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THE MYSTIC ARTS OF ERASING ALL SIGNS OF DEATH by Charlie Huston

THE MYSTIC ARTS OF ERASING ALL SIGNS OF DEATH

By Charlie Huston

Pub Date: Jan. 13th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-345-50111-0
Publisher: Ballantine

A troubled young man tries to redeem his life.

Web Goodhue is running out of fans. His best friend Chev, who’s fed and housed him uncomplainingly, finally gives him an ultimatum: Shape up or get lost. Perhaps it’s the shock of an endangered friendship that catapults Web toward epiphany. He begins to understand that trauma, however real and painful, can’t forever excuse parasitic behavior. So he gets a job, and an unlikely job it is. Webster Goodhue, former dedicated high-school teacher, is now a crime-scene cleaner-upper. As the newest member of Team Clean, his role is to scrub away the messy and invariably gore-drenched aftermath of violent death. Oddly enough, he finds the work satisfying—an encouraging sign that he’s on his way to becoming “a kind of a grown-up.” True, he encounters unimagined downsides, from severe beatings administered by rancorous rivals (crime-scene cleaning, it turns out, is a growth industry that’s fiercely competitive) to a near-death experience at the hands of some no-goods convinced he stands between them and a cherished get-rich scam. As for the upsides, there’s the lovely, sexy Soledad, who may have an unexpected downside as well.

Violent and uncomfortably graphic at times, but the dialogue is sharp and funny, and Huston (The Shotgun Rule, 2007, etc.), as always, does it his way.