It’s time again for my regular column over at Romancing the Blog. Check it out!
Bizarre. That’s the word I would use to describe this book. It’s about Charlie Asher, a so-called “Beta Male.” Like all Beta Males, Charlie is a sweet, shy, somewhat awkward guy who worries more than he should. Charlie is the sort of guy who only eats yellow mustard. It’s plenty spicy and dangerous enough for him. That’s how Moore describes Charlie. Seriously.
When Charlie’s wife dies, he becomes a “Death Merchant,” a sort of deputy to Death who collects soul vessels from people who have died and keeps them out of the hands of the sewer harpies (nasty things that want to take over the world). And it goes on from there, with Charlie having one misadventure after another as a Death Merchant while trying to raise his infant daughter by himself.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started A Dirty Job, and I don’t quite know how to describe it without spoiling the whole book. I suppose the best thing to say is that Moore is like Terry Pratchett — on drugs.
The book starts out pretty slowly, but picks up speed after Charlie realizes what he’s become. One thing that bothered me was the lack of a timeline. It seems like whole months and years pass in the space of a few chapters. The only way I could tell how long Charlie had been a Death Merchant was by keeping track of how old his daughter was.
The book really falls apart in the third act, which goes from bizarre to just crazy and rather icky in places. It’s like Moore felt he had to go even farther over the top than he already had. Speaking as someone who writes over the top, it was a little too much for even me to swallow. He also throws in a character at the very end that I don’t think he really needed.
I enjoyed Moore’s breezy writing style, and he really knows how to describe characters and settings in fun, original ways (like the mustard description). There’s a great bit near the end where he describes a car (I think it’s a Cadillac) as a death machine. Priceless.
But the book really didn’t satisfy me in the end because the big showdown was so ridiculous and drawn out.
So, no thumbs up, thumbs down. I have to give A Dirty Job a split decision just because I don’t know if I would read another book by Moore after this one.
Up next: Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman.
Finished Shadow Touch by Marjorie M. Liu. It’s the second book in her popular Dirk & Steele series — about a detective agency whose members all have paranormal talents, like telekinesis and shapeshifting.
I read the first book in this series, Tiger Eye, a while back. I remember enjoying it well enough, but not being blown away by it. Then again, I’ve never really been fond of genie stories, which is sort of what that book was. (I say sort of because to describe it fully would make this post way too long.) Anyway, I thought I might pick up another D&S book someday.
I’m glad I did.
Shadow Touch focuses on Artur Loginov, a D&S operative who can absorb people’s memories with just a touch. He’s kidnapped, along with healer Elena Baxter, by The Consortium, a shadowy group who wants to exploit the couple. The Consortium plans to unlock the D&S secrets in Artur’s head and have Elena heal their leader. Oh, and they want to take over the Russian mafia too.
There’s a lot going on in this book, but Liu balances it all quite nicely. Shadow Touch is an excellent blend of romance, fantasy, and action. Liu’s writing is descriptive and beautiful, and the developing relationship between Artur and Elena is realistic and powerful. I can see why the book was nominated for a RITA award. It’s one of the most interesting books I’ve read this year, and I can see why people are buzzing about Liu.
My only quibble is that the internal, mind-to-mind communication between Artur and Elena got a bit hard to follow at times, even with the italics to set it apart from spoken dialogue. The end is also a bit confusing if you haven’t read Tiger Eye, as The Consortium’s connection to D&S is revealed. I couldn’t recall all the details Liu was referencing from that book in this one.
Still, a big thumbs up.
Up next: A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore.
What about you? What have you read lately? Inquiring minds want to know …
If you’ve read my blog, then you know of my love for Veronica Mars, which sadly got the official axe from the CW this week. Sniffle.
I think it goes without saying that this would be awesome! Here’s the link to the story he’s talking about in the Star.
DC Comics, are you paying attention? Everyone knows that the Buffy comic has been a huge success for Dark Horse. I imagine that Veronica Mars would be the same, since it has that same sort of rabid, loyal fanbase.
I don’t know how TV viewing numbers translate to comic sales, but I imagine that if just half the VM fans (let’s say an even 1 million folks) bought a comic, then it would be a runaway hit.
Hey, if I sold a million books, I’d be dancing on the moon.
In other VM news, I won a copy of a book of essays on VM called Neptune Noir as part of a contest over at Diana Peterfreund’s blog. She’s another VM fan. I haven’t read the book yet, but its very existence makes my inner fangirl shriek with glee. I’m sure it will be most excellent. I’ll do a review after I’ve read it.
What about you? Would you buy a VM comic book? Inquiring minds want to know …
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