Monday, November 26, 2012
Review: The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death
The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Disclosure: This was an Amazon Vine book. I read and reviewed it in 2009.
My Synopsis: Webster Goodhue used to be an elementary-school teacher, until a traumatic event catapulted him into a depression that has left him bumming around behind his tattoo artist friend Chev. However, when Chev tells him the free ride is over and that Web had better take the job that their friend Po Sin has just offered (cleaning up stuff - a rather vague description), Web finds himself in a most unexpected field of work: that of cleaning up the scenes of violent death.
Of course, since Web has a problem with diarrhea of the mouth, at one of the early jobs (suicide of a man with brain cancer) he makes an inappropriate comment, which just happens to be overheard by the man's daughter, Soledad. When he goes to apologize, they end up talking and seem to spark, but soon it is time to leave and no one gets a number.
Later, when Web is watching the shop while Po Sin and Gabe (the other member of their company, Clean Team, who - of course - has a mysterious past), Soledad calls and tells Web that she needs his help - to clean up something. This catapults Web into a situation that ends up way beyond his control.
My Thoughts: This is basically what I can describe about the plot without giving away spoilers. It is described fairly accurately on the book's page - but the one thing I noticed while reading the book is that the overall theme goes beyond the violence, beyond the death scenes being mopped up, beyond even the LA "cowboys" (although they're pretty funny to someone raised by a real cowboy!) - this book is about the evolution of a personality that has been warped by PTSD, about that personality realizing that it needs help and beginning to turn around and face its demons and come back alive. It's an amazing thing and I was very impressed.
I was also impressed (and surprised) while going through my wish list and updating my hard copy thereof to find I have several books by this author on it already - apparently I was already aware of how cool he was. I had just forgotten with my Swiss Cheese memory! So, with renewed enthusiasm, I will be seeking out his other works.
My one complaint: I do have one nit-pick, though. Obviously the author never took any basic mass-communication courses or he would know this very basic spelling error, this very common mistake made by millions of people who are used to doubling the final consonant before adding an "es" to the word - and that mistake is using the word "busses" as the plural for "bus." The reason that this is a mistake is that there is a word "buss" and that word means "a light kiss." The plural of that word is "busses" and this means "many or multiple light kisses." The plural of "bus" is "buses." Now you know. Point and laugh now every time you go by a fast food restaurant that has a sign that says "busses welcome." Point and laugh at "busses only" lanes on the road. Generally have a good time with your new-found knowledge! Oh, and while you are out doing that, buy this book!
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