Being Death isn’t as easy as it sounds. Or at least, being a death merchant isn’t all that easy-not that it’s all that hard most of the time either.
It’s a Dirty Job by Christopher Moore is a funny, profane, and occasionally touching book. It’s about a junk dealer who discovers that he has the responsibility of collecting soul vessels and seeing that they find their way to their rightful owners. Along the way has to deal with Sewer Harpies, other Death Merchants, The Emperor of San Fransisco and his foul mouthed Goth shop worker. Oh, and he is a single parent raising a child who can kill people with a single word.
This is a great story, even if it does bear a striking resemblance to Dead Like Me and Reapers. Our hero is an ordinary Joe who finds out one day he has a new job, collecting Soul Vessels-these are items that a Death Merchant can see glow red-apparently the color of a soul. He has a hard time getting the souls once in a while and the Sewer Harpies get a hold of them and suck the life out of them.
The story takes place over a number of years, but it is brisk paced and has a number of laugh out loud moments. The Goth girl who works in the shop wants to be death and is so disappointed that it turns out to be Charlie Asher her soo boring boss. Also working at the Shop is Ray, an ex-cop who thinks Charlie is a serial killer, which is OK, as Charlie thinks the same thing about him.
Sprinkled through out It’s a Dirty Job are such colorful phrases as Fuck Puppets, FuckTard, Asshole, Not in the butt, and Big Like Bear. Ok, the Big Like Bear one is actually kind of cute as a Russian babysitter likes to say it. But there is a lot of swearing, though it is often used in a funny sort of way. Being set in San Fransisco there is also the obligatory lesbian sister and occasional questions about the sexual orientation of this or that character-though it is clear this is done in a Not That It Matters sort of way.
The hero of It’s a Dirty Job is a Beta Male, and there are a lot of tales of the Beta Male as the story moves forward. Among the small nuggets here are such tidbits as the human race would never have survived this long without Beta Males, seeing as the Alpha Males tend to get themselves killed rather a lot of the time. The Beta Male also has a great imagination.
The plot is fun and silly and the big Revelation at the end was only really a shock to our main character, who is more than a bit on the thick side. Might have something to do with being a Beta Male. The book is fun, funny, and I hope it gets turned into a TV series on Showtime.
The best part of the audio book version of It’s Dirty Job is that it is read by Fisher Stevens-best known to me as Garry’s sappy sidekick on Early Edition, which doesn’t even rank a credit on his bio on the back of the book. Fisher Stevens left Early Edition for better things, maybe like reading audio books. At any rate, he is damned good at it. His vocal range is pretty damned impressive and at times damn near amazing. His Sewer Harpies are scratchy and nasty, his Emperor of San Francisco slightly regal, his baby-well just down right annoying-exactly like a real baby. I will now have to look for other books read by the multi-faceted and vocally gifted Fisher Stevens. He is just flat brilliant here.
Of course, having great material like It’s a Dirty Job to work with doesn’t hurt.