Industrial-Sized Deals BOTMKT15 Shop Women's Fall Denim Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Noah Gunderson The Next Storm Fire TV Stick Subscribe & Save Find the Best Purina Pro Plan for Your Pet Shop Popular Services Home Theater Setup Plumbing Services Assembly Services Shop all furious7 furious7 furious7  Amazon Echo Fire HD 6 Kindle Voyage Assassin's Creed Syndicate Shop Back to School with Amazon Back to School with Amazon Outdoor Recreation Deal of the Day

Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

94 of 109 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 1, 2009
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you've read Amazon's description and are still thinking of reading the book, then I'll tell you a few things the description didn't make 100% clear. If you remove the violence, gore, sex, and bad language you are left with a very short story. If this bothers you, quickly move your mouse and click on another book.

If you are still reading, then you need to know a little more about this book. You will be dragged into a world of people you never want to meet who do things you never want to know about. Along the way, you will be disturbed when you realize you actually like some of the characters and really disturbed by the scenes that brought a smile to your face (when no one was looking, of course).

If you like being shocked or grossed-out and amused at the same time, I cannot think of another book that fits the bill better than this. The ending even leaves the door open for more of the same.
33 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 12, 2009
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have read and reviewed all of Charlie Huston's novels and rated them all 5 stars (I think). "The Mystic Arts Of Erasing All Signs Of Death" was a less compelling read and presents a more difficult review for me.

As is often the case in a Charlie Huston production, there is a feckless antihero, Webster Goodhue, who is sponging off his lifelong friend Chev until told to get his act together or get out. He goes to work for Po Sin's "Clean Team", a post-death scrub and trauma cleanup team which also happens to be in a competition and war with another cleanup squad for territory and "turf". This gruesome profession, clearly hidden from the public consciousness, leads to some funny dark moments but that aspect soon proves short-lived.

Web soon finds himself caught up in a whirlpool of criminal activity that he seems powerless to control. He finds himself unwittingly involved in a high stakes highjacking and smuggling game that ultimately leaves a trail of corpses strung across the seedy underside of Los Angeles and its environs. There are outrageous supporting characters ranging from the truly inventive to the textbook stereotypes and, of course, there are double crosses galore. Web develops a conflicted love interest while dealing with a back story of an even more deeply conflicted relationship with his father.

All the elements of Huston's unique noirish style are present in this novel but they never seem to come together in a meaningful whole for me.
The novel is dark, gruesome, humorous at times, and propelled by gritty realistic dialogue. But the plot meanders pointlessly at times and doesn't pick up true focus until the second half of the book.

Most significantly for this reader was the fact that I never came to care one whit about any of the characters...there was nothing particularly endearing, redeeming, or alluring about the protagonist or any of the supporting characters. Putting the book down after finishing it was an "0h-it's-finished-finally" experience...I came away with no attachments for the characters and no desire to ever read about any of them again.

I will, however, recommend this work to Charlie Huston fans because, as I said earlier, it contains all the elements of the signature uniqueness that defines his work in the sub genre he seems to increasingly dominate. Even a mediocre Huston novel is a work of interest to many.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
22 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I can't say that I am completely disappointed in Charlie Huston's latest book, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, but I can't say I enjoyed it, either.

Per typical Huston books, the characters are interesting and the dialogue is witty, sharp, and gritty. However, in this book, it was almost over the top and at times I was discouraged. The premise of the book is somewhat interesting, with cleaning up deaths, and opens the door for tremendous potential knowing the author is famous for noir based stories. Disappointingly enough, the plot stops there and nothing is advanced in terms of plot for the first half of the book. The first half of the book is just back and forth banter between the angry main character and the people he encounters.

When the plot does start to advance, it is not very interesting and hardly engaging. So much potential is squandered with the premise of this book. I would typically say "pass" on this book, but the dialogue and characters, while almost annoyingly "over the top," are redeeming in their own right. Fans of Huston will probably enjoy this book.

J.Stoner
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
When I first finished The Mystic Art of Erasing All Signs of Death--the first Charlie Huston book I ever read--the first thing I did was check out the Amazon reviews. Upon closing the book, I knew this was going to be one of those tomes that would divide both casual and hardcore readers alike. The reason for this isn't necessarily the content or the plot--a fun, foul-mouthed story about a disgruntled slacker with a past who finds himself working for a cleaning company that specializes in post-mortem pick-up--but the way the story is told.

The story of Huston's main character, a slacker/mooch by the name of Webb, starts off essentially in the middle of the novel, a common yet effective technique that this story takes full advantage of. Immediately, readers get a crash course about Webb through his terse, humorous and, most importantly, realistic way of speaking. We also get a feel for the nature of the story, as the mouthy yet malleable main character is being forced into a situation he doesn't understand that leaves him awkward and out of place. From the get go, readers will realize that they just began a fairly standard "anti-hero who's accidentally gotten himself in way over his head" kind of story that is packaged in profanity-filled newspaper as opposed to shiny wrapping paper. It's in the beginning chapter, readers will notice, that the narrative takes an interesting and unique approach: much of the story is told through the exchange of dialogue. While Webb offers up some first-person narrative throughout the story, much of the action is picked up between lines of dialog, a technique that, to me, seemed equal parts clever and gimmicky.

This brings me back to my main point: I have a feeling that Huston's very storytelling may alienate some readers. It certainly had me a little annoyed at first, and I am by no means a "conservative" reader. Readers will notice a complete lack of quotation marks in the dialog--something it seems Huston does as a way of transforming the conversations into narrative--and may be put off. Accordingly, some readers may find themselves missing out on some of the more traditional storytelling methods--I, for one, felt a slightly short changed by Huston taking short cuts around giving more visceral descriptions of what his characters were feeling and seeing.

All that said, does this unique storytelling hurt the story? Not necessarily. While jarring, I found this method to work with Webb, who himself is no stranger to talking his way out of traditional situations. So for this particular story and this particular character, Huston's method works, although I'd be curious to see how it'd translate to other characters.

As for the story itself, Huston shows off a mastery of developing oddball yet somehow realistic situations and characters. As mentioned earlier, Webb finds himself forced to work for "The Clean Team" a company that cleans up after murder scenes. During this time, Webb gets caught up in turf wars between not only rival cleaning crews, but also redneck mobsters and wannabe Hollywood producers. Already dealing with wounds from a past tragedy, Webb jerks his way through these tribulations, trying to use his warped brain to think his way out of the situations his big mouth essentially started for him. The supporting cast consist of characters every bit as vivid and realistic as Webb, each one taking a minute or two to shine in their own way throughout the book. The story itself is fun, brisk and humorous, but also delivers enough meat to satisfy most readers.

Overall, I highly recommend The Mystic Art of Erasing All Signs of Death. Despite the unconventional approach to telling the story, Huston has created an entertaining work of fiction that stands proudly on it's own set of standards and merits--something most mainstream fiction writers couldn't do with an instruction manual.

Michael P. Ferrari
Author, Assault on the Senses
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
"I'm not looking for f-ing enlightenment, I'm looking to turn my f-ing brain off for a couple of hours."

So says Web Goodhue, in retort to his estranged father regarding his current reading choices as they engage in acid laced exchanges of pleasantries. With that missive the aimless, manipulative anti -hero also posits the most accurate assessment of my motivation to read this latest Huston work.

For the reader seeking some noirish escapist fiction, it also happens to be a pretty good read, at least up to the point the plot gets in the way. Most of the major characters, universally unlikeable unless you gravitate towards prickly personas, may be a little too quick on the comeback and there is no shortage of obscenities. However the first half of the book is mesmerizing as the author described the crime scene clean up sites in imagery so vivid, you may find yourself reaching for a pair of rubber gloves and some disposable coveralls. Much of the first half is also suffused with humor, naturally, inculcated in the dark side of life's underbelly.

Unfortunately, the energy generated in the earlier portions comes to a grinding halt once the absurdist plot is brought to the fore. Beyond typical questions of believability, interest in any of the characters begins to wane as the course of progression Huston chose obliges reactivation of the brain and in this instance it's not a positive action for ongoing appreciation of his work.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 9, 2009
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I enjoyed the first hundred pages or so of this book and then the writing style just got too unmanageable for me to enjoy the rest of the book. Web is a deadbeat roommate who is told by his roommate to get a job to pay him back for a broken phone. Web starts working for a "clean-up" service that cleans premises after someone dies at those premises. He works with an unsavory character named Gabe. It was pretty interesting at this point and we get to meet Web's mysterious father enters the scene with advice to read a good book starting with Anna Karenina. Then the book starts to lose it. A woman named Soledad who Web joked with while cleaning the remains of her father, calls him up and gets him involved in something shady. Also, his partner Gabe starts forcing Web to do illegal activities. This is the point where the plot got annoying and the writing style just got to me. It took immense concentration and the need to re-read sections to figure out who is talking and what is happening.

The author uses a "hyphen" method to quote someone talking without letting you know who is talking and does not really differentiate narrative from character thoughts. This really made it quite difficult to give the book higher marks.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2009
I wish I could write that I enjoyed this new stand-alone novel as much as I liked the Hank Thompson trilogy, but sadly I can't. A few reasons:

1. Yeah, Joe Pitt did some nasty things in his three novels, but it was always to protect his parents. From the outset, you knew he was a decent guy who did bad things only defensively. By the time I figured out Web's motivations in the new book, his personality had turned me off completely. I didn't care why he acted the way he did; he just irritated me, and I found it impossible to get past that impression.

2. Huston's unique style of dialogue felt fresh and true-to-life in previous reads. Here if felt forced. I didn't buy it.

3. The secondary characters were a mixed bag. The roommate and his new girlfriend felt real, but Soledad and her obnoxious poser half-brother Jaime turned me off. Especially Jaime. He had unintended comic moments, but they were too far between for me to find him anything other than unappealing.

4. The story itself simply wasn't that interesting. If I hadn't read some previous works by Huston, I doubt I would've invested the time in finishing.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2010
If you enjoy:
-Sarcasm.
-Los Angeles Lifestyle Humor (poking fun at the peculiarities of native Angelinos)
-Mystery
-Well used foul language
-Captivating Characters
-Engrossing plot
-Complex family dynamic
-Sick and twisted humor
-Potty jokes taken to the next level
-Black Humor

Then you will love this book... and want the next from the author sooner not later.

If you enjoy the character Serge Storms or any Christopher Moore books, this is for you
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There are some books that are just so good that they blow you away with their prose. And then there are fun books that you read to pass the time. This is both of them. As much as this book is a potboiler, there's some deeper issues underneath the havoc.

The first thing you notice about Web is that he's a jerk. He is one of those guys that comes off as a funny jerk at first but the more you hang out with him, the more you realize that the funny is really a mask for some deep seated bitterness and hostility that you are never going to deal with. Thankfully, he is not just a jerk for jerkiness sake, although it is brave to have such an unlikeable main character front and center and telling the story. Since this is one of those noir books where the protagonist gets beat up a lot, it's kind of nice when you want him to get hit. There is a tragic past that keeps him from riding the bus and keeps his one friend from utterly abandoning him (even though he's losing the guy business and costing him money).

The plot doesn't kick in for about 100 pages (that's the prologue with the "special project") but instead the book establishes Web as a loser and his new boss Po Sin as a professional who makes certain that death scenes - suicides, homicides, shut-ins - are clean after the police have taken their pictures and removed the bodies. The attention to detail in these establishing montages is amazing and it almost makes you want to quit your accounting job and go into death maintenance (or is that just me).

Anyhow, the plot kicks in when a client asks for a special job that involves harassment, kidnapping and hijacking. It's a pretty good plot but it's not terribly original. Still, by this time you've already been taken in by the main character and the job of cleaning up after dead people that it doesn't matter that it's a little pedestrian when it comes to the bad guys.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 29, 2009
"Some of your brain, in order to keep you focused on things it needs you to do, like breathing and eating and such, builds little facades to place over the surface of the world ... And because that's what you perceive, the hyper reality you inhabit, it's the behavior of everyone around you that seems out of sync ...But some part of your brain knows it's a fake ... The gap between those two parts of the brain is dark and deep. Narrow, but wide enough by some inches to fall into and be lost." - Web, in THE MYSTIC ARTS OF ERASING ALL SIGNS OF DEATH

Herein, Webster Fillmore Goodhue is a former elementary school teacher who dropped out after a gruesome experience aboard a school bus. Now, he crashes in an apartment with friend Chev and works in the latter's tattoo parlor sweeping the floor and running errands. When desperate for cash, Web usually hits on his divorced parents. Wishing to contribute more towards communal living expenses, Web signs on with a specialized cleaning company that mops up the messy remains after the cops have left scenes of murder and suicide. It's a surreal, yucky job, but somebody has to do it, and, as Web soon finds out, the competition between such cleaning companies is cutthroat.

As a literary "hero", Web does provide the reader with an edgy personality and cheeky dialogue. However, as an individual, he isn't a young man you'd want your daughter to bring home to meet Mom and the Old Man; he has unresolved issues. And the presence of any Englishmen aside, Web is akin to one of those perhaps mad dogs out in the midday sun on whom it's prudent to keep a wary eye.

THE MYSTIC ARTS OF ERASING ALL SIGNS OF DEATH is worth four stars just for the dysfunctionality of the protagonist and the oddity of certain plot elements. However, the story is pretty much a one-off. I can't see author Charlie Huston giving Webster his own series as the novelty and appeal would, at least for me, drop off precipitously with second and subsequent helpings.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
Caught Stealing: A Novel
Caught Stealing: A Novel by Charlie Huston (Paperback - May 31, 2005)
$10.82

The Shotgun Rule: A Novel
The Shotgun Rule: A Novel by Charlie Huston (Paperback - January 13, 2009)
$10.80

A Dangerous Man: A Novel
A Dangerous Man: A Novel by Charlie Huston (Paperback - September 19, 2006)
$11.31
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.