Here's a bit of the back-cover blurb from William Gibson: [I]t's like watching Sergio Leone and Clive Barker codirect from a script by Jim Thompson and S. Clay Wilson: an L. A.-noir-spaghetti-western grudge-war apocalypse . . . ." Maybe nothing could live up to that, but Richard Kadrey gives it a good try.
James Butler Hickok Stark (aka Sandman Slim) is a magician. A real one. Some his pals get rid of him by sending him to hell, not as a dead man but while he's still alive. Then they kill his sweetheart.
He's trapped in hell for 11 years, fighting monsters as a gladiator and serving as a hit man for demons. The book opens with his return to Los Angeles, and he's bent on revenge. To get it he has to fight demons, angels, magicians, and the kissim, beings that aren't demons or angels but worse than either.
L. A., it seems, is a hotbed of magic, and Kadrey's good at presenting it as a nightmare. So Slim's is not an easy job. Heads roll. Not to mention other things. There's violence enough for anybody, but Stark's one of those badasses who, we just know, is really decent at the core, no matter who or what he kills and how many nice people he damages in pursuit of vengeance.
The book's too long, and it's obviously the set-up for a sequel, but I had a good time reading it. If you give it a try, I don't think you'll be disappointed. For sure you won't read anything else like it this year.