Aloha from Hell (Sandman Slim Series #3)by Richard Kadrey
“Richard Kadrey is a genius.”
“Sandman Slim is my kind of hero.”
All hail Sandman Slim, author Richard Kadrey’s ultra-extreme anti-hero and recent escapee from Lucifer’s overheated Underworld playground. Legendary author William Gibson (Neuromancer)/em>/p>/p>
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“Richard Kadrey is a genius.”
“Sandman Slim is my kind of hero.”
All hail Sandman Slim, author Richard Kadrey’s ultra-extreme anti-hero and recent escapee from Lucifer’s overheated Underworld playground. Legendary author William Gibson (Neuromancer) called Kadrey’s first deliciously twisted Slim adventure “an addictively satisfying, deeply amusing, dirty-ass masterpiece,” and in number three, Aloha from Hell, the ruthless avenger, a.k.a. Stark, finds himself trapped in the middle of a war between Heaven and Hell. With God on vacation, the Devil nosing around in Paradise, and an insane serial killer doing serious damage on Earth, Stark/Slim is ready to unleash some more adrenaline-surging, edgy and violent supernatural mayhem—and even pay another visit to Hell if necessary—which is great news for fans of Jim Butcher, Warren Ellis, Charlaine Harris, Kim Harrison, and Simon R. Green.
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Aloha from Hell
By Richard Kadrey
HarperCollins PublishersCopyright © 2012 Richard Kadrey
All rights reserved.
"Tell me," says the Frenchman. "How long has it been since you last killed anything?"
He's fucking with me. He knows the answer, but he wants to make me say it. Father Vidocq taking confession.
"I don't know. What time is it?"
"That long, then?"
Vidocq and I are in a very dark room in a very large house full of very fashionable furniture and we're stealing something very valuable. I have no idea what and pretty much don't care. It's just nice to be hanging out and doing some crimes with the old man. Crimes where no one ends up zombie meat, shot, or annoyingly decapitated.
"It's been a while," I say. "Six. Eight weeks. Somewhere around there."
I slipped us into the house through a shadow. Vidocq is working on the wall safe. He's good with safes. He's had over a hundred years of practice.
"So, no crusades? No great wrongs that need to be righted?"
I reach into my pocket for a cigarette, then remember there might be smoke alarms.
"Nothing worth killing for. I'm no cop. The Sub Rosa has their own Mod Squad to deal with the small stuff."
I like watching Vidocq work over a safe. He has hands like a surgeon. Nimble. Precise. He could thread a needle while being shot out of a cannon.
"Incroyable. Perhaps you're reaching something of a rapprochement with your angelic half and it's having a moderating effect on your disposition."
Right. I'm part angel. Half, if you want to get picky about it. It's great. A halo and five bucks will get you a cup of coffee in L.A.
"Maybe. The angel screams at me sometimes, mostly at night when I'm tired and he can ambush me with one of his Give-Peace-a-Chance, no-smoking, veggie-bacon sermons. But he isn't trying to run the show single-handed anymore. We reached a kind of MAD pact the other day."
Vidocq looks at me.
"Mutually Assured Destruction. I told him that if he ever tried to push me out of my brain and turn me into a clean living choirboy again, I'd have to do something, you know, unreasonable."
"I told him I'd get hammered and go through the Room of Thirteen Doors to the Pearly Gates. Then I'd find the Archangel Gabriel and thunderbolt-kick him in the cojones in front of all the other angels."
"Whereupon the other angels would draw their swords and kill you."
"Exactly. Mutually Assured Destruction."
"That sounds much more like the old you."
Technically, I'm what you call a "nephilim." Half human, half angel. And I'm the only one. The others are all dead. Suicides mostly. Some people call my type freaks. If you're one of heaven's lapdogs, you'll probably call me "Abomination." I say, call me either of those things to my face and you'll get to see what your lungs look like as throw pillows.
The angel half of me got shaken loose a while back when a High Plains Drifter—that's "zombie" to you—bit a chunk out of my hand. The human half of me almost died and the angel half thought that was its chance to take over. It was for a while, but then I got my strength back and I locked the angel upstairs in the attic like Joan Crawford in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?". It still bangs on the door and shouts, but I've learned to ignore it most of the time. Some of the time. It depends on the day.
Vidocq goes back to work on the safe. Over his clothes, he's wearing a tailored gray gabardine greatcoat. Looks like his girlfriend Allegra's been dressing him again. He looks like the doorman at a speakeasy in the Kremlin. The greatcoat tinkles gently when he moves, like he's smuggling wind chimes. The sound of the hundred or so little potion bottles he has sewn into the coat's lining. I have my guns, my knife, and na'at. Vidocq has his potions.
"What exactly are we stealing?" I ask.
"A golden brooch or device in the shape of a scarab. It's quite ancient. There is a clockwork mechanism inside. Perhaps it's God's pocket watch."
"He doesn't need a watch. He needs a compass so he can find his own ass."
There's a click and the front of the safe swings open. Vidocq moves his hands in a graceful TV-spokesmodel arc in front of the safe.
"You are the man, Van Damme."
He squints at me.
"Jean-Claude Van Damme is Belgian, not French."
"There's a difference?"
I like how Vidocq pronounces "fuck": "fock."
He whispers, "C'est quoi, ça?"
"No. It's very interesting. The owner of this safe is a very paranoid man. The inside is etched with spells and runes."
"Can you still get the swag?"
He flashes a small LED light around the inside of the safe. "I don't see anything in here that should stop us. They mostly seem to be containment spells. He must have been afraid of this shiny scarab walking away."
He reaches into the safe and pulls out a polished ebony box the size of a cigar box and pushes up the lid. A beautiful gold scarab lies on blood red silk. He hands me the box and begins packing his tools. I slip it into my coat pocket. I say, "I have to admit, it doesn't feel bad, but it feels a little weird not raising a hand in anger this long. I can pretty much just talk humans and Lurkers out of doing stupid shit to each other these days."
"See?" he says from the floor. "By embracing your angelic half, the mere force of your personality is enough to keep the peace."
"I think killing all zombies in the world in one night helps."
"Yes, that could be a factor."
"And Lucifer and the Vigil aren't around paying me to be a hit man rent-boy bitch."
Vidocq scrolls his gear into a leather tool roll and stands up. I ask him, "Are we cool?"
He smiles and says, "As the North Star on Christmas Eve.
But we aren't quite done."
He takes two potion bottles from inside his coat and pours their contents onto the floor where we were standing and on the safe door, trying to shampoo away any magic or forensic dandruff that might lead back to us. When he tosses the contents of a third bottle into the safe, I hear the scratching.
"You heard?" he asks.
"Get out of the way, Eugène."
He doesn't. Vidocq has a scientific mind. Instead of getting out of the way, he looks inside the safe.
It wouldn't be my fault if the back of his stupid French skull blew out like a five-dollar retread, but I pull Vidocq out of the way just before the demon cannonballs out of the safe and hits the far wall.
The demon's carapace gleams like blue-black gun steel. The big bug doesn't have eyes, just two sets of jaws at an angle to each other and two huge hooked front claws. The moment it hits the wall, it starts tunneling through it. That's what this particular type of demon does. It's a digger. A greed demon. It'll protect anything it thinks it owns. Like the contents of a safe. It's why the safe had containment spells on the interior. To keep the demon inside. Smart. Your basic bad guys—us, for instance—will maybe test for eaters, but who's going to worry about a brainless digger until it's excavating the Panama Canal through your intestines?
Vidocq bumps against the desk when I pull him to his feet. The digger freezes and turns. It's blind but it has great hearing. I can slow my heart and breathing, but in a few seconds the demon's going to zero in on Vidocq. I step back from him, leaving him exposed to the digger. He turns and looks at me with wide horrified eyes.
Sorry, man. This is how it has to be.
The digger turns. It has Vidocq's heartbeat. It hooks its two huge digging claws into the wall and uses them to sling-shot forward. A metallic blur, four glittering jaws, and arm size hooks going right for the old man's chest. He doesn't look at it. He never takes his eyes off me.
As the digger's body blurs across the desk, I whip the na'at out. Twist the grip out from the body into a hair-thin serrated whipsaw.
The digger hits the na'at like a meteor with teeth. I twist the na'at's cutting edge into its body and the bug splits in two lengthwise. The halves come apart and smash into the wall on either side of Vidocq, embedding themselves deep into the wood and plaster.
Vidocq swivels his head, checking out the giant insect shanks that flank him.
I say, "What do you know? I do remember how to kill things. Good news for our side."
"Fuck you, boy."
An alarm goes off when a naked fat man kicks open the office door. I'm going to roll the dice and guess he's the home owner. He points an exquisitely made-over-and-under shotgun gun at us. It might even be a Tullio Fabbri. A hundred and seventy-five grand worth of etched steel with a carved walnut stock and accurate as a cruise missile. I'm almost tempted to ask him, but his pupils are dilated and I smell the excitement in his sweat because he thinks he's finally going to get to use that Fort Knox popgun on actual human beings.
Through the angel's senses I hear the infinitesimal scrape of metal over lubricated metal as the fat man applies pressure to the shotgun's trigger. I grab Vidocq in a bear hug and jump through the window just as the gun goes off.
Davy Crockett here isn't Sub Rosa, but he must know some because he has an anti-magic cloak over his house and the grounds outside. What that means is no one's supposed to be able to throw any hoodoo or hexes around here. Whoever built the cloak probably pegged him for a mark right off. I figure they got him to pay a bonus to build it big enough to cover the whole estate, the perfect way to turn a cloak into something as reliable as a marshmallow condom. Antimagic shields are powerful things when you do them right, and part of that's knowing they can only be so big. Blow them up too much and the skin stretches thin. Keep blowing and they can pop right out of existence. That's what Davy the Rube paid for: a one-hundred-thousand-dollar soap bubble.
The cloak is stretched so thin I can throw all kinds of hoodoo in here. Like when we climbed the fence onto the grounds, I could take us into the house through the Room of Thirteen Doors. But I can't get us off the grounds that way. Of course, I could have used some hoodoo to wrap Davy Crockett's shotgun around his neck like a mink stole and swung him around like a carousel pony while I shot the shit out of his office, but I didn't do any of that. Someone else might think that would earn them karma points down the line, but I know better. Karma is just loaded dice on a crooked table. Celestial pricks with wings and halos make the rules and the house always wins. Always.
So Vidocq and I are falling. Tinkling glass falls with us like razor-blade snowflakes.
When you're jumping two floors with a civilian whose broken bones won't heal overnight like your own, you need to remember a couple of things. One, cushion the fall as much as you can, and two, be prepared to use your body as an air bag. That means controlling the fall enough so the other, usually extremely startled, person lands on top of you. Does it hurt? Go outside, get a friend to drop a garbage can full of bacon fat on your chest, and see.
Trying to control a fall is no tea party when you're holding on to someone who's thrashing around like a Tasered octopus. But it's not impossible. The trick is to grab them just under the ribs and squeeze so they can't breathe. Then you let go just as you hit the ground so they breathe out hard when they hit. It helps absorb the shock, though it still hurts. Especially if you're the one on the bottom.
There's a tree below Davy's window. I aim for it, rolling us into the branches, hoping it'll slow our fall a little. It does. Coming down into the hedges helps, too. We still have some momentum to burn off, so I keep rolling and we end up on the lawn that Davy was kind enough to lay out with fresh soft sod in the last few days. Thanks, man. I'll send you a honey-baked ham for Christmas.
I pull Vidocq to his feet and we run for the wall like a couple of spooked raccoons. I look back over my shoulder and Davy is standing in the broken window with the shotgun at his shoulder. Wishful thinking. We're too far away for him to hit anything but the air.
Don't sweat it, Davy. Vidocq and I aren't going to touch your safe or wreck your office again. But I might have to come back some night for that Tullio Fabbri and you can try to shoot me with something else. I am in severe need of some- thing like that. It's so quiet and peaceful out here I'm getting bored with breathing. Maybe we'll get lucky and the world will go to Hell again. Fingers crossed.
Excerpted from Aloha from Hell by Richard Kadrey. Copyright © 2012 by Richard Kadrey. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
New York Times bestselling author Richard Kadrey has published nine novels, including Sandman Slim, Kill the Dead, Aloha from Hell, Devil Said Bang, Kill City Blues, The Getaway God, Killing Pretty, Butcher Bird, and Metrophage, and more than fifty stories. He has been immortalized as an action figure, his short story “Goodbye Houston Street, Goodbye,” was nominated for a British Science Fiction Association Award, and Butcher Bird was nominated for the Prix Elbakin in France. A freelance writer and photographer, he lives in San Francisco, California.
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Not my usual genre, but I dowloaded ""Sandman Slim" on a whim and immediately fell in love. Just finished reading the last in the series, "Aloha From Hell" and am already jonesin' for Stark. Not for the faint of heart or those looking for a fluffy romance novel. These books are dark, intense, very irreverant and profane. But the humor is clever, the hero (or anti-hero, really) is a deeply flawed creature with some amazing redeeming qualities. Kadrey has obviously done some research on the subject about which he writes. You'll find a little mainstream religion, a little Paganism, a little Greek mythology and a smattering of Milton thrown into the mix. It's a roller coaster ride. Just hang on and enjoy the ride.
Lucifer the Fallen Angel has left Hell for Heaven. His abdication fails to eliminate sin as the monotheistic churches claimed it would, but instead leaves behind an even more dangerous power struggle to sit on his former throne. Avenging Nephilim James "Sandman Slim" Stark recently killed Mason Faim the magician who exiled him to Hell where he became Lucifer's bodyguard for over a decade. Mason finds he owes his "friend" for sending him to Hell were he plans his new gig to deploy the faithful on an invasion of Heaven. Kissi the demon encourages Mason to take the war to the enemy as his evil essence has plans to take over regardless of who survives the end of days combat. Stark ponders why God remains on vacation instead of acting to prevent the war that could end the universe. He understands the Lord's free will doctrine, so expecting no divine intervention; he decides to enter Hell on a Heavenly cause; besides which he prays he can bring his murdered girlfriend back with him if he escapes to los Angeles. The third Sandman Slim urban fantasy (see Sandman Slim and Kill the Dead) is a delightful dark humorous noir starring an antihero who will persuade readers that Los Angeles is as hellish of a place as Hell is. The support cast on all sides of the conflict is developed to enhance an exhilarating violently over the top of the Tower of Babel plot. Fans will enjoy Richard Kadrey's latest contrary satirical spin with his fabulous twisting End of Days. Harriet Klausner
What a hilarious wise-ass Columbo/John Constantine cocktail. With a touch of Yosemite Sam. That Stark guy,I'm already quoting him.
Big fun. kinda muddy towards the end but no loose ends. What bothers me is i feel like i know these guys. Don't stop ...mhu
The third installment of Sandman Slim closes a lot of open story threads, coming to what amounts to conclusion of Slim's mission in life. It's violence filled text, filled with exactly the right kind of humor, shoots forward at a breakneck pace. Still, for all that, it falls just a little short of the first novels, like it's trying to close threads, leave a few bits left for further adventure, but manages to sideline any real motivation on the part of Slim beyond "well, we should finish this story out..." Even with that, still a good book worth reading.
Not my favorite book of the series but still a good read
Not a bad tale, but too inconsistent. Also hard to believe that a human would oust Lucifer. Too bad the series has potential.
James aka Sandman Slim is fantastic, not boyfriend material, but a great guy to have in a fight!
A little too much recapping in some asides, which, if you jump into the series here rather than on the first book, is convenient. Some of the travels lag a bit...one or two new characters along the way seem to be underdeveloped...and a part of the climax was a little confusing/vague in the middle of it...but the five stars come in because of monumental scope, real shifts for the main characters, a breezy compelling style, a good balance of tones, and some audacious authorial choices. Being unsure repeatedly of how the hero can win is a big plus throughout the series. A few of the surprises will resonate more if you read from the first book.
Man, I am so glad o found the Sandman Slim series. I think I have BookBub to thank for that discovery. I love the character Lucifer/ Samael. There are a lot of great characters aside from the main character. The stories are great and totally keep my attention. I don't think I have been so excited to keep reading a story in a long time. I also like the sarcastic hardboiled detective angle. I also totally dig all of the real life references the author makes. I really like discovering new songs, authors, events, and generally cool things referenced by the author. I kind of feel like reading Sandman slim is also a scavenger hunt for cool references. I love thai series so much that after reading the 2nd in the series I bought the remaining books in the series just so I could go straight from one book/story to the next. Please, Richard Kadrey, keep making more books/stories in this series. I woild even like to see a few spinoff books delving deeping into slme of the more interesting characters. Thank you for creating such a great and entertaining world!
This is a good series if you like out of the ordinary.
Aloha from Hell is a pretty well written book has a few twist and turns in it but I would have enjoyed it more if it had less "dirty" words in it.