A Dirty Job

A Dirty Job

4.5 403
by Christopher Moore

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Charlie Asher is a pretty normal guy with a normal life, married to a bright and pretty woman who actually loves him for his normalcy. They're even about to have their first child. Yes, Charlie's doing okay—until people start dropping dead around him, and everywhere he goes a dark presence whispers to him from under the streets. Charlie Asher, it seems, has

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Charlie Asher is a pretty normal guy with a normal life, married to a bright and pretty woman who actually loves him for his normalcy. They're even about to have their first child. Yes, Charlie's doing okay—until people start dropping dead around him, and everywhere he goes a dark presence whispers to him from under the streets. Charlie Asher, it seems, has been recruited for a new position: as Death.

It's a dirty job. But, hey! Somebody's gotta do it.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
From the twisted imagination of Christopher Moore (The Stupidest Angel, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, et al.) comes a dark -- and wonderfully weird -- novel about a hapless San Francisco thrift shop owner recruited to become a soul collector for the Scythe Wielder himself, Death.

Charlie Asher is a typical Beta Male. He's not exceptionally handsome or tall or strong, and he's definitely not the heroic type. But the slightly neurotic Asher has a good life; he owns a secondhand store in San Francisco, and his wife, Rachel, is about to give birth to their first child. Then the unthinkable happens: Asher's wife dies shortly after giving birth to a baby girl. When Asher inexplicably witnesses a Merchant of Death (a seven-foot black dude named Minty Fresh, who sports a green suit and is invisible to everyone else) enter the hospital room and take his wife's soul, he too becomes involved in the soul re-acquisitioning business. Accompanied by two giant hellhounds and his trusty sword-cane, Asher's dirty job leads him to an apocalyptic confrontation with the real forces of darkness…

Comparable to works from popular satirical authors like Tim Dorsey, Carl Hiaasen, Terry Pratchett, and Paul Di Filippo, Moore's blend of dark fantasy, supernatural mystery, and absurdist fiction will have readers irresistibly hooked from the first page to the last. Chock-full of laugh-out-loud sequences and more than a few profoundly moving morsels of existentialist insight, A Dirty Job handles some highly sensitive subjects (terminal illness, grief and healing, the afterlife, etc.) with both humor and reverence -- a truly twisted masterwork. Paul Goat Allen

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A Dirty Job

A Novel
By Christopher Moore

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Christopher Moore
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060590270

Chapter One

Because I could not stop for death he kindly stopped for me

Charlie Asher 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. Blessed with the Beta Male imagination, he spent much of his life squinting into the future so he might spot ways in which the world was conspiring to kill him -- him; his wife, Rachel; and now, newborn Sophie. But despite his attention, his paranoia, his ceaseless fretting from the moment Rachel peed a blue stripe on the pregnancy stick to the time they wheeled her into recovery at St. Francis Memorial, Death slipped in.

"She's not breathing," Charlie said.

"She's breathing fine," Rachel said, patting the baby's back. "Do you want to hold her?"

Charlie had held baby Sophie for a few seconds earlier in the day, and had handed her quickly to a nurse insisting that someone more qualified than he do some finger and toe counting. He'd done it twice and kept coming up with twenty-one.

"They act like that's all there is to it. Like if the kid has the minimum ten fingers and ten toes it's all going to be fine. What if there are extras? Huh? Extra-creditfingers? What if the kid has a tail?" (Charlie was sure he'd spotted a tail in the six-month sonogram. Umbilical indeed! He'd kept a hard copy.)

"She doesn't have a tail, Mr. Asher," the nurse explained. "And it's ten and ten, we've all checked. Perhaps you should go home and get some rest."

"I'll still love her, even with her extra finger."

"She's perfectly normal."

"Or toe."

"We really do know what we're doing, Mr. Asher. She's a beautiful, healthy baby girl."

"Or a tail."

The nurse sighed. She was short, wide, and had a tattoo of a snake up her right calf that showed through her white nurse stockings. She spent four hours of every workday massaging preemie babies, her hands threaded through ports in a Lucite incubator, like she was handling a radioactive spark in there. She talked to them, coaxed them, told them how special they were, and felt their hearts fluttering in chests no bigger than a balled-up pair of sweat socks. She cried over every one, and believed that her tears and touch poured a bit of her own life into the tiny bodies, which was just fine with her. She could spare it. She had been a neonatal nurse for twenty years and had never so much as raised her voice to a new father.

"There's no goddamn tail, you doofus! Look!" She pulled down the blanket and aimed baby Sophie's bottom at him like she might unleash a fusillade of weapons-grade poopage such as the guileless Beta Male had never seen.

Charlie jumped back -- a lean and nimble thirty, he was -- then, once he realized that the baby wasn't loaded, he straightened the lapels on his tweed jacket in a gesture of righteous indignation. "You could have removed her tail in the delivery room and we'd never know." He didn't know. He'd been asked to leave the delivery room, first by the ob-gyn and finally by Rachel. ("Him or me," Rachel said. "One of us has to go.")

In Rachel's room, Charlie said: "If they removed her tail, I want it. She'll want it when she gets older."

"Sophie, your Papa isn't really insane. He just hasn't slept for a couple of days."

"She's looking at me," Charlie said. "She's looking at me like I blew her college money at the track and now she's going to have to turn tricks to get her MBA."

Rachel took his hand. "Honey, I don't think her eyes can even focus this early, and besides, she's a little young to start worrying about her turning tricks to get her MFA."

"MBA," Charlie corrected. "They start very young these days. By the time I figure out how to get to the track, she could be old enough. God, your parents are going to hate me."

"And that would be different how?"

"New reasons, that's how. Now I've made their granddaughter a shiksa." "She's not a shiksa, Charlie. We've been through this. She's my daughter, so she's as Jewish as I am."

Charlie went down on one knee next to the bed and took one of Sophie's tiny hands between his fingers. "Daddy's sorry he made you a shiksa." He put his head down, buried his face in the crook where the baby met Rachel's side. Rachel traced his hairline with her fingernail, describing a tight U-turn around his narrow forehead.

"You need to go home and get some sleep."

Charlie mumbled something into the covers. When he looked up there were tears in his eyes. "She feels warm."

"She is warm. She's supposed to be. It's a mammal thing. Goes with the breast-feeding. Why are you crying?"

"You guys are so beautiful." He began arranging Rachel's dark hair across the pillow, brought a long lock down over Sophie's head, and started styling it into a baby hairpiece.

"It will be okay if she can't grow hair. There was that angry Irish singer who didn't have any hair and she was attractive. If we had her tail we could transplant plugs from that."

"Charlie! Go home!"

"Your parents will blame me. Their bald shiksa granddaughter turning tricks and getting a business degree -- it will be all my fault."

Rachel grabbed the buzzer from the blanket and held it up like it was wired to a bomb. "Charlie, if you don't go home and get some sleep right now, I swear I'll buzz the nurse and have her throw you out."

She sounded stern, but she was smiling. Charlie liked looking at her smile, always had; it felt like approval and permission at the same time. Permission to be Charlie Asher.

"Okay, I'll go." He reached to feel her forehead. "Do you have a fever? You look tired."


Excerpted from A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore Copyright © 2006 by Christopher Moore. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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What People are saying about this

Gregory Maguire
“Dizzyingly inventive and hypnotically engaging, A DIRTY JOB is . . . like no other book I’ve ever read.”

Meet the Author

Christopher Moore is the author of fourteen previous novels, including Lamb, The Stupidest Angel, Fool, Sacré Bleu, A Dirty Job, and The Serpent of Venice. He lives in San Francisco, California.

Brief Biography

Hawaii and San Francisco, California
Date of Birth:
August 5, 1958
Place of Birth:
Toledo, Ohio

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A Dirty Job 4.5 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 403 reviews.
InfantApple More than 1 year ago
Cover caught my eye and I just couldn't help myself. This is the first book I read of Moores and afterwards his name was forever etched in my brain, placed in the must keep and eye out for his books category. Moore has the most interesting imagination out there, when I wasn't laughing myself into tears I was wondering how the heck he came up with this stuff. If you have an offbeat sense of humor and think you can handle a six-foot tall black man named Minty Fresh, Sewer Harpies, and garbage disposal Hell Dogs then I highly recommend this book. At the end of it you will find yourself yelling down manholes, try to find your own pair of Hell dogs, and calling everything strong like bear.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hilarious, like the rest of Moore's work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you do not like this book, then you have absolutely no sense of humor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is by far one of the most entertaining books I have ever read! I laughed out loud throughout the entire book. The characters were dramatic and amusing and the plot and general scene was perfect. I couldn't ask for a better and more entertaining story. If you like comedies and want to have a laugh...BUY THIS BOOK! By far one of Moore's best works!
Anonymous 6 months ago
Weirdly, darkly, laugh out loud funny. I enjoyed it a lot.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He writes the funniest book ever!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first Christopher Moore book I've read and definitely won't be the last. You have to have a sense of humor for the absurd- if you don't, you probably won't care for it. If you do, be prepared for a rollicking good time. I throughly the 'sewer harpies'- I'll probably be using that expression for unpleasant people from now on!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am up for gay sex too. Go to lick res one
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Never understood the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
stellamaymarie More than 1 year ago
i love all christopher moore books, but this one may be my favorite. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
See above.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All the heavily neurotic, mildly Jewish, low grade anxiety-riddled joys of family life, and a *really* tall man with a *really* big gun (spoiler alert! He's not our brave protagonist at all! Gasp!). Loved every word in this book.
SukyLC More than 1 year ago
My favorite Moore. Well written characters, great story, and squirrel people! A must read for Moore fans.
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I couldn't put this book down. It has it all, comedy, action, and a above all twisted sense of humor. This book deals with an outside idea that death is some sort of job that people get chosen for. Must read if your sense of humor is dark and twisted.
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