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A Dirty Job
Christopher Moore
William Morrow, 387 pages

A Dirty Job
Christopher Moore
Born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1957, Christopher Moore has worked as a roofer, a photographer, a disk jockey, a journalist, a motel clerk and a waiter. At 32, he wrote Practical Demonkeeping (optioned by Disney) followed by Coyote Blue and Bloodsucking Fiends, a love story.

Christopher Moore Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Fluke
SF Site Review: The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove
SF Site Review: Island of the Sequined Love Nun
SF Site Review: Island of the Sequined Love Nun

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Charlene Brusso

If you've read any of Christopher Moore's previous novels, particularly the acidic Lamb, you know the writer as an iconoclast with a deft hand for cutting satire. A Dirty Job maintains that reputation effortlessly. Meet thirty-year-old Charlie Asher, mild-mannered owner of a thrift shop in colorful San Francisco. Charlie's small business pays the bills, and he loves his wife Rachel and the brand new baby girl they've just welcomed into the family. As an average "Beta Male" just trying to get by comfortably in a city known for the unusual, Charlie wouldn't normally stand out from the crowd -- nor would he want to. But fate has something more planned for Charlie, despite his best efforts to avoid it.

Typical new-fatherly worries that his daughter Sophie may have been born with a tail quickly give way to worse reality when his wife dies within hours of giving birth. A man in an outfit of minty green -- was it Death himself? -- may have had something to do with it. Charlie's the only one who saw him, but he has got bigger problems now. He has a newborn daughter to care for, and every now and then he sees weird red auras around random things -- many of which are in his shop -- for no reason he can fathom. The day he sees an eldritch hand come out of the sewer drain to snatch away an umbrella (glowing red) dropped by a man just hit by a bus, Charlie knows he needs to figure out what's really going on. It would've helped if Lily, one of the employees in his store, hadn't scarfed the package addressed to him that contained The Great Big Book of Death.

Along for the journey are some of the funniest, most engaging, characters you could hope to meet: the two wily old ladies who live in Charlie's building, Mrs. Ling and Mrs. Korjev (representing generations of semi-useful old world lore from their respective cultural traditions); his employees, goth-girl Lily (aka: "Darquewillow Elventhing") and serial internet dater Ray Macy; cheerful Sophie and her gigantic hellhound sidekicks, Alvin and Mohammed; and Minty Fresh, the man in green, who introduces Charlie to the wonderful world of being a Death Merchant.

Add an ancient prophecy looming on the apocalyptic horizon, and some deadly Underworlders who'll do anything to gain the advantage, and you've got a book that entertains steadily, alternating Beta Male tribulations and black comedy with jolts of gore and a good bit of stealthy philosophy on life and death and the human condition. What more could you ask for?

Copyright © 2006 Charlene Brusso

Charlene's sixth grade teacher told her she would burn her eyes out before she was 30 if she kept reading and writing so much. Fortunately he was wrong. Her work has also appeared in Aboriginal SF, Amazing Stories, Dark Regions, MZB's Fantasy Magazine, and other genre magazines.

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