A Dirty Job: A Novel
by Christopher Moore
Review by Paul Haggerty
William Morrow Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0060590270
Date: 21 March, 2006 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Charlie Asher is a man who expects bad things to happen to him. Which is why he can't believe that his life has become so wonderful. He has a fabulous wife, a steady business, and he's about to become a father. Which, of course, is when the bottom drops out of his life. After delivering the most perfect baby ever to exist on the planet, Rachel Asher succumbs to rare medical condition. This leaves Charlie a widower, a single father, and an emotional basket case. So bad is his condition that he sees a man standing at his wife's bed. A man no one else can see. A man that insists Charlie shouldn't be able to see him either. To quote: "This is really, really not good."
Charlie has become a Death Merchant, one of a group of people (usually retail merchants) the fates have chosen to collect the souls of the dead when their time comes. To make the job easier, they have the special power of being ignored while on the job. At least they're supposed to be ignored. Then having collected the souls, they store them until the time comes for the soul to pass on to its next life. At which time they sell the soul to its new vessel and the job is done. The system is simple and orderly, and Charlie screws it up royally.
The next thing he knows the forces of darkness are rising and threatening to take over the world and usher in a new age of evil. And apparently only Charlie can stop it. But no pressure, right?
Christopher Moore is a very strange man with a very warped and funny way of viewing the world. Scene after scene drops wry observations on ordinary people and ordinary events that are both hilarious and thought provoking. Similarly, religious concepts are sprinkled throughout the narrative, showing that while many religions apparently have some concept of what's going on, all of them have jumped the tracks at one point or another so that none of them individually have the right answers. At least according to the Moore universe.
I heartily recommend anything written by Christopher Moore. Start with Bloodsucking Fiends, and work your way up to A Dirty Job. You'll be glad you did. Just remember to surface long enough to shower, eat, and pay attention to your family. Sleep is optional.