The Getaway God by Richard Kadrey (Sandman Slim series #6)

Rivers of blood, Armageddon and a resurrected enemy Stark personally made sure was dead. Welcome to L.A.. The Old Gods are at the door and they want the squatters out. One problem, all of Stark’s favourite stuff is there, his DVD's, his guns and his girlfriend, and as they say possession is nine-tenths of the Law.

The best line in the book happens within the first couple of chapters and is pretty much the mantra for Stark’s up beat and positive personality… The Shorin says, "Drink all you want, dummy. You won't find God in a bottle." "I already found God," I say. "That’s why I drink."

Unfortunately for me this single line is the high point of the book. I'm a big fan of the Sandman Slim series, it's been one of my favourite reads for a while now, but I was very disappointed in The Getaway God. Normally, I would devour a new Sandman book as soon as I get my hands on it, but this time I actually had to come back to it over many days, it just wasn’t that engaging.

Honestly, I found the book to have a rushed and unpolished feel to it. It read like small pieces of the plot and dialogue where missing or maybe the small nuances and linkages that make a novel feel complete where just not there. One second you are reading how Stark is interacting with someone and then the flow and feel of the scene changes without any perceived transition. An example of this is the lead-in for the end of the world, which is taking place from page one, line one. These opening chapters have Stark speaking about this being the Apocalypse that is occurring all around them, but there appears to be no reference to how and when this begun. Yes, in the earlier books the end of the world is always spoken off, but we went from it being a possibility to it happening with the bit in the middle not relayed to the reader.

The book did begin to pick up when the character 'Saint Nick' was finally unmasked. This revealing provided a new dimension to the story that had previously been missing. Regrettably, this ramp up is short-lived; the idea behind the character was redundant and somewhat one-dimensional. When the reader finds out who Saint Nick really is, you expect so much more but it just never eventuated. Saint Nick has a good measure of Evil Genius but the crazy level was far too low and should really have been dialled up to ten, instead of the three where he operates.

Slight tangent now, one thing that confused me is the name of the serial killer 'The Wildfire Ripper' on the cover blurb. I checked a few other blurbs online and each of them also has the serial killer name as 'The Wildfire Ripper' also. I have no memory of this name in the book at any point. The killer is initially called by the name 'Saint Nick' before their true identity is revealed. I understand it's not really integral to the plot of the story but it’s a small thing I found very annoying and somewhat distracting as I searched for his name as I read. This I believe is yet another example (in my opinion) of book that isn't quite polished. The same can be said for the book's Title, The Getaway God. When I read that I immediately thought of some sort of heist, a getaway driver, maybe a god who works with Stark to steal something. I'm still not sure how the title refers to the story; I could search the net for it but I don’t want to taint my review just yet.

The Getaway God does have its positives. Even though I feel he was underutilised I really enjoyed the Stark and Saint Nick interactions. - SPOILER - The idea that Stark is tricked by Saint Nick in summoning the Old Gods probably isn’t going too be much of a surprise but it was fun to see Stark being lead down the garden path. The introduction of the 400-year-old Monk was genuinely interesting and added a good dynamic to the race to stop the end of the world. The idea that he mummified and buried himself in a hole in the ground so he could be around in the future to help save the world was very clever.

There where still some old school Sandman moments, which helped to keep the book and story in-line. When Stark is interacting with head of security, Ishii, for Blackburn The Augur of the Sub Rosa, you get glimpses of the cold, brutally direct and threatening Sandman Slim. However, while these qualities we love are present they still didn’t have the same bite and personality as before.

The last chapter of the book is good and regardless of the quality of the story we have a conclusion to the trails and pitfalls that Stark has had to take. Kadrey, if we do get another Sandman, hopefully will begin to progress beyond the reactionary motif of killing, hell, God’s a bastard and the devil is just trying to win his daddy's approval.

Overall, The Getaway God had some true Sandman Slim elements and concluded to a degree Stark's Sandman journey, but ultimately it didn’t feel like a cohesive and rounded novel.

6/10 Some true Sandman Slim elements but did not feel like a cohesive and rounded novel.

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