Jimmy Stark (magician, real, not Vegas style) can trace his ancestry back to the western days of Wild Bill, which he like to say explains his live for guns, and the past has been on his mind lately especially once he discovers his Alice has been murdered. Did I mention that for the past 11 years he has been living in Hell, he was dragged there by some demons that his “friends” conjured up to take him there, oh and they did this on purpose. He was the only human that had ever entered Hell (or Downtown as Stark calls it), so he was quite an anomaly and sought after as a toy for entertainment. The main entertainment that he supplied was in the area, similar to gladiator days, where he would face hell beast after hell beast and for some reason he kept winning. Taking a trip to hell has given Stark the ability to heal fast and each new scar makes him harder and harder to kill. He even works his way up to being an assassin for one of Lucifer’s generals. But that has all come to an end, as he has escaped Hell, returned LA to take revenge on those who put him in Hell the first place and those who kill Alice. The world has changed a lot in 11 years, there are cell phones, and DVDs and Stark needs to adapt in order to fit in. Stark`s mission is revenge, but there are other powers at play as well, ones that could ruin all human life, and Stark may be able help stop it, but does he care? Nope, revenge is always first on his mind and absolution from God, is not even a close second.
Stark is the bad guy but you root for him like a good guy, I mean who wouldn't want revenge for having to spend 11 years alive in Hell. This book is fast paced, violent, funny, dark and supernatural all rolled into one. I liked the structure and balance that Kadrey displayed between Heaven Hell and Earth, and how Stark just walks through all three without a backward glance. This book really did give a look in at the power structure of both Heaven and Hell, which I had not read in a book before; I think this is where some people may turn up their noses at the book.
Kadrey also did some interesting things with Start as well, first he is not the smartest tool in the box, he does have some funny blonde esk moments (and yes I can make this joke because I am Blonde). Additionally, although Stark has aged 11 years since he was last on Earth, he has some 19-year-old moments, such as falling in love with every punk looking girl he sees. Kardey also introduces some different types of demons, powers, weapons and places, which only added to the story. For example, the Kissi, which are being that thrive on chaos so they try to create as much of it as they can, humans are unable to see them, but they are the things that the whisper crazy ideas into your head.
I read somewhere that this book is written similar to a Noir Film, and I could not agree more. This is definitely on of the best books I have read in 2010.