I continue with my end of year promise to finish several started but unfinished books before beginning anything new. Next up: Devil Said Bang, Sandman Slim #4.
Maybe it was the month or few between starting and picking it back up, but this one seemed to have a lot less action, and a lot more of Stark inside his own head or contemplating his situation or himself. I’m not complaining about this, it just seems a little different from the previous novels in the series. I had about two-thirds of the novel left, and I finished it in an evening. A big focus of this part of the series seems to be Stark getting more human, as in remembering things like empathy, insofar as possible; I’ve seen this comment made elsewhere but I think it’s accurate. The thing I appreciate is that it’s not done in a boring way, as some self-reflection based stories can be. Stark remains himself for the most part, but he now once in a while feels a little something for someone who gets something they may not totally deserve. But he’s still willing to kill pretty much one or anything that gets in his way or causes trouble, now it’s within reason.
As it turns out, the Stark getting back to LA and finding a replacement Lucifer to rule Hell is more of a side plot than anything even though it’s something that bookends the plot and remains a concern throughout. The real plot is Start getting back to his old pals and places, although a few small things have changed, like Candy has a girlfriend now (in the romantic sense- I think, there’s not a lot of info there) but she still is willing to pick back up where she and Stark left off. Carlos and his bar are still the safe zone-ish place, and Father Traven is still around. These two are probably my favorite characters, and I wish there was at least a little more info about how/why the Via Dolorosa thing is now a thing with Traven.
What disappointed me a little was Brigitte’s return, or at least how she was fit into the finale confrontation. I don’t quite get how she factored into that, or why it didn’t seem to matter afterwards. The last thirty pages or so did the expected explain most everything bit, and it was interesting enough to keep some possibilities open for later but conclusive enough that it felt like ‘the end’. I do like that bit in the bar at the end, where things are quasi back to normal where Stark sends her off to another corner of the bar with Father Traven, who has no idea what Brigitte does for a living, to talk movies. It’s so predictable that it doesn’t need to be said, but that’s what makes the idea even funnier. As long as Stark doesn’t go the way of Harry Dresden, that is everything gets so messed up that I don’t like anyone anymore or the worst possible outcome is the predictably correct conclusion, I will continue to follow James Stark and his friends for the several adventures I have yet to get to, and those that are yet to be published.