A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
Digital Audiobook narrated by Fisher Stevens
Published by William Morrow on March 21, 2006
Series: Grim Reaper #1
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Humor, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Length: 387 pages or 11 hours, 50 minutes
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Charlie Asher is a pretty normal guy with a normal life, married to a bright and pretty woman who actually loves him for his normalcy. They're even about to have their first child. Yes, Charlie's doing okay—until people start dropping dead around him, and everywhere he goes a dark presence whispers to him from under the streets. Charlie Asher, it seems, has been recruited for a new position: as Death.
It's a dirty job, but hey! Somebody's got to do it.
They warned me this wasn’t as good as Lamb, but I didn’t listen.
A Dirty Job has the same humor as I was expecting from Christopher Moore, but the pacing was a little more awkward here, and the jokes were much more abrasive. In this book, Charlie Asher becomes a Death Merchant quite against his own will. Death Merchants aren’t Grim Reapers… they’re more responsible for soul transference. When someone dies, their soul is transferred into a beloved object, and it’s the job of people like Charlie to make sure these ascending souls get into the right hands.
Of course, it’s all a bit complicated when two Hell Hounds show up out of nowhere and your daughter can kill people by pointing and saying “kitty”.
I still appreciate the amount of mythology that goes into his books, but this isn’t strictly a book about spirituality. Moore once again takes inspiration from Eastern spirituality, but the story is much more urban fantasy. What bothers me about this one is the humor.
Which, I’ll admit, is weird, because that’s what I loved about Lamb. Moore dared to push boundaries and it really WORKED. It felt more timely and appropriate in that novel, because the subject was relevant. The anti-semetic jokes and sexist jokes and homosexual jokes feel like pointless jabs. I actually don’t believe that Moore is a racist – I think he’s being very tongue-in-cheek about it all… but they add nothing here and are a bit cringy. It’s exasperating, but because you know it’s not meant, it’s not straight of offensive? It’s hard to explain. But given how many people of all shapes and sizes who are not offended by this stuff, I think it’s not just me.
The characters in this book are all pretty good… although Charlie was a bit exasperating. You know those characters who you don’t personally like, but are written just fine? That’s my relationship with Charlie Asher. I really enjoyed Minty Fresh and Lilly, and little Sophie is a firecracker. The quirkiness of the writing is fantastic (questionable jokes aside) and it’s absolutely a fun listen.
I really loved the San Francisco setting, because I feel like it’s an aspect of a city we don’t see very often. Most city-based books take place in either the elite settings… or in a variety of bars and clubs. A Dirty Job takes place between second-hand shops and residential areas and it just felt… fresh? I liked the setting.
Overall, I’m still here for Christopher Moore’s writing. When it’s not funny, it’s still fun, and stories are just quirky enough to feel akin to Terry Pratchett, which I am always into. Now that my expectations have dropped a little, I think I’m adequately prepared to enjoy the rest of his novels. A Dirty Job has a sequel, and I’ll definitely be adding that to the TBR.
Aside – has anyone seen Dead Like Me? George would definitely appreciate this novel. Or, at least, Mason would. 🙂
How do you feel about Grim Reaper novels? I think this is only the second one I’ve read, but I like it well enough. They’re like contemporary necromancer stories. Throw me some other suggestions in the comments!