1.29.2009

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston

Here is my book review for the newest novel by Charlie Huston, which I just also posted on Library Thing as part of their Early Reviewer program.

This book was disgusting. I wish I was kidding, but it really was just gross. Huston brings us into the seedy underworld of one L.A. slacker, Web Goodhue, and the crappy situations he somehow often gets himself stuck in. Crashing with tattoo artist and friend, Chev, Web coasts through life reading horror magazines, books, and doing his damnedest not to be a working stiff. That is until money becomes a serious problem and Chev pawns him off on Po Sin, a man with an interesting company… Clean Team.

Clean Team is a small company that handles big problems. And that problem is “clean up.” The worst kinds. Crime scene murders, suicides, death and decompositions of all sorts. That’s what they get paid to do. And it is, as you can only imagine, a dirty job. What Web finds out the hard way is that in this horrific niche industry—the competition is fierce.

I found Huston’s newest to be a riot. His laser-sharp dialogue, a fine mix of Elmore Leonard and Chuck Palahniuk, breathes life into what is simply a bunch of low lives. But you can’t help rooting for Web, although he can’t help but screw up over and over again. A touch of L.A. down-and-dirty mixed with excruciating detail of clean-up crew work that would make the average Joe get down on his knees and thank god for his boring existence of a cubicle day job. Just another day in the life for Web. That is until a girl shows up, and ruins everything.
I highly recommend it, especially if you’re looking for one of the rising stars of modern day yet pulpy-good fiction.
P.S. I met Charlie at the first NY Comic Con a few years back, while he was peddling his work, and I left that show with a signed trade paperback of his 2004 novel, Caught Stealing. He was a remarkably cool and laid back guy; it amazes me now the twisted stuff that comes out of that seemingly normal head.

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