The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death: A Novel
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Random House Publishing Group 2009
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APA Citation (style guide)

Huston, C. (2009). The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death: A Novel. Random House Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Huston, Charlie. 2009. The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death: A Novel. Random House Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Huston, Charlie, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death: A Novel. Random House Publishing Group, 2009.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Huston, Charlie. The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death: A Novel. Random House Publishing Group, 2009. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Grouped Work IDd227f8b6-f9ba-4a2f-0998-fb028bdaf432
Full titlemystic arts of erasing all signs of death
Authorhuston charlie
Grouping Categorybook
Last Update2020-03-18 16:34:27PM
Last Indexed2020-03-25 11:07:00AM

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First LoadedMar 3, 2020
Last UsedMar 27, 2020
Date Added:
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Date Updated:
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      • value: crime fiction
      • value: crime thriller
      • value: Humor
      • value: Mystery and Suspense
      • value: Los Angeles
      • value: suspense thriller
      • value: Fiction
      • value: crime
      • value: California
      • value: Thrillers
      • value: American
      • value: Death
      • value: suspense
      • value: Suicide
      • value: mystery
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      • role: Author
      • fileAs: Huston, Charlie
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        Charlie Huston is the author of The Shotgun Rule, the Henry Thompson trilogy: Caught Stealing, Six Bad Things (an Edgar Award nominee), and A Dangerous Man, and the Joe Pitt novels: Already Dead, No Dominion, Half the Blood of Brooklyn, and Every Last Drop. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, the actress Virginia Louise Smith.

      • name: Charlie Huston
Ballantine Books
The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death

With his teaching career derailed by tragedy and his slacker days numbered, Webster Fillmore Goodhue makes an unlikely move and joins Clean Team, charged with tidying up L.A.'s grisly crime scenes. For Web, it's a steady gig, and he soon finds himself sponging a Malibu suicide's brains from a bathroom mirror and flirting with the man's bereaved and beautiful daughter.

Then things get weird: The dead man's daughter asks a favor. Every cell in Web's brain tells him to turn her down, but something makes him hit the Harbor Freeway at midnight to help her however he can. Soon enough it's Web who needs the help when gun-toting California cowboys start showing up on his doorstep. What's the deal? Is it something to do with what he cleaned up in that motel room in Carson? Or is it all about the brewing war between rival trauma cleaners? Web doesn't have a clue, but he'll need to get one if he's going to keep from getting his face kicked in. Again. And again. And again.

      • premium: False
      • source: Stephen King
      • content: "There are many things to love about Charlie Huston's fiction–he's a brilliant storyteller, and writes the best dialogue since George V. Higgins–but what pushes my personal happy-button is his morbid sense of humor and seemingly effortless ability to create scary/funny bad guys who make Beavis and Butthead look like Rhodes Scholars. [Charlie Huston has] written several very good books, but this is the first authentically great one, a runaway freight that feels like a combination of William Burroughs and James Ellroy. Mystic Arts is, however, fiercely original–very much its own thing."
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Times
      • content: "Smoking-hot... scorchingly good dialogue and banner-worthy chapter headings (like "Till His Neighbors Smelled Him" and "To Keep Him From Crushing My Spine."). And Mr. Huston, whose own brain matter is as much on display as the stuff that gets spattered here, finally delivers a book that anyone can admire. No strong stomach required."
      • premium: False
      • source: Washington Post
      • content: "Huston has outdone himself by introducing disaster-prone Web Goodhue, the star of a comic masterpiece called The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death...Charlie Huston has for several years been one of the best-kept secrets in American fiction; this novel might move him into the mainstream. If you believe that the world is mad–a position that with each passing day becomes easier to accept–The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death will provide welcome support for your view. The novel had me laughing out loud many times, but of course, like all the best comic fiction (Catch-22 and Portnoy's Complaint come to mind), at bottom it is deadly serious. Life is violent, messy and all too short, and laughter is the best revenge."
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Times Book Review
      • content: "Just when you think you've caught up with him on the curve, Charlie Huston drives right off the cliff, landing on a road no one else could see...Shockingly original...The outlandish characters are brazen originals, and the dialogue is the roar of a death-defying talent."
      • premium: False
      • source:
      • content: "A witty and amusing dark tale of friendship and family and all the problems that come with both. Web is a likeable character in spite of his personality disorder, one that the reader wants to see come out on top, which makes the book that much more fun to read."
      • premium: False
      • source:
      • content: "Though most of the characters have all the noir subtlety of Sin City, this hard-shelled novel has a soft, sweet centre. Searching for a measure of healing and to repair the damage done them by their parents and the world, the good characters struggle toward redemption. [Huston] has found a way to cast a whole new generation into the noir genre and that can only be a good thing for its future."
      • premium: False
      • source: Denver Post
      • content: "Genre writers too often set the hook quickly and hard, glossing over the subtleties of character in their haste to reel in the reader, ultimately using plot as a club. Not so Huston...The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death is as darkly funny as it is graceful, not necessarily what you'd expect given that it's a novel about a guy whose livelihood involves mopping up blood and bone fragments...If one tends to find humor in unlikely places, Huston has created a work that is sly, twisted and surprising–one well worth the investment of time."
      • premium: False
      • source: Pittsburgh Tribune
      • content: "Huston's novels are among the most imaginative and compelling in the mystery and thriller genres...In The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, Huston finds pathos and the sublime in a story about an occupation for which there is no training or career path."
      • premium: False
      • source: Cleveland Plain Dealer
      • content: "It's a pretty neat trick to avert your eyes while you read, but The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston is so fresh, funny and original that I managed ...The characters range from the slightly odd to the bizarre-doesn't-even-begin. You might feel ashamed of yourself for laughing, but I won't tell. Just take a bath afterward, and remember to scrub out the tub."
      • premium: False
      • source: Dallas Morning News
      • content: "Hilarious, with the comedy getting darker and funnier as Web falls ever deeper into an intri
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from November 10, 2008
        Noir master Huston (The Shotgun Rule
        ) should win himself a whole new audience with this bizarre and utterly grotesque stand-alone, told mostly through dialogue that highlights the author’s uncanny ear for the spoken word. Former Los Angeles grade school teacher Web Goodhue, now a full-time slacker suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, falls into a job on a crime scene cleanup crew, scrubbing up the remains of the recently deceased. After the crew has finished cleaning up a messy suicide scene in Malibu, Web gets a phone call from the dead man’s daughter, Soledad. She and her thug half-brother have another big mess on their hands that needs cleaning, on the QT. Unable to resist the beautiful Soledad, Web soon finds himself in way over his head. Huston, one of his generation’s finest and hippest talents, shows in grisly detail what cleaning up after the dead entails. This one should appeal to Chuck Palahniuk fans as well as hard-boiled crime readers.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        November 1, 2008
        A troubled young man tries to redeem his life.

        Web Goodhue is running out of fans. His best friend Chev, who 's fed and housed him uncomplainingly, finally gives him an ultimatum: Shape up or get lost. Perhaps it 's the shock of an endangered friendship that catapults Web toward epiphany. He begins to understand that trauma, however real and painful, can 't forever excuse parasitic behavior. So he gets a job, and an unlikely job it is. Webster Goodhue, former dedicated high-school teacher, is now a crime-scene cleaner-upper. As the newest member of Team Clean, his role is to scrub away the messy and invariably gore-drenched aftermath of violent death. Oddly enough, he finds the work satisfying —an encouraging sign that he 's on his way to becoming "a kind of a grown-up. " True, he encounters unimagined downsides, from severe beatings administered by rancorous rivals (crime-scene cleaning, it turns out, is a growth industry that 's fiercely competitive) to a near-death experience at the hands of some no-goods convinced he stands between them and a cherished get-rich scam. As for the upsides, there 's the lovely, sexy Soledad, who may have an unexpected downside as well.

        Violent and uncomfortably graphic at times, but the dialogue is sharp and funny, and Huston (The Shotgun Rule, 2007, etc.), as always, does it his way.


      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        December 15, 2008
        This isn't a typical mysteryreaders don't encounter a murder until p. 192and the protagonist isn't a typical investigator, but then Huston's previous works featuring a vampire PI (Joe Pitt Casebooks series) and a slacker hit man (Hank Thompson) are also atypical. In Huston's second stand-alone work (after "Shotgun Rule"), Web Goodhue, a thirtyish Hollywood elementary school teacher traumatized by the violent death of a student, quits his job and retreats into an emotional shell. Helping an acquaintance clean up crime scenes gets Web involved with a young woman whose father died in a very messy suicide. She and her maniacal brother entangle Web in stolen almonds, human smuggling, murderous criminals, and her own kidnapping. Huston tells a wild and fanciful tale with gritty and witty skill, although the graphic language may be too strong for some patrons. For most public libraries.Roland Person, emeritus, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale

        Copyright 2008 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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      • value: Fiction
      • value: Mystery
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With a style that is razor sharp, an eye that never shies from the gritty details, and a taste for stories that simultaneously shock, disturb, and entertain, Charlie Huston is one of a kind. And The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death is the type of story--swift, twisted, hilarious, somehow hopeful--that only he could dream up.

The fact is, whether it's a dog hit by a train or an old lady who had a heart attack on the can, someone has to clean up the nasty mess. And that someone is Webster Fillmore Goodhue, who just may be the least likely person in Los Angeles County to hold down such a gig. With his teaching career derailed by tragedy, Web hasn't done much for the last year except some heavy slacking. But when his only friend in the world lets him know that his freeloading days are over, and he tires of taking cash from his spaced-out mom and refuses to take any more from his embittered father, Web joins Clean Team--and soon finds himself sponging a Malibu...
Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death A Novel
A Novel
Random House Publishing Group