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Ballistic Kiss

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Sandman Slim is back in Los Angeles and kicking more supernatural ass in this inventive, high-octane page-turner—the next to last volume in the popular and acclaimed fantasy adventure series from New York Times bestselling author Richard Kadrey. As the battle between warring angels continues, James Stark is focused on seemingly simpler matters now that he’s resurfaced on ea Sandman Slim is back in Los Angeles and kicking more supernatural ass in this inventive, high-octane page-turner—the next to last volume in the popular and acclaimed fantasy adventure series from New York Times bestselling author Richard Kadrey. As the battle between warring angels continues, James Stark is focused on seemingly simpler matters now that he’s resurfaced on earth: an invasion of ghosts. L.A.’s Little Cairo neighborhood has suddenly been overrun by violent spirits, and Thomas Abbott knows if anyone can figure out why they’ve appeared—and how to get rid of them—it’s Stark. Armed with the Room of Thirteen Doors, Stark quickly learns that the answer may reach back to the 1970s and the unsolved murder of small-time actor, Chris Stein. As he begins to dig into the cold case, another area of Stark’s life takes an unexpected turn when he becomes entangled with Janet, a woman he saved during the High Plains Drifter zombie attack. Janet’s brush with the living dead hasn’t quenched her thirst for danger. She’s an adrenaline junkie and a member of The Zero Lodge—a club that promises “there’s zero chance you’ll get out alive.” The Lodge attracts thrill seekers who flock to perilous events such as night walks through the LA Zoo—with its deadliest animals uncaged. Joining the lodge to be with Janet, Stark makes a pair of crucial discoveries that could decide the fate of LA and Heaven itself. To prevent the Little Cairo haunting from consuming the city, Stark must piece together the connections between the Lodge and a missing angel last seen in a Hollywood porn palace. But while he may dispatch the ghosts, Stark knows that without his help, the bloody war in Heaven could rage forever.


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Sandman Slim is back in Los Angeles and kicking more supernatural ass in this inventive, high-octane page-turner—the next to last volume in the popular and acclaimed fantasy adventure series from New York Times bestselling author Richard Kadrey. As the battle between warring angels continues, James Stark is focused on seemingly simpler matters now that he’s resurfaced on ea Sandman Slim is back in Los Angeles and kicking more supernatural ass in this inventive, high-octane page-turner—the next to last volume in the popular and acclaimed fantasy adventure series from New York Times bestselling author Richard Kadrey. As the battle between warring angels continues, James Stark is focused on seemingly simpler matters now that he’s resurfaced on earth: an invasion of ghosts. L.A.’s Little Cairo neighborhood has suddenly been overrun by violent spirits, and Thomas Abbott knows if anyone can figure out why they’ve appeared—and how to get rid of them—it’s Stark. Armed with the Room of Thirteen Doors, Stark quickly learns that the answer may reach back to the 1970s and the unsolved murder of small-time actor, Chris Stein. As he begins to dig into the cold case, another area of Stark’s life takes an unexpected turn when he becomes entangled with Janet, a woman he saved during the High Plains Drifter zombie attack. Janet’s brush with the living dead hasn’t quenched her thirst for danger. She’s an adrenaline junkie and a member of The Zero Lodge—a club that promises “there’s zero chance you’ll get out alive.” The Lodge attracts thrill seekers who flock to perilous events such as night walks through the LA Zoo—with its deadliest animals uncaged. Joining the lodge to be with Janet, Stark makes a pair of crucial discoveries that could decide the fate of LA and Heaven itself. To prevent the Little Cairo haunting from consuming the city, Stark must piece together the connections between the Lodge and a missing angel last seen in a Hollywood porn palace. But while he may dispatch the ghosts, Stark knows that without his help, the bloody war in Heaven could rage forever.

30 review for Ballistic Kiss

  1. 5 out of 5

    ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)

    Jimmy Stark, aka Little Lamb Lost. I never thought I'd live to see the day. Shocking as fish, isn't it? Don't let it worry you too much, though. Jimmy's still as much of a homicidal maniac as he ever was, so things are not as bad as they seem. Hahahaha, just kidding. Of course they are. I mean, this is Sandman Slim, after all😬. ➽ Full review to come and stuff. · Book 1: Sandman Slim ★★★★★ · Book 2: Kill the Dead ★★★★★ · Book 3: Aloha from Hell ★★★★ · Book 3.5: Devil in the Dollhouse ★★★★★ · Book 4: De Jimmy Stark, aka Little Lamb Lost. I never thought I'd live to see the day. Shocking as fish, isn't it? Don't let it worry you too much, though. Jimmy's still as much of a homicidal maniac as he ever was, so things are not as bad as they seem. Hahahaha, just kidding. Of course they are. I mean, this is Sandman Slim, after all😬. ➽ Full review to come and stuff. · Book 1: Sandman Slim ★★★★★ · Book 2: Kill the Dead ★★★★★ · Book 3: Aloha from Hell ★★★★ · Book 3.5: Devil in the Dollhouse ★★★★★ · Book 4: Devil Said Bang ★★★★ · Book 5: Kill City Blues ★★★★ · Book 6: The Getaway God ★★★★★ · Book 7: Killing Pretty ★★★★ · Book 9: The Kill Society ★★★★★ · Book 10: Hollywood Dead ★★★★★ [November 2019] My #1 boyfriend, The Utmostly Yummilicious Jimmy Stark (TUYJS™) is finally back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He'd been locked up holidaying in my High Security Harem, recovering from his Hollywood Dead adventures (and enjoying my, um, tender ministrations), but suddenly decided it was maybe perhaps time to visit you puny humans for a little while. (I wonder why, since he's been having such a grand subaquatic time with my nefarious little self and stuff.) He'll be coming to a book store near you on August 25, 2020. So you better be there and stuff. (But don't you go gettin' silly little ideas in your silly little heads. My Jimmy will be in the custody under the loving care of Fleet Admiral DaShrimp and 100,000 murderous crustaceans at all times. Thou hast been warned and stuff.) Anyway, just thought I'd let you know and stuff. And now, if you'll excuse, I have some Hardcore Heavy Panting (H²P™) to do. And stuff. Oh, and also:

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Ballistic Kiss is the eleventh book in Kadrey's Sandman Slim gritty urban fantasy series set in parts of Hollywood and parts of Hell (as if there were much difference). Magic, ghosts, and massive slobbering beasts are the order of the day as are long stretches about hipster gatherings and the world's last video store.

  3. 4 out of 5

    kartik narayanan

    This book is underwhelming. Maybe it's me and I have forgotten the structure of the earliest Sandman Slim novels. Or maybe its the fact that Sandman Slim might have outstayed his welcome. Or that there is yet another setup for a universe-shattering calamity. It just feels like the charm is no longer there. Sandman Slim and his coterie of friends seem like paper-thin characters, the plot seems insipid and the resolution boring.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Skip

    This book did not get very good reviews, but I liked it. James Stark/Sandman Slim is hiding out in a house owned by the Sub Rosa Augur, for services rendered in the last book. He is asked to exorcise the ghosts ravaging LA's Little Cairo before they escape and wreak havoc on the rest of the city. And, Samael wants Stark to find Zadkiel, an AWOL angel, to help to end the ongoing war in Heaven. Stark is coaxed out of his shell by his old friends, perhaps with some chemical assistance, and it was gr This book did not get very good reviews, but I liked it. James Stark/Sandman Slim is hiding out in a house owned by the Sub Rosa Augur, for services rendered in the last book. He is asked to exorcise the ghosts ravaging LA's Little Cairo before they escape and wreak havoc on the rest of the city. And, Samael wants Stark to find Zadkiel, an AWOL angel, to help to end the ongoing war in Heaven. Stark is coaxed out of his shell by his old friends, perhaps with some chemical assistance, and it was great to see him spending time with his old flame, Candy. They both feel guilty since they each have a primary girlfriend -- in Stark's case, a gender-fluid, thrill-seeking, donut shop employee named Janet. While facing the ghosts in Little Cairo, Stark happens on a murder victim from the 1970's and has to solve the weird circumstances surrounding his death in order to stop the madness, endangering a number of his closest allies. Meanwhile, Janet is involved with a group of crazy people called the Zero Lodge, which of course, requires Stark's awesome ability to wield violence and vengeance to save her life. I agree with most other reviewers that: (1) Janet is a weak character, but I cut her some slack for saving Brigitte Bardot, and (2) Fuck Hollywood may have a bright future working in the House of Dolls for Carlos. Flicker's assistance with the Stay Belows was another highlight for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kitty

    This was not great, not typical of the series. One sure fire way of knowing when an author has spent a bit too long in a world is when they introduce current political and social issues into their story. It reeks of having run out of creativity. Such a cop-out. So lame. I read these to escape this world and enjoy a new one. That didn’t happen. This book felt more like a long lesson in genders and their pronouns than a good ole James Stark adventure. I’m not saying it’s not an important issue,but This was not great, not typical of the series. One sure fire way of knowing when an author has spent a bit too long in a world is when they introduce current political and social issues into their story. It reeks of having run out of creativity. Such a cop-out. So lame. I read these to escape this world and enjoy a new one. That didn’t happen. This book felt more like a long lesson in genders and their pronouns than a good ole James Stark adventure. I’m not saying it’s not an important issue,but Just having Janet correct his usage a time or two would have been fine and probably more effective in getting across how normal being different is rather than having to make a huge old thing out of it. That was just painful. Over and over again painful. A sandman slim book just isn’t the forum to hop on that kind of soapbox. There’s one more book coming out. I hope he ends better than this. Sandman Slim deserves to go out with a bang.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    This has been one of my favorite all-time series, with each book typically better than its predecessors. But this was a strange, subdued outing this time. -0.5 stars for Stark on anti-anxiety/PTSD drugs -0.5 stars for the absurd Zero Lodge that Stark just rolls with. -0.5 stars for coincidences (e.g. Allegra asks to go the zoo where there just so happens to be a Zero Lodge outing at that exact same moment). -0.5 stars for the frustrating, irritatingly stupid Janet character. Kadrey is great at writ This has been one of my favorite all-time series, with each book typically better than its predecessors. But this was a strange, subdued outing this time. -0.5 stars for Stark on anti-anxiety/PTSD drugs -0.5 stars for the absurd Zero Lodge that Stark just rolls with. -0.5 stars for coincidences (e.g. Allegra asks to go the zoo where there just so happens to be a Zero Lodge outing at that exact same moment). -0.5 stars for the frustrating, irritatingly stupid Janet character. Kadrey is great at writing strong, intelligent characters. This is not one of them.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Soo

    08/25/2020 Notes: - 4.5 Stars for Narration by MacLeod Andrews - I think this is my fav one by him for Sandman Slim. - 4 Stars for Plot Classic Sandman. Though, I wasn't ready for how upset he was in the story. I should have been because of the last book, but I wasn't. - I can see this book becoming a 5 Star on a re-read. It's full of sharp edges, crazy people, couple of great events for the overall plot arc, warm fuzzies of friendship and Stark's very odd idea of relationship. He needs to work on 08/25/2020 Notes: - 4.5 Stars for Narration by MacLeod Andrews - I think this is my fav one by him for Sandman Slim. - 4 Stars for Plot Classic Sandman. Though, I wasn't ready for how upset he was in the story. I should have been because of the last book, but I wasn't. - I can see this book becoming a 5 Star on a re-read. It's full of sharp edges, crazy people, couple of great events for the overall plot arc, warm fuzzies of friendship and Stark's very odd idea of relationship. He needs to work on that. =P

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bakertyl

    This series keeps getting weirder in the best possible way. Even if I don't like it as much as previous books in the series. The plot follows the tried and true pattern for Sandman Slim... people don't survive long. But I like the shift in the story: Slim becomes more and more human, leaving the stress and pacing of previous books to become a person I can imagine existing. From PTSD to respecting office politics, I really like how this book shifts the story. But... Janet. Why? I understand why he n This series keeps getting weirder in the best possible way. Even if I don't like it as much as previous books in the series. The plot follows the tried and true pattern for Sandman Slim... people don't survive long. But I like the shift in the story: Slim becomes more and more human, leaving the stress and pacing of previous books to become a person I can imagine existing. From PTSD to respecting office politics, I really like how this book shifts the story. But... Janet. Why? I understand why he needs a new love interest, to play on the idea of his past conflicting with his future, and that part of the story is well done. But why the big deal about non-binary? Its half a damn chapter explaining something like a step-mother explaining a controversial subject to a teenager... just, why? You've got non-binary angels and a lesbian couple, I guess we just needed a sitdown to talk about pronouns? I infinitely prefer how Sarah Gailey handled this in River of Teeth, one person is pan and we're just gonna roll with it. No explanation, they're a human living their life and don't owe anyone an explanation. Or The Perfect Assassin by K.A. Doore, homosexuality is such a non-issue its not even discussed; if two people with dicks want to fall in love they just do. Kadre just introduced this issue in the most afterschool-special way possible. Besides the most awkward conversation about pronouns in the history of ever, I like where the book leads the overall story. A hard ending with foreshadowing to the next book that seems obvious (?) but I'll guess we'll see soon enough. **I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Maxine

    James Stark aka Sandman Slim is back in Ballistic Kiss, the eleventh installment in the Sandman Sim paranormal noir detective series by Richard Kadrey and it’s all kinds of fun. Stark is trying to readjust to life in LA when he is recruited to clear out a ghost infestation in Little Cairo. It seems like an easy job but these ghosts are not only destructive, normal magic doesn’t work on them. Instead, he must find what’s keeping them here which may take some time - time he doesn’t have much of - James Stark aka Sandman Slim is back in Ballistic Kiss, the eleventh installment in the Sandman Sim paranormal noir detective series by Richard Kadrey and it’s all kinds of fun. Stark is trying to readjust to life in LA when he is recruited to clear out a ghost infestation in Little Cairo. It seems like an easy job but these ghosts are not only destructive, normal magic doesn’t work on them. Instead, he must find what’s keeping them here which may take some time - time he doesn’t have much of - the ghosts are being contained for now but, if they manage to break out, all hell could break loose...literally. But it’s not all bad for Stark. He’s started a new relationship with Janet, the gender-fluid waitress at his favourite coffee shop. Trouble is, she’s a member of The Zero Lodge, an extreme death cult. Despite Stark’s warnings, she refuses to quit so he’s forced to join to protect her, a move that could be even more dangerous than those rampaging ghosts. Sandman Slim is the kind of series that always manages to keep the reader entertained and wanting more and Ballistic Kiss is no exception. It’s peopled with unique characters, both old and new, a storyline that sucks the reader in quickly, and plenty of action to keep the pages turning furiously. Definitely a high recommendation for both fans of the series and for people who have never read it before but enjoy paranormal noir, you’re in for a real treat. Thanks to Edelweiss+ and Harper Voyager for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kevin. McKernan

    Interesting and worthwhile read

  11. 5 out of 5

    Fábio Fernandes

    It's one of the best Fantasy series ever. I can't get tired of James Stark.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    A solid addition to the series. Was Stark more socially awkward in this than usual?!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Keroro

    "When You're trying to hold off a hellbeast you better have something bigger than a meadball sub. Especially if it happens to be Your only weapon. I mean, this isn't even a good sandwich. A good meatball sub should be hard to hold" Bought that masterpiece yesterday for $29 at B&N three days before it's official release, read half of it yesterday night. Very slow beginning, not very well connected to previous part, the same characters Candy, Alesse, Janet, Allegra ... all women characters ... lol A "When You're trying to hold off a hellbeast you better have something bigger than a meadball sub. Especially if it happens to be Your only weapon. I mean, this isn't even a good sandwich. A good meatball sub should be hard to hold" Bought that masterpiece yesterday for $29 at B&N three days before it's official release, read half of it yesterday night. Very slow beginning, not very well connected to previous part, the same characters Candy, Alesse, Janet, Allegra ... all women characters ... lol Anyway, not going to spoil it here, three points ... Update: reduced score to two points ... lol ...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Schiller

    Sandman Slim is back! And he's...a ghosthunter? The Augur has Stark trying to exorcise Little Cairo before the ghosts can escape and destroy the city of L.A. On top of that, Samael has him looking for an AWOL angel in the hope she can help to end the war in Heaven. All of Stark's Sub Rosa and mundane friends are back, with the addition of Janet, a gender-fluid donut shop worker whose life Stark had saved during the invasion of the High Plains Drifters. Between Janet and his old girlfriend Candy, Sandman Slim is back! And he's...a ghosthunter? The Augur has Stark trying to exorcise Little Cairo before the ghosts can escape and destroy the city of L.A. On top of that, Samael has him looking for an AWOL angel in the hope she can help to end the war in Heaven. All of Stark's Sub Rosa and mundane friends are back, with the addition of Janet, a gender-fluid donut shop worker whose life Stark had saved during the invasion of the High Plains Drifters. Between Janet and his old girlfriend Candy, Samael, the Augur, and ghosts, Stark nearly has more than he can handle. AND there's The Zero Lodge, a questionable group that play tag on the freeway, among other fun activities. Oh, and there's a murder from the 1970s to be solved as well... This is the eleventh book in the Sandman Slim series, and I hope Mr Kadrey writes more. I was hooked on the third page of the first book, when James Stark crawls back to Earth from Hell through a grave in Hollywood Forever cemetery; he's looking for revenge on the coven that sent him Downtown ten years ago. The series is written in first person from Stark's point of view, and I just can't help but see and hear Bruce Campbell in his Evil Dead days (only with more scars) when I read and re-read this series. Stark lives in L.A., and if one is familiar with area, it's easy to picture exactly where the action is taking place. The characters are very well written and believable, and encounter plenty of monsters and deities in impossible situations and wild locations. Start from book one and read through Ballistic Kiss — or read Ballistic Kiss, then start with book one and read Ballistic Kiss again! I'm sure the series will become one of your favorite reads. #Ballistic Kiss #NetGalley

  15. 5 out of 5

    Eveline Hecklinger

    I don't think I can adequately convey how badly my heart hurts giving this book 3 stars. Lots of issues here. First of all the whole pronoun thing. Don't even come for me. I have a gay kid with transgender friends, but this whole non binary thing was so awkward and cringey. I don't think a hell best fighting nephilim would be finding this issue high on the list. Starks PTSD problems also are very clumsily worked into this book. Don't get me freaking started on Janet, the entitled, whiny brat. Th I don't think I can adequately convey how badly my heart hurts giving this book 3 stars. Lots of issues here. First of all the whole pronoun thing. Don't even come for me. I have a gay kid with transgender friends, but this whole non binary thing was so awkward and cringey. I don't think a hell best fighting nephilim would be finding this issue high on the list. Starks PTSD problems also are very clumsily worked into this book. Don't get me freaking started on Janet, the entitled, whiny brat. They are a hole reason not to ever pick this series up again. For all I care Kadrey could have killed them off. Fuck Hollywood holds a lot of promise, but I'm not sure she can combat my utter hatred for Janet.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    The cover blurb mentions that this is the penultimate book in the Sandman Slim series. This is sad both because it's such a great series and because this is one of the beat books in the series. Sandman Slim is still working on his relationship with Candy, still recovering his humanity, and rediscovering his empathy as he struggles to overcome his years in Hell. He has become a mythic hero over the course of the books. The secondary characters are all present, with a couple of surprises along the The cover blurb mentions that this is the penultimate book in the Sandman Slim series. This is sad both because it's such a great series and because this is one of the beat books in the series. Sandman Slim is still working on his relationship with Candy, still recovering his humanity, and rediscovering his empathy as he struggles to overcome his years in Hell. He has become a mythic hero over the course of the books. The secondary characters are all present, with a couple of surprises along the way. All in all, one of the best mysteries of the series, and a great outing for James Stark. I both dread and can't wait for the final book

  17. 4 out of 5

    David Miles

    I was torn between a 3 and a 4 rating on this one. Stark seems to be gaining a conscience. I liked him better as a complete hard-ass (with an emphasis on the word ASS), but I guess he's evolving...and the story amused me. So 4 it is!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    I wanted to give this 5 stars just because this is Sandman Slim and I was so happy to finally get to read what is happening to Stark after his bout with being dead. Stark's depression seemed out of character for the guy who lived by the code "shoot first, ask questions later". The Janet non-binary thing took up too much page space and became redundant. Overall, her character became annoying especially with Stark mooning over Candy but showing his desire to make things work with Janet to the poin I wanted to give this 5 stars just because this is Sandman Slim and I was so happy to finally get to read what is happening to Stark after his bout with being dead. Stark's depression seemed out of character for the guy who lived by the code "shoot first, ask questions later". The Janet non-binary thing took up too much page space and became redundant. Overall, her character became annoying especially with Stark mooning over Candy but showing his desire to make things work with Janet to the point of doing things he wouldn't have done under normal conditions. Also, a lot of coincidences in this book connecting the dots for Stark to complete the jobs he has taken on. The ending is emotional and I didn't like why but it was written beautifully. I think I could fudge my stars to 4 1/2 just because it is James Stark, but it fell short for me to say it was a full on, no holds barred, Sandman Slim adventure.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marielle Authier

    Expected publication: June 2nd 2020 by Harper Voyager Change to Expected publication: August 25th 2020 by Harper Voyager

  20. 5 out of 5

    Paul Preston

    Sandman Slim, aka James Stark, is back. If you haven’t read the series yet, then you should go get the books and fix that. They are fun. Stark was once a normal human. Now he is a half-angel, former ruler of hell, and all around badass antihero and he is here to save us mortals once again. This time a horde of ghosts invades a section of LA known as Little Cairo and Stark is sent in to figure out what the hell is going on. I enjoyed jumping back in with Stark and his group of misfits. He goes ar Sandman Slim, aka James Stark, is back. If you haven’t read the series yet, then you should go get the books and fix that. They are fun. Stark was once a normal human. Now he is a half-angel, former ruler of hell, and all around badass antihero and he is here to save us mortals once again. This time a horde of ghosts invades a section of LA known as Little Cairo and Stark is sent in to figure out what the hell is going on. I enjoyed jumping back in with Stark and his group of misfits. He goes around pissing everyone off and causing general mayhem while trying to keep the dead and their spirits where they belong.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Didi Chanoch

    I expect many things from a Sandman Slim novel. I expect a clever plot, I expect a great cast of characters, and a mix of the personal and the infernal (and/or divine, and there not being much difference between the two). I got all of those things. I did not expect a Sandman Slim novel to make me cry. And yet, it did.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    First, the obvious.... The attempt at inclusivity felt poorly executed and rushed. It took away a bit from an otherwise enjoyable story. The way the author added backstory and depth to Carlos in prior books is how it should have been done. All of that aside, it's a Sandman Slim book... What's not to like? A tad predictable at this point, but no more so than other series. Overall, I like the direction it is heading.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    It feels like the world is growing again and that the characters are following suit. Nice to see some inclusion in the book as well.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Kart

    Goodbye Stark (almost). See you on the big screen. The ending was wrenching and I liked the Old Hollywood tie-in but felt like Janet was a modern-day Jar Jar.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Paul Rivas

    Full disclosure, I'm a very big Richard Kadrey fan. I liked this latest Sandman Slim book a lot. It flows well, is a smooth and solid story. The way Mr. Kadrey pulls the story lines together, balances new characters, old characters and an recovering Stark makes for an enjoyable read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Keith Miller

    I'll start by saying I liked this chapter in Stark's story but it was hard to come by. Here's why... the plot was super simple, the set-up and pay-off brightly apparent---like Gladius bright, some of the new characters were annoying. Everything you love about Stark is there, the snark, the attitude, the self-loathing disguised as arrogance, and the penchant for violence. There is a attempt at character growth which is needed and kind of funny---Stark on mood enhancement drugs, that's a sitcom on I'll start by saying I liked this chapter in Stark's story but it was hard to come by. Here's why... the plot was super simple, the set-up and pay-off brightly apparent---like Gladius bright, some of the new characters were annoying. Everything you love about Stark is there, the snark, the attitude, the self-loathing disguised as arrogance, and the penchant for violence. There is a attempt at character growth which is needed and kind of funny---Stark on mood enhancement drugs, that's a sitcom on Cinemax. Wait, does Cinemax still exist, I don't know. Kadrey builds interesting worlds and despite his sometimes clunky storytelling you always come back for his voice, his peculiarly crass way of describing the world and others and the use of violence to regulate his idea of social mores--you know, kinda like Hannibal Lector. I've read a few reviews criticizing Kadrey's attempts of "inclusion" with the addition of a non-binary character and the excessive use of pronouns. Some say he was trying too hard or pandering. Others suggest building the character's identity out like Carlos the bartender. I say there is no easy way to introduce new characters, especially developing a character in the context of gender identity. There is no specific way to make an introduction. The character is what they are. That said, I found the character wanting. It was nice to see them used more in the series and developed, I want more depth, guile and spice in the Way of Candy. Perhaps we get it in the next installment. The ending was not strong, it was predictable. But it did not fail. Kadrey ties some loose strings and creates a big-ole dangle of mess for Stark down the line. Will we see Mason again? I hope not, that ship has sailed. Will we get a visit from the Golden Vigil or Wormwood? Meh. Hope not. Wormwood seems interesting but Kadrey seems to have dropped it. More Sub Rosa rivalry? Come on, is anyone gonna fuck with the former Lucifer? Whatever it is, the danger should be more personal and impact James on a deeper level. Bring us back to the guy looking for veagance and a chance to get back to true love. Goddamn, am i asking fr a supernatural John Wick story? Maybe? Prolly not. Just give more texture. Kadrey has us, we're on the bus with him, he can take time play this story out and not have to go LA is burning again on us. But I guess that's what we love--chaos, magic and sarcasm wrapped in a broken heart and sealed with a ballistic kiss. Kevin Smith once said that he'd keep going to the theatres to see Die Hard movies, he'd watch John McClain in a wheelchair chasing terrorist screaming, "Yippee Kayaaaaeeee, Motherfucker!," until his end. I feel the same about Stark. I'd read Sandman Slim slaughtering the sinful while on Prozac nursing a bad back and an arm sling. Problem is, Kevin Smith now hates Bruce Willis and his love is backing away from the franchise. As long as Kadrey keeps with the development and gives us new ideas and reasons to love Stark and his band of merry misfits, I'll keep coming along for the ride. I'd even ride bitch.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amy Braun

    Another slam dunk in this sharp, no-holds-barred, one of a kind series! This instalment carried far more emotional heft than I expected, and I loved it for that! The story was filled with all the noir and twists and mystery we've come to expect from the Sandman Slim novels, but this was a mystery that truly stumped him and cost far more than he could ever image. Especially near the end, with an emotional gut-punch that I had to reread cause I barely believed it happened. There were demons, cults Another slam dunk in this sharp, no-holds-barred, one of a kind series! This instalment carried far more emotional heft than I expected, and I loved it for that! The story was filled with all the noir and twists and mystery we've come to expect from the Sandman Slim novels, but this was a mystery that truly stumped him and cost far more than he could ever image. Especially near the end, with an emotional gut-punch that I had to reread cause I barely believed it happened. There were demons, cults, tricks and traps, and all kind of wild adventures and misadventures. Stark continues to be one of my favourite anti-heroes. He is complex, challenging, and filled with wit. I honestly loved how he coped with the turmoils of his love life, his struggle to find his place, and his ferocity when tragedy struck. He is fantastic! The entire series is a must for anyone who wants to experience dark, gritty urban fantasy, fierce action, and sharp writing. I loved it!

  28. 4 out of 5

    John Walden

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Another solid installment in the saga of Sandman Slim. Stark continues to struggle with regular life and manages to get in over his head yet again. Samael returns with a request to find a wayward angel while the Augur needs help with an infestation of ghosts. Talked into an adrenaline junkie cult where "There's zero chance you'll get out alive" rounds out another hellish couple of weeks for James and the gang. Can Stark piece together the clues and keep his friends alive before his deadlines cru Another solid installment in the saga of Sandman Slim. Stark continues to struggle with regular life and manages to get in over his head yet again. Samael returns with a request to find a wayward angel while the Augur needs help with an infestation of ghosts. Talked into an adrenaline junkie cult where "There's zero chance you'll get out alive" rounds out another hellish couple of weeks for James and the gang. Can Stark piece together the clues and keep his friends alive before his deadlines crush him instead?

  29. 4 out of 5

    Reid Edwards

    Kadrey has done it again - Sandman Slim surely rests (slouchily, uncomfortably and likely with alcohol) among the best protagonists in paranormal fantasy. Within each novel, Kadrey presents the reader with questions and debates about understandings and beliefs in our world, framing them in an enthralling package, and Ballistic Kiss is no different. Stark is forced to examine his understanding of gender identity, religion and personal ethics, allowing the reader to vicariously debate these topics Kadrey has done it again - Sandman Slim surely rests (slouchily, uncomfortably and likely with alcohol) among the best protagonists in paranormal fantasy. Within each novel, Kadrey presents the reader with questions and debates about understandings and beliefs in our world, framing them in an enthralling package, and Ballistic Kiss is no different. Stark is forced to examine his understanding of gender identity, religion and personal ethics, allowing the reader to vicariously debate these topics. His action scenes continue to be excellent, feeling both visceral and authentic, never shying away from placing Stark and his compatriots in real danger. At the same time, Kadrey writes emotion and grief as well, if not better, than any of his contemporaries. He evokes the gnawing despair and background grief that come with repeated exposure to loss with keen acuity. All in all, this is a fantastic entry into the Sandman Slim cannon, and clearly shows Kadrey's growth as an author.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hans

    As usual, an entertaining and quick read/listen (got the audiobook). Sandman Slim is going existential! After the events of the previous books and episodes of being dead, undead and then resurrected, James Stark seems to be back in LA for good. While he is used to fighting monsters, demons, angels and occasionally normal people, he isn't at all prepared for living what counts as a regular life among the supernatural community. He is being treated for PTSD by Allegra, he lives on junkfood and boo As usual, an entertaining and quick read/listen (got the audiobook). Sandman Slim is going existential! After the events of the previous books and episodes of being dead, undead and then resurrected, James Stark seems to be back in LA for good. While he is used to fighting monsters, demons, angels and occasionally normal people, he isn't at all prepared for living what counts as a regular life among the supernatural community. He is being treated for PTSD by Allegra, he lives on junkfood and booze and only ever goes out to grab trashy movies and he doesn't really know where he stands with Candy, who began a relationship with her bandmate Alessa while he was dead and now they are in a kind of uneasy love triangle. Meanwhile Janet, whom he had saved when the city was overrun by zombies, makes advances towards him and he doesn't really know how to deal with that either. Generally, everyday life overwhelms Stark, but for better or worse, his life usually doesn't stay "everyday". In the middle of this existential crisis, he is asked by the Augur of the Subrosa to deal with a violent haunting that has infested a whole city block, pressured into searching for some angel who is probably hiding somewhere in Hollywood by Samael and drawn into some seriously weird cult thing by his new love interest Janet. So there really isn't time for a breather anyway. While Stark is a bit more brooding and self-reflexive, he also can't completely overcome his "f*ck the world and everyone in it" attitude and his inherent angryness, which makes this a wonderfully explosive and action-packed ride that reminded me more of the earlier Sandman Slim novels, before everything was about the war between heaven and hell, purgatory and the other bigtime stuff. "Ballistic Kiss" is more about Stark and his friends than anything else and I really liked that. A few sidenotes: Some people have been complaining about how Janet was introduced as non-binary, not because of the fact itself but because of the clumsy and on-the-nose manner in which Kadrey decided to do it. On the one hand I agree, the chapter in which Janet explains to Stark what being non-binary means and how he is supposed to deal with it feels a bit awkward and like someone was explaining it to a particularly dumb child. On the other hand, remember that Stark is overwhelmed even with such small things as going to a supermarket and doing the shopping for a party. So maybe it makes sense to explain things that a lot of people find completely normal in small words to a guy who has spent most of the last years killing various baddies in an assortment of otherworldly plains of existence, but rarely any time pondering different gender identities or complex relationship matters. Also, I found Stark's behaviour around Janet and his patience with them a bit out of character. Yes, you can tell that he really likes them and also that he's kinda lonely, but when he finds out about who they are involved with I would have expected a harsher reaction along the lines of "are you a f*uckin mad person? What the f*ck is wrong with you?". Considering the things he has seen and done, I wouldn't have expected him to go along with it as long as he did. But since Janet had their own cross to bear in life, I think it's also a matter of Stark as a pretty messed up guy being drawn to people who are similarly broken, hoping that by saving them he can also save a bit of himself. Nevertheless, I find Janet leaves a lot to be desired as a character and their behaviour for most of the book is just outright childish and stupid. Anyway, although this wasn't the strongest Sandman Slim novel, I'm crurious about where this is going in what I understand will be the final book.

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