming too one-dimensional, a one-trick pony. In The Getaway God, Richard Kadrey has finally opened him up and turned him into a far more rounded character. This courtesy has been extended to a number of the major players as well, with significant depth added to Mr Muninn, Samael, Candy and others.
It’s a pretty no-holds-barred romp too with Kadrey pulling no punches. The stakes have been raised pretty high in this episode with the future of all reality in the balance so it seems as good a time as any to go all George RR Martin on the cast and scenery. He’s done this in the past of course but for some reason the major events in The Getaway God seem to carry more weight, elevating it above its pulpy noir origins and giving it some serious heft.
I don’t know how well The Getaway God will appeal to new readers, given the serious amount of background which has gone before, but I’m pretty sure you could just jump in here and still love it. For anyone who has read and loved the first five books (if you’ve read them and didn’t love them then get the hell off my blog), you’re in for the best ride yet. Oh, and can I just add that the new pulp cinema-style covers are freakin’ awesome…