Sandman Slim’s final adventure

King Bullet brings in Richard Kadrey’s masterpiece for a hell of a landing.

Cory Doctorow
3 min readAug 17, 2021


The cover for KING BULLET.

It’s been more than a decade since Richard Kadrey blew the roof off supernatural horror with his hardboiled SANDMAN SLIM, the tale of an LA magician whose coven sends him to hell, who returns to wreak bloody revenge.

As impressive as that breakout was, Kadrey has only gone from strength to strength, publishing ten more volumes in the series that took James Stark — Sandman Slim’s birth name — through a series of ever-escalating supernatural challenges.

These sequels didn’t just demonstrate Kadrey’s incredible, deep knowledge of esoterica, which he mined relentlessly to fill in a rich, fresh multiverse that blended deep lore with contemporary themes.

They also turned Stark into more than a hardboiled antihero, going to character development places that classic noir never went — Philip Marlowe is the same reactionary asshole in The Big Sleep as he is in Playback.

Though Kadrey’s voice had more in common with Chandler’s bone-dry delivery and spectacular violence, his handling of Stark is closer to the way that MacDonald handled Travis McGee…