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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,352 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Charlie Huston Narrator: Paul Michael Garcia Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2009 ISBN: 9781455192069
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Webster Fillmore Goodhue has found temporary work as one of the mop-up crew for the Los Angeles County crime division. In other words, he cleans up grisly crime scenes for the cops. When the daughter of a recent Malibu suicide victim asks for his help cleaning up after her brother has gotten into a little trouble, every cell in Web’s brain is telling him to turn her down. But she’s very attractive, and before he knows it, he’s well on his way to getting his face kicked in, facing down some gun-toting LA cowboys, and hanging on for dear life. And that’s only the beginning.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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.”

    Stephen King

  • “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.”

    New York Times Book Review 

  • “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.”

    New York Times

  • “Hilarious, with the comedy getting darker and funnier as Web falls ever deeper into an intricate, overpowering mess that even he may not be able to clean up. Huston’s characters are mostly loons, but his way with characterization and plot are so sure-handed and appealing, you’ll find yourself desperately hoping they survive to live another day and star in a sequel, Clorox at the ready.”

    Dallas Morning News 

  • “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.”

     Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “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.”

    Denver Post

  • “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.”

    Pittsburgh Tribune

  • “Noir master Huston 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…This one should appeal to Chuck Palahniuk fans as well as hard-boiled crime readers.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Reader Paul Michael Garcia manages an astonishing array of vocal pitches—from bass male to alto female. More important, he inhabits this novel’s smart-mouthed, emotionally scarred narrator, Web, a former elementary school teacher who takes a job scrubbing up after messy deaths and, consequently, becomes entangled with various shady entrepreneurs with very short tempers.”

    AudioFile

  • Winner of the 2009 Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award
  • A 2010 Anthony Award Nominee for Best Novel
  • A 2010 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominee for Best Novel

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 ehnonymus | 11/25/2013

    " sometimes the overly witty snark of the dialogue got a little old, but ultimately i was quite surprised and delighted by the mystic arts of erasing all signs of death. i liked that the back story unfolded slowly and the way the main character grows and changes without it being told as a ridiculous moment of catharsis. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 MJ | 11/25/2013

    " At a time when forensic crime mysteries abound, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death is different. Webster Fillmore Goodhue, a man on his way to hitting bottom, finds himself taking a job with the Clean Team, and learning who cleans up after the CSI team has left the two week old corpse of an elderly hermit who has taken to hoarding, EVERYTHING. This odd little tale reveals the Webster's efforts to begin the climb out of his post traumatic hell by way of cleaning up other's horrors. Complications and incompetencies arise along the way. The dialog uses profanity as punctuation as much as description and is not for the easily offended. Webster's story is complicated and touching. While entirely grounded in a rough, violent real world, Huston's irreverent humor will be popular with fans of Christopher Moore. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathy | 11/22/2013

    " This was classic Huston, which was good and bad. Great story itself, quick paced and interesting characters. It's just that his dialogue is so...odd. You get used to it quickly, but if one more person spoke. In partial. Sentences. Ack, you get the picture. So it should be three and a half stars. Huston's Hank Thompson trilogy was one of the joys of my reading life...check it out. It is his masterpiece. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Krista | 11/8/2013

    " Certainly not high literature, but a fun, fast, pulp noir read. At times I was reminded of "The Big Lebowski"...this books strikes me as being written with the intention of being turned into a screenplay. I noticed other reviewers commenting on the constant f-bombs and other language; I didn't even notice it much. I don't know what that says about me or the books/movies I enjoy. It seemed to fit the characters. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carol | 10/25/2013

    " This book was weird and I could only get through the first couple of chapters. Not sure if it's one I'll ever pick up again to finish. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Elizabeth Rhodes | 10/25/2013

    " I couldn't get past the format--no punctuation, etc. I suppose it's brilliant, but I just found it confusing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Helen | 10/22/2013

    " Reads like a screenplay, not at all mystic "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laurie | 10/19/2013

    " Very good, whatever style it's called. Pulp, noir, hipster mystery... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Writer | 10/15/2013

    " I'd actually give it 3 1/2 stars, if this program allowed. Gritty and intense, yet leavened with a black sense of humor -- another gripping book by Charlie Huston. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gretchen | 10/5/2013

    " A very quick read--I finished it in one day!--funny dialog, interesting characters. I definitely recommend this book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric | 3/25/2013

    " Loved it! Very gritty, gutty, and messing, but I love how the story just kept unfolding bit by bit. Interesting characters. Very fast witty punchy dialog. Great LA setting if you are a fan of LA. My only complaint is that it is too short. Could have had a lot more :) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cheryl | 12/21/2012

    " I really enjoyed this book, I thought the main character was pretty interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Timothy | 7/6/2012

    " I can honestly say I have never enjoyed a character as much as Web Goodhue. He is a complete smart-ass/asshole. I absolutely loved him.(Reminded me of myself). I laughed out loud many times while reading this book. *****5 stars "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah | 9/25/2011

    " This book didn't really do anything for me. There's not much of a plot, and the dialog seems forced (the book is mostly dialog). I read a little more than half before giving up. It's overdue at the library and not really worth the 15 cents a day. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James | 8/14/2011

    " A slacker takes a job cleaning up crime and other gruesome scenes. His new job leads to his meeting a young woman, the daughter of a recent suicide, who brings him to sordid business. A great and gruesome twist on a classic noir set-up. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kelly | 7/11/2011

    " Even on audiobook, I just couldn't get into this. The main character is just too much of an asshole. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anita Laabs | 6/11/2011

    " Weirdly good. Nasty subject matter but so honest that you wish you could live that way (just a little). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Josh | 6/6/2011

    " Started strong and really interested then got mired in a plot that didn't fit. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anita | 5/21/2011

    " Weirdly good. Nasty subject matter but so honest that you wish you could live that way (just a little). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephanie | 5/4/2011

    " Parts were good....some not so good. The author needs to embrace punctuation though- especially quotation marks (there are none!) "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Margaret | 4/29/2011

    " Fun to read but in retrospect, the story wasn't that great. Great writing style. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Helen | 3/31/2011

    " Reads like a screenplay, not at all mystic "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 WillowBe | 3/12/2011

    " I can't recall much about it; probably bec I listened to it, and I'm more a visual learner. I would read another book by him in the future. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Thomas | 3/9/2011

    " You might not think you want to read a book about trauma cleaners, but you do. This will satisfy my noir fix for a couple months. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 George | 3/5/2011

    " Charlie Huston. If you enjoy Stephen King, Huston will blow you away. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Linda | 3/3/2011

    " I couldn't really tell if I liked this book, actually, because I was so distracted by the author's refusal to use quotation marks. It made it impossible to lose myself in the content. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alex | 3/2/2011

    " The dialouge was difficult to keep up with at times. I found myself going backwards to determine who said what to create the current conversation I was reading. That was frustrating. The guy is a real asshole too. It received really great reviews, but kind of forgettable for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jacob | 3/1/2011

    " An interesting read, far better and deeper than I thought it would be. I'll have to check out some more Charlie Huston in the future. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cheryl | 2/22/2011

    " I really enjoyed this book, I thought the main character was pretty interesting. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jlw48 | 2/8/2011

    " The best part of this book is the title. It's all down hill after that! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Trey | 2/6/2011

    " Great style. great pace and one cool story. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Conor | 2/1/2011

    " Very entertaining, but it's similarities with another novel, Steve Erickson's Zeroville, worked against it in my mind. Nonetheless, it's a good read. I'd definitely like to read more Huston, but as fresh as the dialogue is, the loser-in-over-his-head plot feels stale. "

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About the Author
Author Charlie Huston

Charlie Huston is the bestselling author of The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death; The Shotgun Rule; the Henry Thompson trilogy, which includes the Edgar Award–nominated Six Bad Things; and the Joe Pitt Casebooks. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, the actress Virginia Louise Smith.

About the Narrator

Paul Michael Garcia, an AudioFile Earphones Award winner and former company member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, received his classical training in theater from Southern Oregon University, where he worked as an actor, director, and designer.