Click here to read reviewer Steven Rosen's second take on A Dirty Job.
Not since Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, has this quirky author assembled all the parts that have made his books so engaging: a sardonic and exaggerated look at the badness in the world; taking the terrible evils we encounter - demons, monsters, and in the new one, Mr. D in the big black hooded cloak - and infusing them with human foibles and follies; and just generally creating characters so human and identifiable that we instantly fall into the literary world he's created.
In this one, he has conjured Charlie Asher, a quiet, simple man who "walked the earth like an ant walks on the surface of water, as if the slightest misstep might send him plummeting through the surface to be sucked to the depths below." So does the first sentence, slightly paraphrased, take us into a world of hellhounds, an actual how-to manual called - what else - The Great Big Book of Death, and an honest-to-God Death Merchant named Minty Green.
Moore is hilarious as he unveils the story of Asher - apparently pegged to become the Big Man himself, the awful Mr. Death
- and the demons, harpies, and underground screaming creatures with whom he must battle. There are babies, the death of a wife, skeptical cops, homeless sages, and a whole lot of other fascinating characters to drive you insane with laughter.
After his last outing, a rather pitiful project called The Stupidest Angel, one really had to wonder whether Moore was less. But he has re-established himself as a keen observer of the things that scare us and provided us with wondrous insight about why life may not be quite so terrible.
On the back cover of the book, critics liken him to Vonnegut and Hiaasen and astral hitchiker Douglas Adams. With this almost flawless tale, he erases all comparisons. From now on, they'll be lining up other writers beneath the long shadow of Moore's stories.