Fiction Short Take: The Wrong Dead Guy – Richard Kadrey

This is volume two in Kadrey’s new series and takes this acclaimed urban fantasist into Christopher Moore territory. In fact, Moore himself called the first volume, The Everything Box, “A rolling bouncy-house of a caper tale…quick-witted characters, snarky dialogue, and surreal analogies. If you haven’t sampled Richard Kadrey’s take on fantasy yet, this is a great place to start.”

“[I]nveterate thief Coop is a fast-talking criminal making his way through a supernatural substratum of society. Last time around, he saved the world and has now reluctantly been seconded to the Department of Peculiar Science….Coop’s boss, Woolrich, orders his team on a new mission: ‘A simple theft. A local museum has a mummy on display. We’d like to have it instead of them.’ What sounds like a simple heist quickly becomes mortal danger when they accidentally awaken Harkhuf, an evil mummy imbued with dark magic, which is totally the worst kind of magic, apparently….A goofy, flamboyant, and breathless horror adventure by one of the genre’s sharpest creators.”
Kirkus

“Cross Donald Westlake’s John Dortmunder with Lawrence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr, add a layer of supernatural shenanigans, and if you are as talented a writer as Richard Kadrey, you end up with Coop, thief protagonist of The Everything Box….Richard Kadrey is a master of paranormal suspense and relatable antiheroes with a strong dose of dark humor, and The Wrong Dead Guy is a delight from beginning to end. Highly recommended.”
— Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

The Wrong Dead Guy (9780062389572) by Richard Kadrey. $24.99 hardcover. 2/28/17 on sale.

New Fiction: The Everything Box – Richard Kadrey

Kadrey’s long-running Sandman Slim series has a devoted following that has, over time, put Kadrey on the bestseller lists, not to mention garnering one of my all-time favorite book endorsements:

“The best B movie I’ve read in at least twenty years. An addictively satisfying, deeply amusing, dirty-ass masterpiece…an LA noir spaghetti western grudge-war apocalypse, fought with magic, shotguns, occult artifacts, and (at one point) the broken wooden handle of a toilet plunger. Sweet.”
— William Gibson

For those of us with somewhat more delicate sensibilities, this time out Kadrey offers a gentler but no less inventive story–more Christopher Moore than Jim Butcher. In fact, Moore is a fan, saying, “A rolling bouncy-house of a caper tale, The Everything Box abounds with quick-witted characters, snarky dialogue, and surreal analogies.”

The plot? In 2000 B.C. and angel loses a small box that happens to be the engine of humanity’s destruction. In 2015, a thief delivers what he thinks is a simple, supernatural heirloom into the wrong hands. And the race to get hold of this doomsday box and save the world is on.

Advance reviews and bookseller praise suggest that Kadrey’s likely to expand his legion of fans with this one.

Coop is a thief whose immunity to magic lets him specialize in stealing magical objects – until he steals a box that could trigger the Apocalypse. Now fallen angels, supernatural law enforcement officials, rival doomsday cult leaders and just plain criminals all want the box, and expect Coop to get it for them. Can Coop keep himself and his friends alive – and will there still be a world left for them to live in if he does? Kadrey is a master of edgy humor, complex plotting, and nonstop action with a paranormal edge, and The Everything Box is an engagingly dark delight to read!
— Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books and Music. Okemos, MI

“Kadrey draws heavily on Gaiman and Pratchett’s classic novel, Good Omens, for inspiration, and in equal measure on Donald Westlake’s caper comedies. Kadrey’s plot doesn’t depend on magic; instead, magic is the broth bringing all manner of delicious ingredients together in this wonderful stew of a story. This unusual urban fantasy is a delight.”
Publishers Weekly

“A supernatural comic caper that reads like one of the late Donald Westlake’s Dortmunder novels sprinkled with some fairy dust.”
Kirkus

  “Thoroughly entertaining and hilarious… I was laughing all the way to the end. Speaking of the end, good endings are very important to me, and this one was particularly satisfying…I can easily recommend this to a casual fantasy reader, or someone looking for a good laugh.
–Kate Schreffler, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Lexington, KY

The Everything Box (9780062389541) by Richard Kadrey. $24.99 hardcover. 4/19/16 on sale.

Short Takes: Three Supernatural Thrill Rides

Zombies. Zombies on the Mexican border. It might sound like a bridge too far but in Mansbach’s hands, Dead Run, the first book in this sly, violent series felt like watching a Tarantino or Robert Rodriquez movie. Reviewers called it “surreal…ambitiously plotted…full throttle…first-rate entertainment based on a fascinating cultural mashup.”

The Devil’s Bag Man continues the saga of protagonist Jess Galvan, now inhabited by the soul of a savage, five-hundred-year-old Aztec priest. It’s action packed terror for the dog days of summer. J Entertainment Weekly featured it in its Summer Books Preview and advance reviews are great.

[R]arely has a writer demonstrated he’s having as much fun as Mansbach clearly is with this demented series combining contemporary crime action, Mexican mythology, irreverent comedy, and straight-up horror….Jess is living out in the desert with a head full of angry Aztec god. On the plus side, he’s been imbued with inhuman strength and endurance, but on the minus side, he’s having a hell of a time keeping Cucuy at bay. ‘Two souls, one body. The math was a bitch,’ …. Like great pulp fiction or midnight movies, the book’s profane, hyperactive, and gloriously violent style will repel more sensitive readers and make those who revel in Tarantino scripts, Breaking Bad, or zombie flicks giddy with anticipation.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“Mansbach skillfully keeps the characterization and language of ancient priests and gods distinct from the modern idiom, so when Mexican prisons, cross-border cartels, modern police investigations, and fatherly concern finally come together with magically beating hearts and armies of undead virgins, the effect of worlds colliding is devastatingly effective….”
Publishers Weekly

“[A]n adrenaline-pumping bang teeming with vivid, violent imagery. Imagine an Indiana Jones–style story, starring the Hulk and directed by Robert Rodriquez; surely satisfying for readers craving a bloody supernatural jolt.”
Booklist

The Devil’s Bag Man (9780062199683) by Adam Mansbach. $24.99 hardcover. 7/21/15 on sale.

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Farnsworth is the author of the cult-favorite President’s Vampire series and this new book finds us back in the land of high-concept historical horror with a tale of Spanish conquistadors who drink from the Fountain of Youth and become immortal. Bad immortals. When an ancient adversary sworn to revenge destroys the Fountain, the conquistadors turn to modern science to replicate the waters of eternal life. Carnage, plot twists galore and lot of witty dialogue ensue. Of his last book, the Washington Post said, “Farnsworth summons his talents as a scriptwriter and journalist to spin a complex and unnervingly realistic tale . . . The supernatural elements here are dazzlingly clever.” That’s certainly true for this new book, too.

In 1537, Simón de Oliveras y Seixas and five of his closest soldiers claim the fountain of youth in the Florida swamps after slaughtering the members of the Water Clan of the Uzita, who guard ‘The Water.’ Nearly 500 years later, Simon Oliver III, as Simón now calls himself, heads Conquest Biotech, a firm best known for its anti-aging pharmaceuticals, and his fellow Spanish conquistadors run the board. With the fountain’s water supply dwindling, Simon hires scientific genius David Robinton to find its secret. Meanwhile, Simon and his cohorts remain locked in a centuries-old war with Shako, the daughter of the Uzita chief and the massacre’s only survivor. Each man is obsessed with living forever, yet exhausted from the lies and hiding they’ve done for centuries and bored by life’s pleasures.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A fantastical witch’s brew of Spanish conquistadors, biotechnology, and hubris . . . with cinematic pacing and colorful action scenes, Farnsworth blends a unique premise into fun summer reading . . . entertainingly explores the border where science fantasy meets reality.”
— Kirkus Reviews

The Eternal World (9780062282927) by Christopher Farnsworth. $25.99 hardcover. 8/4/15 on sale.

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Just a heads up for Kadrey’s legion of fans that the seventh installment is here. If you are not familiar with this dark, comic urban fantasy series, William Gibson pretty much nails it:

The best B movie I’ve read in at least twenty years. An addictively satisfying, deeply amusing, dirty-ass masterpiece, Sandman Slim swerves hell-bent through our culture’s impacted gridlock of genres, sideswiping so many, so brilliantly, so constantly, that it’s like watching Sergio Leone and Clive Barker co-direct from a script by Jim Thompson and S. Clay Wilson: an LA noir spaghetti western grudge-war apocalypse, fought with magic, shotguns, occult artifacts, and (at one point) the broken wooden handle of a toilet plunger. Sweet.” [I never get tired of that blurb!]

Seven books in you might think the premise is getting a little long in the tooth–but not according to Cory Doctorow: “Kadrey’s done amazing work keeping one of literature’s great anti-heroes in adventures this long, and Killing Pretty proves that he isn’t slowing down.”

After you’ve saved the universe and defeated the old gods, what do you do for an encore? In the case of James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, Death finds you – but only because you’re the only one who can help him out. Someone wants to take over for Death, and has bound him to a body that they then tried to kill. Meanwhile, Stark is starting to realize that his standard approach to problems – that is, killing things and making people angry – is putting everyone he cares about in danger. Kadrey is a master of nonstop pacing, surreal violence and off-the-wall humor, and Sandman Slim’s latest adventure is his best yet. Highly recommended!”
— Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

“Urban fantasy fans who place a premium on humor are most likely to enjoy Kadrey’s seventh Sandman Slim novel. Slim, aka James Stark, is one of the nephilim—half human, half angel—who’s working as a PI in Los Angeles….Kadrey gives him another daunting challenge: someone dragged Death into a human body and cut out his heart, killing him, and Stark’s boss, Julie Sola, wants him to find out whodunit. Julie hopes that finding Death’s killer will restore some normalcy, as after the assault ‘no one is dying anywhere’….plenty of over-the-top entertainment.”
Publishers Weekly

Killing Pretty: A Sandman Slim Novel (9780062373106) by Richard Kadrey. $25.99 hardcover. 7/28/15 on sale.

New Fiction: Dead Set – Richard Kadrey

When a colleague told me that the author of the “Sandman Slim” novels had written a standalone that could work as a YA crossover novel, I couldn’t quite believe my ears. The action in Sandman Slim might well be called “eyeball searing.” (William Gibson said of the first one that it’s  “The best B movie I’ve read in at least twenty years. An addictively satisfying, deeply amusing, dirty-ass masterpiece.”)

Needless to say, I had to read it–and was the happier for having done so. Kadrey ably adds to coming-of-age fiction with the story of a teen girl coming to terms with her father’s death. But Kadrey being Kadrey, this dark fantasy involves a journey that starts in a used record store, where the souls of the dead are caught on vinyl, keeping them from making their final journey. When the shop’s proprietor offers Zoe the chance to see her father again, both Zoe and the reader start an adventure that Cory Doctorow calls “supernatural horror with deep punk roots.”

Dead Set was featured as part of Publishers Weekly’s “Most Anticipated Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Novels / Fall 2013” and the Los Angeles Times just did a feature on Kadrey and the book.

A fantastic supernatural horror novel with deep punk roots … Kadrey’s underworld is a gloomy mirror of the overworld with all its injustice and broken dreams, and Zoe’s battle with her fear and her honorable spirit put her in enough jeopardy for six novels.
— Cory Doctorow

This bittersweet and elegiac fantasy will appeal to both fantasy fans and mainstream readers.”
— Publishers Weekly

“An intelligent stand-alone tale of quiet horror that should appeal to Kadrey’s many fans, as well as to lovers of more subtle shivers.”
— Library Journal

“If punk and underworld mythology got into the mosh pit, it would come out something like this book; spiky and pretty with lashings of black eyeliner and its heart tattooed on its sleeve.”
— Lauren Beukes

Dead Set (9780062283016) by Richard Kadrey. $22.99 hardcover. 10/29/13 on sale.

Cult Favorite: Sandman Slim – Richard Kadrey

We just released the fifth book in the Sandman Slim series, a cult favorite that runs on a high-testosterone dose of violence, humor and cultural observation. It’s a heady combination, especially coupled with Richard Kadrey’s gift for language.

Fans include Cory Doctorow and William Gibson, who wrote one of my all-time favorite endorsements for the first book in the series:

The best B movie I’ve read in at least twenty years. An addictively satisfying, deeply amusing, dirty-ass masterpiece, Sandman Slim swerves hell-bent through our culture’s impacted gridlock of genres, sideswiping so many, so brilliantly, so constantly, that it’s like watching Sergio Leone and Clive Barker co-direct from a script by Jim Thompson and S. Clay Wilson: an LA noir spaghetti western grudge-war apocalypse, fought with magic, shotguns, occult artifacts, and (at one point) the broken wooden handle of a toilet plunger. Sweet.”

There are a couple good profiles on Kadrey right now offering some insight into the appeal of Sandman Slim.

From the San Francisco Chronicle’s feature on the Sandman Slim” mythos:

The book series is full of violence, demons and gore. Stark’s voice balances the murky world with a wry sense of humor.  ‘The very first version of the Sandman Slim book, that no one has ever seen, I wrote straight with no humor. … It didn’t work at all, the character falls out of a cemetery, he goes to a bar, he has a drink and he cuts a guy’s head off,’ Kadrey says. ‘If you don’t have humor along the way, it’s just too gruesome for anyone to want to read.’

That humor comes into play in Kill City Blues as Stark pokes fun at the world around him, the general population who can’t see all the dark spirits in their midst. Kill City Blues is mostly set in a mall in Santa Monica, so we get to read Stark’s take on modern consumer culture, all while he battles the forces of good and evil and everything in between.”

There’s another feature in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Kill City Blues: A Sandman Slim Novel (9780062094599) by Richard Kadrey. $24.99 hardcover. 7/30/13 on sale.

Previous books in the series: