Aloha from Hell: A Sandman Slim Novel Hardcover – October 18, 2011
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“I hope Kadrey keeps putting out Sandman Slim books for the next 20 years. They’re that much fun to read.” (Wired)
“Kadrey’s prose is raw and gutter-tough, Raymond Chandler meets Lux Interior at the Whisky a Go Go at the end of days.” (Austin Chronicle)
“This bad-ass supernatural horror stuff is clearly the material he was born to write. Kadrey has an ungodly (literally) amount of fun with Stark’s wryer-than-wry and violenter-than-violent observations and dialog.” (Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing)
“Full of action, wit, and suspense, this grabbed a hold of me and wouldn’t let go. Kadrey is a master storyteller (overused, I know, but very apt) and he will have you rooting for him in Hell and on Earth.” (Suspense magazine)
“Kadrey knows how to spin a story, his prose is crisp and effortless, and the entertainment value is high.” (Charles de Lint, Fantasy & Science Fiction on Kill the Dead)
“Compelling...brilliantly metaphoric...profane mixture of noir atmospherics, black humor, and nonstop action will please Kadrey’s many fans.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Kadrey’s stylized treatment of the ubiquitous urban fantasy genre makes it seem fresh” (Kirkus Reviews)
“The perfect escapist storyline … side-splittingly funny. … gruesome slapstick mixed with down-and-dirty Hammett-esque mayhem and double-dealing. … If you’ve been hoping someone would bring the full-strength SoCal toxic waste to the urban fantasy game, then Sandman Slim is your poison.” (io9.com)
“If authors were tarot cards, Richard Kadrey would unarguably be the Hierophant of Paranormal Fantasy.” (Paul Goat Allen)
From the Back Cover
Supernatural fantasy’s greatest anti-hero goes back to hell!
In Sandman Slim Stark came back from hell for revenge.
In Kill the Dead he tackled both a zombie plague and being Lucifer’s bodyguard.
Once again all is not right in L.A. Lucifer is back in Heaven, God is on vacation, and an insane killer mounts a war against both Heaven and Hell.
Stark’s got to head back down to his old stomping grounds in Hell to rescue his long lost love, stop an insane serial killer, prevent both Good and Evil from completely destroying each other, and stop the demonic Kissi from ruining the party for everyone.
Even for Sandman Slim, that’s a tall order. And it’s only the beginning.
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The hero and narrator of these wham bam thank you ma’am supernatural thrillers is James Stark, aka Sandman Slim. He was wafted off to Hell while still alive, endured eleven years there as slave and gladiator and later enforcer, came back to earth and is now wreaking vengeance on those who originally betrayed him (and killed his girlfriend too) and then on any supernatural meanies who threaten little things like the Future of the Universe. The bad guys he fights are really, really bad –I mean capital letter BAD, how else can I write it? He ends up doubling for Lucifer for a short time but he’s not very good at it: his heart just isn’t in it. Along the way, he finds out why he survived one assault after the other in the gladiators’ arena in Hell: he’s not human. He’s half-angel and thus an Abomination (that’s what they call him) in the eyes of the more self-righteous of Heaven’s angels. He’s really only good at one thing, killing, but he’s very good at that and most of the time, he’s fighting the good fight. Most of the time. He’s got a new girlfriend, Candy. She’s a Jade, which is a scarier version of vampire, all claws and fangs when she manifests her Jade self to suck the life and soul out her victim. For now, she’s on a methadone-like substitution diet that keeps her need of human essence locked down (Most of the time.) Stark has an apartmentmate too, a man whose head he cut off in the first installment of the series. But he didn’t kill him, just separated head from body, and he feels a little bad he did it, so he and Kassabian coexist now, are almost buddies --they run a video store together that offers movie classics that were never made, along with a killer collection of porn and horror flicks. There are other friends and allies. A two-hundred-year-old man, Vidocq, a whiz with potions, who functions as a surrogate father to Stark. (Most of the time.) His great-grandfather, now in Hell after being back shot in a card game, the legendary Wild Bill Hickock. When he was Lucifer, Stark set Bill up in a bar in Hell and he visits there every so often to quaff a few shots of Aqua Regia and smoke a few Maledictions, Hell’s cigarettes and stronger than French Gitanes. Carlos runs the Bamboo House of Dolls in L. A. Stark likes to hang out there as do all sorts of non-human types good and evil. The stakes ratchet up from novel to novel in this peerless (of its own sort) series. Start hunts down the bad guys who sent him to Hell in the first place and wreaks vengeance on them (Sandman Slim, 2009); takes on zombies in Kill the Dead (2010); fights an insane serial killer and the demonic Kissi (think Nazi Storm Troopers with supernatural powers) in Aloha from Hell (2011); returns to Hell to take up the mantle of Lucifer, its ruler, in Devil Said Bang (2012); enters as haunted shopping mall to find a dead man’s ghost and win back a supernatural artifact that can end the world in Kill City Blues (2013); steps it up against a vicious killer named St. Nick in The Getaway God (2014); hunts for the man, or creature, that has just killed Death (with Dead dead, no one is dying any more) in Killing Pretty (2015); and returns to Hell (with his girlfriend Candy) to find a remedy for a black poison that has killed his best friend (Vidocq, but he’s dormant, not dead yet) in The Perdition Score (2016). The scenes of violence and bloodshed are frequent and graphic, but not stomach churning. The sex is handled in an off hand way –it’s part of Stark’s and Candy’s lives but not one that needs to be narrated in microsecond detail. The bad guys are really bad, really big, and really powerful. And at almost any moment, if Stark fails, something really bad will happen, ranging from the collapse of the barriers between Heaven and Hell to the destruction of the universe. It’s quality junk fiction, with no redeeming social value at all except that I loved it. I ate it up. I can’t wait for the next episode to appear.
Stark's slowly getting past memories and dreams of his murdered girlfriend, Alice, and has started seeing Candy, a monster in her own right. But when a search for a missing teenager reveals some unexpected and unpleasant suprises, he realizes he's let his worst enemy accrue too much power and become a threat. Something must be done.
And that something involves returning to Hell to rescue the soul of his beloved Alice, rescuing a demon general from Tartarus - the place the denizens of Hell go when they die, bringing the powerful but chaotic Kissi into line, getting to know Jack the Ripper, and finishing once and for all his deadly feud with Mason Faim.
If that sounds like a lot, it kind of is. Kadrey is not afraid to stuff his books with great ideas and inventive plot points - it's one of the things that make his writing so propulsive and readable - but while his previouis outings have done that and done it well, "Aloha from Hell" feels just a bit over-stuffed. As usual, Stark is a fountain of black humor, but it's a notch less funny than in the last novel, and although the author continues to studiously weave all elements of the story to completion - Kadrey appears to hate plot holes, for which he is to be lauded - it seems a little rushed at times.
That's not to say that, if you like the previous Sandman Slim books, you won't like this one - you will. It's just not quite as strong as the prior two novels. (I'm already looking forward to book four...)
Also, there's the constant mix-up with Max Overdrive being called Max Overload, and then being referred to Max Overdrive again for the remaining half of the novel. I have a feeling this is just the author messing with readers.
There are some editing issues too, at least for the kindle editions. And these books have been out for a while by now. In one part of the book, Kasabian is accidentally referred to as Mason. Anyway, these are all just nitpicks. I have really enjoyed the stories to this point, and I'll most likely buy and read the whole series.
Top international reviews
Aloha From Hell is the third Sandman Slim Novel and once again Kadrey doesn't disappoint his fans. The book picks up after Stark embraces his nephalim heritage and discovers that Archangel Uriel is his father. His assistance is sought in a botched exorcism and during the investigation he learns that Mason is amassing troops to invade heaven which would mean the end of the world. In the meantime Lucifer is back in heaven and having abdicated his role, Mason has stepped in to lead the troops. Aelita tries to draw Stark into the war by plucking Alice from heaven and hiding her in an asylum in hell. The only thing Stark can do is save Alice and stop the war by using one of the Hellion Generals that's been killed and is stuck in Tartarus (a sub-hell where murdered hellions and double damned souls are sent). No one has ever escaped Tartarus and Stark's plans seem hopeless. Along the way he meets God (or rather part of God) and he gets to save the girl, the General and the universe. There's a final showdown between Stark and Mason and Stark's human form dies. His angel half separates from him and decides to go back to earth as Stark. Stark's other half is left in hell and is now the new Lucifer.
I love the Sandman Slim series purely because of its great story line, the humorous dialogue and über gory scenes. If like me you have a great imagination, it's very easy to immerse yourself neck deep in the Hellion life. The pace is quite reasonable but really picks up towards the last 20 % of the book. I was starting to worry that the author may have lost his edge and that I needed to shelf the series, but the ending really got its talons hooked into me. I'm off to read the next book in the series, Devil Said Bang.
Does it work? Yes.
Did it progress the story arc? Definitely!
Did I enjoy it as much as previous books? Strangely no.
I think one of the things I have most enjoyed in earlier books in the series, is Kadrey's ability to combine Theology, LA culture and cynicism. This book dumps a lot of those, and takes us on a tour of Hell and Purgatory. Of course, they are surreal, but without LA, it feels like something is missing.
I wonder what is coming next?
Great stuff going on in Hell and the plot is tightening up - playful stuff with the denizens of all domains with anarchic and snotty behaviour from the Sandman.
Thoroughly engaging read and just got the latest book, so will be motoring through the next two in the hope that Aelita gets eviscerated and shredded twice on the way down to her abominable end.
Got to like where this series is going : )