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

I have read seveal of Charlie’s other books and I would recommend his book Six Bad Things to anyone who has any interest in crime fiction. However, I was not thrilled by his last stand alone novel (The Shotgun Rule). Thus I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked up his latest novel, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death.

What I got was full bore Charlie Huston. I am pretty sure that my affinity for Charlie Huston novels lies somewhere in the fact that they are dialogue heavy and most of the dialogue is either cynical or sarcastic or both. Those are traits I can appreciate and they are present in spades in this book.

The plot involves an unemployed slacker who gets a job as someone who cleans up the remains of dead people from crime scenes. Of course, he gets tangled up with an attractive woman and a smuggling deal gone bad.

The plot, however, is not what makes this book good. Instead, it’s the characters and the dialogue. In his review of the book, Stepehn King said:

There are many things to love about Charlie Huston’s fiction–he’s a brilliant storyteller, and writes the best dialogue since George V. Higgins–but what pushes my personal happy-button is his morbid sense of humor and seemingly effortless ability to create scary/funny bad guys who make Beavis and Butthead look like Rhodes Scholars.

That’s about as accurate of a decription that can be found. Plus, who am I to try to improve upon what Stephen King said.

If pressed, there are two things that I would have to say about this book. First, if you like crime fiction or you like good dialogue, read this book. Second, if curse words make you uncomfortable or excessive violence bothers you, don’t read this book. If you have read any of Huston’s other books, you know what I am talking about. If not, just be warned that his books contain a lot of violence and swearing.

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