This is the world the works of Charlie Huston reside in.
In his latest novel, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, Huston once again takes us on a ride into the dirty underside of life. Its the side we all know is there, but few of us have any interest in participating in.
Meet Webster Fillmore Goodhue aka Web, the story’s protagonist. He’s a slacker trying to fend of a serious personal trauma and failing spectacularly. He mooches off his best friend, Chev, and avoids work at all costs.
That is until Web takes a job as a trauma cleaner. What’s a trauma cleaner? They’re the folks that go in after a murder or suicide and clearn up the aftermath. Glamorous? Not so much.
On a routine assignment, Web meets Soledad and that’s when his tenous grasp on control goes completely off the rails.
To reveal many more plot details would ruin some pretty cool surprises. Huston weaves together a piece of classic neo noir set in, of course, Los Angeles. Its not always as glamorous in the City of Angels as we mght believe. Once I started this one, I had no interest in putting it down. Its a smooth, easy read filled with rough, hard characters.
This is Huston’s second stand-alone novel and it is far better than his first, “The Shotgun Rule.” He has a gift for the things he enjoys writing, pulp and noir.
Somewhere around the 2/3 mark, I realized this is a Coen Brothers movie waiting to be made. I certainly hope that is the case, because I think the Coens would do the novel proud.
If you’re a Huston fan already, this is a must read. If you’re not, this is a great introduction to his work and style. If you like pulp and/or noir, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Go pick it up.