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BOOK REVIEW: The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston


“I’m not sure where one should expect to find the bereaved daughter of a wealthy Malibu suicide in need of a trauma cleaner long after midnight, but safe to say a trucker motel down the 405 industrial corridor in Carson was not on my list of likely locales.”

Former grade school teacher Webster Fillmore Goodhue, Web to his friends, has spent the past year relying on the good graces of his friends and generally slacking off. With time, people’s patience begins to wear thin and Chev, Web’s one remaining friend, informs him that his freeloading days are over. Faced with two equally unpleasant options (homelessness or continuing to take money from his embittered Dad), Web grudgingly accepts an offer of employment from a crime scene cleanup crew. One of the first Clean Team jobs is a messy suicide in Malibu; an odd scene that finds Web sponging brain’s from a bathroom mirror while flirting with Soledad, the dead man’s daughter.

When Web receives a late-night plea for help from Soledad, he ends up rushing to her aid even though ever instinct tells him to run fast in the opposite direction. Soon though, Web is the one in need of help when gun-totting cowboys show up at his door. Has Soledad landed him in the middle of her mess or is this really about the brewing war between rival trauma cleaners? Web needs to find out soon if he hopes to avoid becoming just another crime scene requiring cleaning.

I should start with a warning – The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death isn’t a novel for the squeamish or faint of heart. Full of Charlie Huston’s trademark violence, rapid fire dialogue, and unwavering eye for bizarre and grotesque details, this outrageous tale is sure to spawn a new legion of fans all eagerly anticipating a sequel featuring the unforgettable secondary characters. The action begins in the prologue, immediately dropping readers in the midst of outrageous levels of carnage, guts and gore. This is a novel which keeps readers off-kilter but pays dividends for those able to see it through.

If shocking violence, inappropriate language, and detailed gore leave you slightly nauseous, then The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death is definitely not the novel for you. However, if you’re the type who likes your noir served neat, with a side order of hilarity and unforeseen twists, then Huston’s latest will take you on a ride you’ll never forget.

ISBN10: 034550111X
ISBN13: 9780345501110

336 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: January 13, 2009
Author Website:


posted under mystery, Top Picks
One Comment to

“BOOK REVIEW: The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston”

  1. On February 11th, 2009 at 11:38 am Serena Says:

    looks like one I may want to steer clear of with all that violence. Great review…

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