I think I say this on every Richard Kadrey review. Richard Kadrey is currently my favorite author and I am ridiculously excited every time he releases a new book. The Wrong Dead Guy is the second in Kadrey’s Another Coop Heist series, built around thief and reluctant Federal Agent, Charley “Coop” Cooper. Like the Sandman Slim series, the Another Coop Heist series is set in an LA where magic is real and the end of the world is nigh. Unlike the Sandman Slim series, Coop is less concerned with the justice of heaven and the plight of the little guy being ground down in the cogs of the universe, and more on surviving those cogs without going back to jail.
Fuck you! You’re acting like I never drove a magic elephant across town before.”
Kadrey blends urban fantasy with L.A. noire – bright, sunshiny, seedy, and populated by losers and weirdos. In The Wrong Dead Guy, we have a dead former agent demoted to running the mailroom in his afterlife, a gang of radical teens intent on friendmanscipating (friend emancipating) beings (animals), a down on her luck former psychic to the stars, the soul of an Egyptologist stuck in a tv, and an Egyptian mummy seeking world domination and learning about the weird world of Japanese game shows. There’s also a magic elephant. Coop’s employer, the Department of Peculiar Science (DoPS), is packed with odd, frightening characters and things.
Of course you guess not,” Vargas said contemptuously. He went to a shelf and took down two boxes. “Now stop this nonsense and put on this astronaut costume. I’m dressing as Frieda Kahlo. That way if the parcel is watching us, it won’t know we are the ones plotting its demise.”
Coop is still a theif, but now he steals for his boss at the DoPS. When a job goes perfectly at the beginning of the book, we know it has all gone horribly wrong. First, it’s a mummy book, so we know there’s going to be a problem with the mummy. Second, they break the wax seals holding the mummy in the sarcophagus. If they had watched season one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, they would know better than to break seals attached to the dead. Those seals are there for a reason.
I have a mummy’s curse on me?”
“I’m afraid so,” said Phil.
“And the mummy has a chauffeur?”
“Probably Netflix and Pizza delivery too.”
“How is this even possible? I’m immune to magic.”
“From what I heard, it’s using old stuff. Prehistoric shit.”
“And that makes a difference?” Said Coop.
“Let me put it this way,” said Phil. “Were you fucked ten minutes ago?”
“Are you fucked now?”
“Then I guess it makes difference.”
The Another Coop Heist series, while very definitely written in Kadrey’s voice and style, would be familiar to fans of Elmore Leonard and Christopher Moore. Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens would find Coop’s LA, it’s denezins, and their banter familiar. Like Moore, Kadrey delights in throwing an ancient being into the modern world and watching them struggle to make sense of it. I think Kadrey is a better and more consistent author than Moore, though I don’t think this series is as good as the Sandman Slim series.
Next to that was There’s no I in teamwork, with a drawing of an ice cream cone holding an ax chasing a bat with a machine gun.
“That one doesn’t even make sense,” Morty said. “Why doesn’t the bat just shoot the ice cream cone?”
“It’s probably a pacifist,” said Coop.
I listened to the audiobook version of The Wrong Dead Guy, narrated by Oliver Wyman. I don’t love Wyman’s narration like I love MacLeod Andrews’ narration of the Sandman Slim series. It’s good, and I really like the way he voices Nelson in manner reminiscent of Michael Keaton as Betelgeuse doing Ray Nicolette. I don’t love his interpretation of Coop. It’s more big lug than I think Coop is.
Yes, Master. What excellent carnage you have wrought.” “Thank you, Slave.”
“What superb havoc.”
“What glorious decimation.”
“That’s enough for now, dog.”
“Yes, Master. But really, good job.”
“All right,” said Harkhuf.
Even a not as good Kadrey is better than most comparable books. Kadrey excels at creating roller coaster rides. If you haven’t read The Everything Box yet, I highly recommend it. And you certainly need to read it before you read The Wrong Dead Guy. Both books would be great summertime reads. I am very excited about the forthcoming 9th installment of the Sandman Slim series, which comes out June 6.