Richard Kadrey is back with more metaphysical mischief with his third Jim Stark, alias Sandman Slim novel, "Aloha from Hell." (Harper Voyager, 438 pages)
In this surreal adventure, the nephilim, (half angel/half human, and one hundred percent profane) Sandman Slim tracks down the monster who has slipped a very bad dose of akira (a psychedelic drug) and taken possession of a teen.
While assisting in a very unorthodox exorcism, Sandman discovers that
the demon is the crazed killer Mason, the monster responsible for taking Stark's girlfriend Alice to Hell.
The maniacal Mason is attempting to wage a coup in Hell, deposing Lucifer, with the goal of obliterating Heaven and Hell.
To restore cosmic order, and release his beloved Alice from Hell, the Sandman returns to Hell and confronts the evil Mason.
His escort in Hell is none other than the infamous Jack the Ripper.
The "Sandman Series" is like reading a very drugged Dante or a very messed up Milton. His template for Hell is that of a deranged Los Angeles.
The book lacks chapters which completes this nightmarish vision of eternity.
Yet in the midst of the surreal, there are glimpses of a sharp mind that can expound on everything from the intricacies of the singularity and string theory physics, to life in the bowels of L.A.
In prose that travels from lucidity to lunacy quicker than the speed of light, Kadrey has created the most off-beat hero imaginable, a hard drinking, chain smoking man who complains that "We're just bugs on God's windshield" and delivers this reflection on Genesis:
"You gave us minds and told us not to think. You gave us curiosity and put a booby-trapped tree right in front of us."
For those who like "South Park" but want something far more profane, Richard Kadrey's "Aloha from Hell" and the Sandman Slim novels are the prescription from the Netherworld.