I remember when Ralph Hinckley, The Greatest American Hero, discovered a mysterious space-suit with a cape that granted him superhuman powers-- it even came with an instruction manual, which he somehow managed to lose.
Charlie Asher was having a bad day. His wife had just died after giving birth to their daughter, Sophie, and a shocking new development he had just unwittingly gotten himself a new job, Death. And much like Ralph Hinckley, Charlie is missing the instruction manual which is supposed to give some, albeit vague, insight into what his new job entails.
So begins Christopher Moore's latest novel, A Dirty Job. As with Moore's other literary offerings. This book is filled with Moore's quirky humor. From the Russian and Chinese ladies who live in Charlie's building and often babysit Sophie, to the employee's of his second-hand store-- an ex-cop, Ray, who has a bad habit of using the store's computer searching for female companionship from the Philipines and the Ukraine; and Lily, a teenage Goth girl who is frustrated when that boring square, Charlie, gets the all too cool job of being Death-- a job she feels she is much more deserving of. And then, there's a seven foot tall, Minty Fresh, an African-American dressed from head to toe in green, who introduces Charlie to his new job.
Charlie, like many fathers, believes it's important for his child to have a pet for both companionship and to learn some sense of responsibility. The trouble is that from the various fish, hamsters, and even ALMOST getting a kitten. These pets mysteriously wind up dead shortly after Charlie brings them home.
Strange things are afoot in San Francisco-- mysterious dark creatures attacking Charlie, voices coming from the sewer grates that only Charlie can hear, and small "squirrel people" wandering the city in period costumes are among the anomalies.
In addition to Moore's quirky sense of humor, his novels often explore elements of the supernatural, in ways these themes are not traditionally explored. This owes to Moore's exceptional imagination which is second only to his sense of humor when it comes to his positive attributes.
While none of Moore's novels are bad (quite the opposite, they're actually in varying degrees of "good" to "excellent"), some are certainly better than others. While A Dirty Job may not be his best, it is certainly one of his better and has a bit more heart than his other novels have brought to the table.
For those already familiar with Christopher Moore, no encouragement from me is necessary. You already know about the book and are marking off the days on the Calendar until it's April Fool's Day release-- or you were lucky, like me, and were able to get yourselves an advance copy which has already been read. For those not familiar with Moore-- as much as I loved this novel, I wouldn't recommend starting with A Dirty Job. Island of the Sequined Love Nun, Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, or Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal are much better introductions to Moore's quirky and thoroughly enjoyable style of writing.
So folks, brace yourselves for some more Moore! The only way in which Moore is predictable is that he never disappoints-- so come April 1-- RUN don't walk to your nearest bookstore and pick up your copy of this delightful tome!