Richard Kardey's Sandman Slim wants to be a magic-fueled story of revenge set in a contemporary LA that is equal parts Raymond Chandler and Quentin Tarantino. I'll call it a partial success, but I found my attention flagging, and it could only partly be revived by depictions of brutal violence.
Our titular hero got sent to Hell (while still alive) by his erstwhile magical buddies. He survives Hell, and apparently what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Some years later, he reemerges into the world, more physically and magically badass than before, and ready to take revenge on the guy that sent him Downtown (and killed his one true love). The setting would make for a good game of octaNe, but the novel itself was no better than mediocre - solid airplane fodder.
Tim Powers' slim volume, A Soul in a Bottle, is quite a different animal: graceful & quiet, subtle & enchanting. Where the LA in Sandman Slim was a cardboard set to be destroyed by action sequences, the LA in A Soul in a Bottle is much closer to the LA I recognize and love.
A variant volume of poetry, a mysterious redhead, a fatal argument... just a good story told well in words as well as pictures, as JK Potter contributes some lovely images. Thanks again to stevenkaye for the book.