A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore is a quick, engrossing, macabre and hilarious novel. It is everything that Moore’s next novel, You Suck, is not. A Dirty Job remains original while still drawing on many characters from previous Moore novels. Where You Suck felt like a recycled paint-by-numbers affair, A Dirty Job feels fresh and is brimming with ideas and unique insight.
Moore is a master satirist and combines his satire with blazing creativity and a healthy dose of the absurd. Be forewarned, Moore is not for the easily offended. Nothing is out of bounds and he’ll regularly write the things you might be thinking but would never say.
A Dirty Job follows Charlie Asher, a recent widower with a young baby and a second-hand store to run. If this wasn’t enough, it seems that his wife’s death has changed him – and his daughter Sophie – into agents of … Death. Yes, Charlie is in charge of transferring the souls of the dead to new owners. The ‘soul vessels’ can be anything, from a cane to converse sneakers to breast implants.
Did I mention that The Morrigan – a trio of supernatural ‘sisters’ who take the form of large birds – are after these souls as well?
The battle between The Morrigan and Charlie is what moves the plot along. It’s the action/adventure portion of the novel. Moore does a fantastic job of bringing these creatures (and the Squirrel People) to life in gruesome detail. There’s a clear enthusiasm to these descriptions that makes it easier to read.
Charlie’s self-discovery of what he has become and his trips to retrieve the soul vessels give Moore ample opportunity for his uncensored social commentary. He aims at the natural inclinations of the Beta Male, goth girls, Internet relationships and other Bizarro Seinfeld observations.
Yet, A Dirty Job is more then just a smart action comedy. The main subject matter of death surrounds the novel. Death … is the topic of the novel. So, while you’re chuckling Moore is also telling you about how people come to terms with death. He provides a portrait of what it is like for a family to wait for the impending death of a loved one. There is a hard-edge of pain in the middle of A Dirty Job that Moore seems almost panicked to hide, which is in itself interesting.
Don’t get me wrong, A Dirty Job is not a downer. It’s Christopher Moore for Pete’s sake! So, grab a copy of A Dirty Job and hang on for a roller coaster ride of ‘eww’ inducing action and laugh out loud comedy with a chaser of thoughtful reflection on mortality.