Death and Humour – seems such an unlikely combination; but Christopher Moore weaves these two bizarrely different threads into a brilliant book: A Dirty Job. The book starts with the protagonist Charlie Asher losing his wife to a sudden death. At her deathbed he sees a guy, who nobody else is able to see. Weird things keep happening to Asher and later he realizes he has been given the job of death. Well, not exactly death – but a person who helps the souls of the dying people find their rightful new owner, a soul collector.
This book presents the concept that a person’s soul is attached to something inanimate, Asher has to find the thing and pass it to its next owner. The concept is bizarre, and we the readers with Asher learn the nitty-gritty’s of this dirty job. Through the book Asher fights with the dark side to protect the collected souls and to keep his daughter safe. The book serves generous helpings of humour throughout the narration. Death is not shown as something to be afraid of, but a method to move on.
Strange concept, and even stranger characters inhabit the book. Asher’s two helpers Lily (who dreams of being death herself and finds that immensely cool) and Ray (an ex-cop who believes Asher is a serial killer), his neighbours (one from China, one from Russia), the living-on-the-streets Emperor of San Francisco and his dogs, the two hellhounds who are at beck-and-call of his daughter Sophie, and another death merchant named after mints – Minty Fresh. It is an ensemble of strange, varied characters and still they evoke empathy and are believable.
This book is surely a very different read, but nonetheless an enjoyable one.