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A Dirty Job    by Christopher Moore order for
Dirty Job
by Christopher Moore
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

What a wonderful, wacky, funny story about Beta Male Charlie Asher. In the process of gaining an amazing daughter, he loses his wife. At the same time, he acquires a new job - that of Death Merchant - collecting human souls before the bad guys get them.

As Charlie - whose day job is second-hand store owner - gets with the program of this new claim on his time, it becomes more commonplace. But as the furies of the far side of death catch up to him through the storm sewers of San Francisco, he runs into some pretty extraordinary creatures who vie for the pleasure of hooking him with their venom-spitting talons and eating him - bones and all.

Charlie, who retrieves soul vessels that shine with a red glow, is a lovable, caring man who has a sense of duty that he wishes he didn't have. The job he has taken on - or had thrust upon him - is not to his liking and when it seems as though it might endanger his daughter and friends, he rises to the occasion.

What he does and encounters is too good to miss. The whole book is too good to miss. Christopher Moore spins a wonderful yarn. Fantasy of this kind is not normally in my reading pile, but I wouldn't have missed this one for anything. A Dirty Job is downright fun.

Audiobook Review by Lance Victor Eaton:

Just when beta male Charlie Asher achieves happiness, his life falls apart. Asher only left his wife's side for a few minutes, but that was long enough. When he returned to her hospital bedside, Asher found his wife unconscious and a tall black man in a green outfit rummaging through her stuff. Startled, the man quickly exited, while the stunned Asher came to the realization that after delivering their darling child Sophie, his wife was now dead. Racked with devastation and fear, Asher attempts to pick up the shattered pieces of his life and put it back together.

As he slowly reemerges into everyday life, he notices that not everything is as it seems. Sometimes, he is virtually invisible to everyone around him. Random notes keep showing up in his calendar. Objects keep glowing red as if they were possessed by the devil. To his surprise, Asher learns he is not crazy but rather has become a death merchant. He helps people cross over into the afterlife by taking hold of their soul vessel; an inanimate object that has some meaning to the person passing away. He learns all of this from Mint Green, the man he found in his wife's hospital room.

While death merchants are a dime a dozen in San Francisco, Asher soon learns that he and his daughter Sophie are especially gifted and that their choices will have great ramifications for the rest of the world. The excitement really begins when two demon hounds show up on his front porch and serve as protectors to Sophie.

Christopher Moore's quirky novel has plenty of laughs and exciting moments. The rich cast of characters provide an interesting range of personalities and idiosyncrasies - listeners will find someone to evoke love, hate, laughter, depression and many more emotions. Stevens Fisher perfectly executes the neurotic beta male Asher as well as the rest of this colorful cast. His emphasis during speaking parts leaves no room for confusion and his light demeanor for the narrative portion of the story fits well with this whimsical and humorous tale of death. Though, when Fisher shouts, the sound balancing hasn't been adjusted and so can sometimes be mildly overwhelming. This fault lies more in the editing stage than in Fisher's performance, but the shouts can startle listeners who are not expecting them.

Overall, this audiobook provokes laughter, thoughts, and smiles in listeners. Moore manages to take an often serious topic (death), flip it on its head, and make listeners think differently about just what living is all about. With Fisher providing an excellent audio performance, listening to this book only enhances the experience.

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