Just finished Richard Kadrey's newest Sandman Slim novel, The Kill Society. The last book ended on a pretty strong cliffhanger with Stark murdered and in the Afterlife as a spirit rather than human trapped like previous. Unforuntately, that means this story is set entirely in the Afterlife, specifically Tenebrae, the limbo for souls unwilling to enter hell. I found this a bit worrying as Kadrey's depiction of the Afterlife, particularly Hell, has always been the weakest part of the series. The book set entirely in Hell is definitely the lowest point of the series. So I was relived to find this worked much better. It's advantage is by setting it in Tenebrae, it avoids the less satisfying elements inherent in the Hell setting. Instead the story reads like more like a post-apocolyptic road trip, which works much better. Stark finds himself roped into a caravan of killers dragging something through the Tenebrae. There are some familiar faces among the caravan, which is led by the charismatic and mysterious Magistrate, so Stark can't just abandon the caravan and strike out on his own. The Magistrate is searching for something and is willing to murder anyone necessary to find it, which obviously puts him at odds with Stark. As expected there are a couple twists along the way and it all ties back into the ongoing subplot about the war taking place in Heaven.
Kadrey has a tendency to introduce story elements and characters from previous books with much explanation or reminder of who they are, which can be a bit bothersome when you haven't refreshed yourself on all the entries of the long running series. This book is particularly egregious about it since it involves an element from a short story that I doubt many people have read. The section feels like set up for a later story so its a bit disappointing to discover its actually just a reference to a previous story. But even with that issue this is one of the better recent books in the series. It's simplicity works to its advantage and the idea that Stark is really and truly dead and can't return to the living world, while obviously not going to stick, is a good one for the character to struggle with. As usually the book ends on an interesting set up for the next one and even if this one feels a bit familiar I'm curious to see where Kadrey goes with it.