three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
23-July-Aug-2006
user_rating: 
0

A-DirtyJobAs a thrift store owner in San Francisco, Charlie Asher wouldn’t normally be bothered by a strange man in a mint-green suit. But following the birth of his daughter and the death of his wife, the appearance of a man calling himself Minty Fresh in his wife’s hospital room understandably raises some alarm. That Mr. Fresh is pilfering a CD that he claims contains the remnants of Mrs. Asher’s soul is downright spooky. It turns out Minty is a "Death Merchant," a deputy of Death, and he soon enlists Charlie’s help in collecting San Francisco’s lost souls before the forces of darkness gobble them up. With hellhounds tending Charlie’s infant daughter and a goth girl and an ex-cop watching his store, Death Merchants Charlie and Minty hurtle toward a riotous conflict between good and evil.
Morrow. 400 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0060590270

Oregonian 4 of 5 Stars
"The best of Moore’s writing occupies those gray areas where most of us reside. Rather than serve up platitudes or deliver bedtime stories, A Dirty Job offers wit, chaos, subversion, and a chance to flip death the middle finger while we still have the chance." Joe Kurmaskie

Rocky Mountain News 4 of 5 Stars
"The ending is a surprise, but, as in all of Moore’s novels, you can count on some light after all the darkness and, of course, on laughing at a lot of things that just aren’t supposed to be funny." Mark Graham

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Much of the pleasure of Moore’s tale resides not only in the ingeniously unpredictable events but also in the prickly vitality of his language. Striking figures of speech and aphorisms grace the text." Paul Di Filippo

Entertainment Weekly 3 of 5 Stars
"It seems important to mention at the top that Moore is a very funny writer with a terrific knack for dialogue and for bringing together the ordinary and the not-so-much, making the blend seem normal. That said, this story about a man who becomes Death—well, not exactly Death, sort of like an assistant, although that’s not entirely accurate either; let’s just stick with Death—is just a smidge overdone." Whitney Pastorek

New York Times 2.5 of 5 Stars
"He is a writer whose irreverence generates immense reserves of good will, if only for the fearlessly nutty range of his imagination. … For all its tumultuous lunacy, A Dirty Job requires the occasional level-headed individual to provide a semblance of focus." Janet Maslin

Critical Summary

It’s certainly original. Even the harshest critic can’t begrudge Christopher Moore his vivid imagination, satirical plots, and humor. Like a good sleight-of-hand artist, Moore builds up a huge reserve of goodwill to pull off his most demanding trick yet: laughing at death. The already-strained boundaries of his previous work (Lamb, an alternate history of Jesus’s life; Bloodsucking Fiends, a vampire love story; and The Stupidest Angel, concerning the resurrection of Santa Claus) stretch even further to produce this tale that critics praise for its "improbable humor" (New York Times) and courage in "embracing what we fear" (Washington Post).