Review: “Devil Said Bang,” Richard Kadrey

Pros: Plenty of Stark attitude!
Rating: 5 out of 5


Devil Said Bang: A Sandman Slim Novel is book four in Richard Kadrey’s delightful series. Do not try to jump into the series here. Go back and read it from the start if you can, because this is becoming a very complex world. (Obviously, it’s pretty impossible to review book four without spoilers for the previous books.)

Sandman Slim (or as he prefers, Stark) is a not-quite-human who, through various machinations, got dumped into Hell while still alive. He became a gladiator and assassin right up until he figured out how to get back to the living world. Having partially grown up in Hell, he has some… issues, let’s say. He has difficulty relating to people, and tends to solve most problems with threats and violence. He has some supernatural power, some of which he had before going to Hell, and some of which he learned while there. In this volume, Stark has been maneuvered into taking over as Lucifer in Hell, while the ‘real’ Lucifer goes his own way. Matters aren’t helped by the fact that God has split into several pieces and the denizens of Hell have lost all hope.

Some people are too stupid to even damn themselves properly.

Stark has an unusual personality for an urban fantasy character–he’s a definite anti-hero. He’s impulsive, bullying, and sometimes comes across as a bit slow. Most people underestimate him to their own peril. Stark himself blunders through life, but has some cunning that he hides behind his bluntness and impulsiveness. He’s starting to care about some of the people around him, in his own messed-up way. His love/hate relationship with Kasabian continues, and he of course goes looking for Candy once he finds himself back in the land of the living. Some few people are delighted to see him, while others… not so much.

Stark has one thing that definitely increases his odds of surviving: he’s wearing Lucifer’s armor. Not only does that make it harder to kill him, but Stark starts to realize that much of Lucifer’s power resides in that armor. It holds the key to allow him back into the human world, where he finds that the part of him that split off into a separate person has been causing trouble in his name.

There’s plenty of action, mostly-implied athletic sex, violence, and Stark’s own brand of bluntness. Stark often feels like he should be a bit player, but he half-blunders on into the center of things. If you’ve enjoyed the previous three volumes, you’ll love Devil Said Bang.

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