The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death
I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation, smart reviews for modern readers on Sirius XM Book Radio. The book is The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston.
Oh, Charlie. I have been obsessed with this writer since I picked up his neo-noir Already Dead and met Joe Pitt, vampire detective and all around badass. When you open a book by Charlie Huston, there are some givens: there’ll be an urban landscape that throbs, glistens and sometimes bleeds. There’ll be tough guys and shady dames. The dialogue will jump off the page and grab you by the throat. And the hero will be utterly compelled to do the right thing, even if he does it the wrong way. And for everyone, good, bad, or really bad, there’s going to be a price. For Joe Pitt, the price is saving the life of his beloved and fatally ill Evy balanced against the moral tightrope that is his vampiric existence. In The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death and that’s how you do a title, my friends the price is trading a comfortable existence inside your own head for all the messy, bloody, discomfort the world has to offer, plus a side order of facing your awful past. For dessert, get a job.
Before I run this metaphor even further into a ditch, let’s meet Web Goodhue. At the opening of Mystic Arts, he’s working at his friends tattoo parlor no, actually he’s just hanging around, making a general nuisance of himself, while his friend is trying to make a living. Who is this guy? He’s a loser with a smart mouth, why do I want to spend a book with him? Ah, because Charlie Huston invented him, which always means layers upon layers. Web’s layers start to peel back when he gets up off the couch and goes to work for a trauma cleaning service. These are the guys who get the blood out of the wallpaper and off the ceiling after the CSI folks are finished at the murder scene. Turns out getting things clean, getting his own hands clean, is exactly what Web needs. Follow the plot through a Chinatown-like maze involving almonds, a beauty with a dead dad and a brother who you simply must experience, and maybe not all the way down inside Web’s layers but certainly pretty far down, Web’s own trauma, which he needs to clean up in the worst way.
Between Mystic Arts and the final Joe Pitt book which is due in September, it’s been a bloody good year!