Tuesday, January 6, 2009

LibraryThing Early Reviewers: The Mystic Art Of Erasing All Signs Of Death by Charlie Huston

A fantastic and refreshing noir mystery from Huston, The Mystic Arts Of Erasing All Signs Of Death is the first novel that I have read in a couple of months, where I just don't want to put it down. Neither work, nor pending university finals stopped me from reading this one.

The main character, Web, is not your typical protagonist. After quitting his job teaching and slumming around for a year, his ever patient friend and roommate has finally convinced Web to get a job; working for a crime scene cleanup service. And that's when Web's life gets interesting.

As the story progresses, the reader uncovers the back story behind the Web's personality issues and the reason for his being such a tool to everyone he knows. It's not easy to like the guy, but one does develop some sympathy over time.

Huston writes with such realism that I have not really ever encountered. His character's speech is just so... human. Sentences trail off when the character is at a loss of words. Sentence fragments pepper the narrative when complete thoughts are obviously unneeded. People act like real people (for the most part). My one beef with his writing is the lack of quotation marks, the classical indication for when someone is speaking. Huston only uses a "-" mark to detonate speech. That and the complete lack of "he said", "Gabe muttered", or "So Pin bellowed", to demonstrate who is talking. During conversations, I often found myself going back an re-reading a passage to figure out who is speaking, having to rely on action cues to figure it out. Not so easy when I first started this novel, but as I worked my way through, I became more used to it.

All in all, this a wonderfully quick and entertaining story, filled with intensely evocative scenes and brilliant (if graphic) imagery. I will most definitely be looking to read more of Huston's work soon. (8/10)

"People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like." Abraham Lincoln (in a book review of his own) (1809-1865)

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