Given the intricacy and violence of the other two books in the series I’ve read, I was a little surprised at how tame Lucifer actually was in Kill the Dead. I was all ready for some kind of intricate, elaborate super-scheme when the devil hires Stark at the end of Sandman Slim for bodyguard duty. The only thing for most of the novel that Lucifer seemed to be up to was actually supervising his biopic and using that as an excuse to stay away from the potential political trouble in Hell. In terms of story, really all he seemed to be good for was making sure Stark met Brigitte and the Geistwalds. The explanation he gives Stark just before he leaves the story (right before the final zombie confrontation) does fill in some holes for the story and for Stark but it’s still pretty subtle and not all that big-time evil, more like Lucifer had gotten bored and wanted to mess with someone(s). Ok, let’s be honest: I was kind of expecting Tom Ellis’ Lucifer which at the time I read this had been cancelled and not yet saved by Netflix, That’s not what happens here.
There’s still plenty of action and some interesting new characters. Brigitte is probably the most interesting porn star in literature in my limited knowledge, since she does the expected acting and schmoozing, but she’s got a secret that Stark finds out pretty quickly: she’s from a Czech Gypsy clan of zombie hunters/killers. She teaches Stark how to deal with zombies (I didn’t know that there could be different types of zombies, but live and learn I guess) and they partner up for a while to stop the unusual amount of zombie incursions into the mundane world. I was also glad to see Stark and Alice start to make some peace with each other (something I already knew about from book 3 but seeing all that start helped make sense of some things that are said later), and that Allegra gets to participate in things more than in either book 1 or 3.
One of the big problems from book 1, the Golden Vigil and the angel Aelita, were back briefly but that seemed more like secondary plot thread designed to remind you that these characters are still here. It was too bad that most of their mayhem and trouble took place off page this time. I’m guessing this was to try to not take attention from the zombies, but for me it kind of did since I wanted more info. I’m also thinking that this stuff will be coming back and more revealed in later novels, but right now it’s just a tad unsatisfying, especially since Aelita murders someone who knew a lot he hadn’t had a chance to reveal and who had a lot of potential to have an impact on the world of the story.
It might sound like I didn’t like this novel, but overall I did; I just liked novel 3 better. What I liked here was seeing Stark and Allegra both develop more as characters and learn about their new roles in the new-ish to them world. I also really appreciated how something in the very beginning of the novel that seems like a throw-away incident to get action going turns out to be pretty closely related to the main scheme as revealed by Starks conversation with the individual who orchestrated most of the trouble near the end of the story.
Now I just need to find book 4 and try to stay on track in terms of getting the series in the right order. It’s not absolutely crucial since the novels are fairly stand-alone in some ways (at least so far), but personally I’d prefer to stick with the story as it’s supposed to be followed.