Review: “Kill the Dead,” Richard Kadrey

Pros: More of Stark’s rough style
Cons: I guess I’m not as moved by zombies now
Rating: 4 out of 5


“You might be crazy, but you’re just not that evil, bro.”

Kill the Dead (book two in the Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey) sees Stark dealing with an undead menace–zombies are popping up in ever-greater numbers, and he’s sure it’s part of a larger plan. Stark’s also busy acting as Lucifer’s bodyguard while Lucifer acts as a consultant on a movie based on his life. Everyone seems to think that Lucifer might be Stark’s father–even Stark isn’t really sure, but the interest Lucifer takes in him gives the idea some credence. Now Stark is trying to protect Lucifer, destroy the zombies that keep getting in his way, and in his own half-assed way, protect the people who are close to him.


“Sandman Slim” is the name Stark hates to be called by. He’s still something of a celebrity among the Sub Rosa, which annoys him more than anything else. Everybody seems to have plans for him: helping him, using him, putting him in a position of power. Everyone has their own preconceptions of him, most of which only pin down parts of him. He’s an abomination according to some, still working out what he can and can’t do. He doesn’t have many friends, so he does what he can to help the ones he has. Stark really seems to enjoy shocking people, as much as he enjoys anything. He’s a surprisingly engaging antihero in a dark world where even angels can’t be trusted.

The zombie invasion wasn’t as interesting to me as the events of book one, but I think I’ve just seen too many zombie movies, books, and TV shows lately. I’ve hit a bit of burnout on the topic. Kadrey does some interesting things with the zombies–there are several types, all of them with different levels of awareness and motivation. Killing them is also interesting, seeing as the usual means don’t always work–there’s a fun character who’s a zombie-slayer who teaches Stark how to take them down.

Kadrey provides some truly entertaining dialogues. Then there’s the vampire who uses a flamethrower as a weapon, so that’s fun. The plot went in some interesting directions, particularly the thread about the identity of Stark’s father. There are some events in there that genuinely surprised me, which is great. I’ll have to put a hold on book three from the library; I hope they have the rest of the series!

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