I admit it. I have a big love for the urban fantasy stuff. I also enjoy a good anti-hero.
James Stark, a.k.a. Sandman Slim, is one of the most hardboiled, foul mouthed, don't-give-a-damn anti-heros I've run into. He doesn't have a lot of good qualities and he's stubborn as hell. Which is a good thing, because that is a big reason he survived being sent to Hell. It's also how he got back to earth.
I must also admit that I started this book shortly after it was published, but only finished it recently. That didn't have anything to do with the book itself, really. It had to do with the amount of tightly wound tension the author managed to pack into his terse, tight prose. It was tense, I tell you. Very tense.
Which is why I kept hauling the book around with me to finish. And it's why I finished it pretty quickly once I dove back in.
This is a story without any real good guys. Everybody is a bad guy, but in various shades from pale grey to blackest nothing. It's also a nuanced look at the world, which is kind of surprising in an urban fantasy. Slim isn't a rogue with a good heart. He isn't holding a little spark of love in his soul. He isn't harboring some dark secret that forces him to act against his inclinations. He isn't redeemable. He doesn't want to be redeemed. He flat out refuses it.
That's what hooked me. Well, and the prose, all prickly and sharp edged, outlined in razor wire. And the convoluted, upside down world. There are no cute puppies, no rays of sunshine gilding the head of our hero. It's sweaty and it stinks, this world, but it's still the world we have. When you ride along with Sandman Slim, you don't know what will happen, but you know it's going to hurt. And you're ok with that.
I'm going to check out the audio book versions of this series as well, because I'm curious what voicing they've chosen for little Jimmy Stark. It should sound like the reader gargled with ammonia.