A Dirty Job

A Dirty Job

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 been recruited for a new position: as Death.

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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060590284
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/27/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 83,948
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.94(d)

About the Author

Christopher Moore is the author of the novels Secondhand Souls, Sacré Bleu, A Dirty Job, and Lamb. He lives in San Francisco, California.


Hawaii and San Francisco, California

Date of Birth:

August 5, 1958

Place of Birth:

Toledo, Ohio

Read an Excerpt

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.

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.”

Customer Reviews

A Dirty Job 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 497 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!
TheLiteraryPhoenix More than 1 year ago
They warned me this wasn’t as good as Lamb, but I didn’t listen. A Dirty Job has the same humor as I was expecting from Christopher Moore, but the pacing was a little more awkward here, and the jokes were much more abrasive. In this book, Charlie Asher becomes a Death Merchant quite against his own will. Death Merchants aren’t Grim Reapers… they’re more responsible for soul transference. When someone dies, their soul is transferred into a beloved object, and it’s the job of people like Charlie to make sure these ascending souls get into the right hands. Of course, it’s all a bit complicated when two Hell Hounds show up out of nowhere and your daughter can kill people by pointing and saying “kitty”. I still appreciate the amount of mythology that goes into his books, but this isn’t strictly a book about spirituality. Moore once again takes inspiration from Eastern spirituality, but the story is much more urban fantasy. What bothers me about this one is the humor. Which, I’ll admit, is weird, because that’s what I loved about Lamb. Moore dared to push boundaries and it really WORKED. It felt more timely and appropriate in that novel, because the subject was relevant. The anti-semetic jokes and sexist jokes and homosexual jokes feel like pointless jabs. I actually don’t believe that Moore is a racist – I think he’s being very tongue-in-cheek about it all… but they add nothing here and are a bit cringy. It’s exasperating, but because you know it’s not meant, it’s not straight of offensive? It’s hard to explain. But given how many people of all shapes and sizes who are not offended by this stuff, I think it’s not just me. The characters in this book are all pretty good… although Charlie was a bit exasperating. You know those characters who you don’t personally like, but are written just fine? That’s my relationship with Charlie Asher. I really enjoyed Minty Fresh and Lilly, and little Sophie is a firecracker. The quirkiness of the writing is fantastic (questionable jokes aside) and it’s absolutely a fun listen. I really loved the San Francisco setting, because I feel like it’s an aspect of a city we don’t see very often. Most city-based books take place in either the elite settings… or in a variety of bars and clubs. A Dirty Job takes place between second-hand shops and residential areas and it just felt… fresh? I liked the setting. Overall, I’m still here for Christopher Moore’s writing. When it’s not funny, it’s still fun, and stories are just quirky enough to feel akin to Terry Pratchett, which I am always into. Now that my expectations have dropped a little, I think I’m adequately prepared to enjoy the rest of his novels. A Dirty Job has a sequel, and I’ll definitely be adding that to the TBR. Aside – has anyone seen Dead Like Me? George would definitely appreciate this novel. Or, at least, Mason would.
ragwaine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was laugh out loud funny with very lovable characters. The plot was a little cliche and Orcus got punked but overall it was great. The squirrel people, while being the most original aspect of the novel, were kind of a stretch and seemed a bit forced.
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My reactions to this book are a mixed bag. On the positive side, when all is said and done, it's quite funny. Moore's discourses on the beta-maleness of Charlie, the Goth store clerk, even the Sewer Harpy villains were well-handled and good for quite a number of laughs. In fact, with the exception of the brief appearance of the angry Muslim (which struck a quite jarring note in an, otherwise, light book), I found each of the characters amusing, even if only as the straight man for someone with whom they were paired.On the negative side, there are a couple of things. The first is that the book drags just a bit in some places. It needed a ruthless editor to come along and remove about 10% of the text. Moore has a very breezy style that can move right along. However, the flow of the plot kept getting interrupted with points where all I wanted to say was, "OK, I get the picture; let's move along!"The second is that a major component of the ending relies on the main character being so obtuse that he cannot see what has been obvious to even the least discerning reader—potentially from the cover, definitely from the first quarter of the book. In some ways, this made the book seem even longer, as I found myself saying, "When are you going to wake up and smell the coffee, you idiot?"
yarmando on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Charlie Asher's wife dies unexpectedly, he struggles not only with his newborn daughter but his new vocation as a "death merchant," retrieving the objects that someone's soul enters after they die. Soon, this all seems to become routine, but something dark and powerful is stirring in the sewers beneath the city.Why I picked it up: I was hankering for another of Moore's San Francisco stories. It was great to see the Emperor, Inspector Rivera, and other side characters (including an Abby Normal cameo!) again.Why I finished it: Not for Fisher Steven's performance. I didn't like his reading of "Lamb," either, and I hope he's not becoming the go-to performer for Moore's books. He's competent, but I prefer Susan Bennett's work. That aside, the book kept me going with its surprising wisdom. Behind the comedy, Moore gives us a very thoughtful exploration of the meaning of death and grief. And the particular qualities of beta males.I'd give it to: Anyone who liked "Dead Like Me" or Piers Anthony's "On a Pale Horse" would welcome this more comic take on the same idea.
Bohh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A quick entertaining read that keeps moving and keeps you turning the pages. The ending was disappointing to me, but it summed everything up. The book was a bit predictable toward the end but over all I enjoyed the book.
dougwood57 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In `A Dirty Job' author Christopher Moore creates a wildly imaginative, often hilarious world of Death that somehow manages to be poignant at the same time. How does he do that?? I don't know, but it's a lot of fun, a great read, and yet touches the human spirit. Moore's protagonist Charlie Asher, a mild-mannered recently widowed dealer in used goods is unsettled to discover that he has somehow become a Death Merchant. He has to track down people who have just died or are about to die and collect their soul vessel so it can be passed on to somebody else who really needs it. Simple enough, or so it seems until the Morrigan show up. The Morrigan are large black bird-like creatures who live in the storm sewers of San Francisco. They are at odds with Asher and his colleagues. And then some of the people who are supposed to die don't. Lack of death causes a Death Merchant a lot of trouble. It turns out that the lack of death is no accident, but is the result of a third-party intervention that involves really strange creatures made up of parts of dead animals sewn together and wearing nightgowns. So, how does all that rollicking weirdness get poignant? Well, underneath all the weirdness, his book really is about Death, the death of spouses and mothers and lovers and how we deal with it. Moore's Note and Acknowledgement explain his inspiration for some of his ideas, including the dead animals in dresses. Check out art by Monique Motil. It can be found on the web and it's, uhh interesting. A Dirty Job is a lot of fun, a quick read, that's sure to brighten your day (hey, you're not dead yet, are you?).
sagustocox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Christopher Moore's Dirty Job is set in San Francisco, Calif., much like the vampire novels. This book starts off with Charlie Asher and his wife Rachel, and they are about to have a baby. In one fateful moment, Charlie's world is turned upside down and inside out. His wife dies and he is left to be a single parent to his daughter, Sophie. This doesn't tell you anything the reader will find out in the first few pages of the book.***Spoiler Alert***Charlie looks up to find a 7-foot tall black man standing over his dying wife and he's wearing a sea green leisure suit. Minty Fresh is a death merchant, and that is exactly what Charlie has become by seeing him. His wife dies, leaving him to parent his daughter alone. Charlie wakes up and finds notes on his bedside with people's names on them. These are the souls he must collect within the alotted time frame. Their souls get caught in material objects that only he and the other death merchants can see glowing red. Missing those soul vessels can spell dire trouble for the residents of San Francisco. The trouble that emerges shortly after a series of missteps by Charlie and others in the book. And only the luminatus can save them and the city.***End Spoiler Alert***My husband and I listened to this audiobook on our commutes to and from work. It was a riot to listen to, and I had a great time roaring with laughter at 5 A.M. People driving alongside us on the highway must have thought we were crazy.I just love Moore's dark humor and his witty descriptions of his characters, their actions, the city, and the dark beings that live beneath the city. The Morrigan, the dark beings, play off of one another's weaknesses and bumble around the city trying to steal souls and bring darkness to the city.Moore's imaginative langauge, plush with imagery, takes a witty look at death, life, from his 14-inch high squirrel people to the goth-girl turned chef to the Asian bride perusing ex-cop who works in Charlie's Second Hand store.One scene in particular will make you stand up and say I better get the most out of this life. I must enjoy that wedge of cheese, every little lick, nibble, and swallow. The plot and language had be running through the audiobook and refusing to get out of the car when it came time to get into the office. While the plot was a little predictable, I enjoyed every minute of this book.
JustMe869 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Christopher Moore is a cross between Douglas Adams and Lenny Bruce. Charlie Asher, the hero of A Dirty Job, is a Beta Male."Beta Males have survived not by meeting and overcoming adversity, but by anticipating and avoiding it. That is, when the Alpha Males were out charging after mastodons, the Beta Males could imagine in advance that attacking what was essentially an angry, wooly bulldozer with a pointy stick might be a losing proposition, so they hung back at camp to console the grieving widows. When Alpha Males set out to conquer neighboring tribes, to count coups and take heads, Beta Males could see in advance that in the event of victory, the influx of female slaves was going to leave a surplus of mateless women cast out for younger trophy models, with nothing to do but salt down the heads and file the uncounted coups, and some would find solace in the arms of any Beta Male smart enough to survive. In the case of defeat, well, there was that widows thing again. The Beta Male is seldom the strongest or the fastest, but because he can anticipate danger, he far outnumbers his Alpha Male competition. The world is led by Alpha Males, but the machinery of the world turns on the bearings of the Beta Male."Works for me!
missmath144 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Death Merchants retrieve sould vessels when people die and hang onto them until the right person comes along needing a soul. Very funny!
tangential1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Christopher Moore writes really funny books and this one is no exception. The difference here is that while a lot of his novels seem to exist just to get a laugh (Practical Demon Keeping and The Stupidest Angel, for example), A Dirty Job has something of an underlying point: a poignant introspection on death and dying. As with Lamb, Moore does an excellent job melding sincere moments with his usual hilarity, to the benefit of both. An excellent read; highly recommended.
rcrichards on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book as I have all the others I have read by Christopher Moore. I enjoy his ability to blend humor and the supernatural. I thought the epilogue undermined the pathos of Charlie Asher's character arch. Here is a person that spends much of his life being as innocuous as possible and then finds a purpose larger than himself through death (mostly other peoples).
melydia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Charlie Asher is a pretty regular guy until the birth of his daughter and death of his wife. Then strange things begin to happen. Suddenly his life revolves around sewer harpies, hellhounds, and soul vessels. I've found Moore to be hit or miss (mostly miss), but this was pretty consistently funny, especially considering it dealt so much with grief and loss. I liked several of the characters, such as Jane and Lily, but the whole thing started to fall apart near the end, when Audrey and the squirrel people started showing up. It felt more like a scramble to tie up loose ends than anything planned in advance, as if the whole thing had been written off the cuff in response to some sort of random prompt, which is a complaint I've had about Moore in the past. All in all, it was a decently funny story, just not a very polished novel.
leahdawn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I actually listened to this one on audiobook, and I think that helped to increase the charm of the book. Listening to it on the way to and from work and almost peeing my pants at the funny part, this book did a great job of helping me relax and cheer up. Would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys profuse amounts of profanity, it's hilarious and endearing.
mikemillertime on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Decently entertaining and mildly humorous, "A DIrty Job" tells the story of a sad-sack single dad who reluctantly becomes the Grim Reaper. The jokes are very cheap (dick jokes, racial stereotypes) and the story is a bit all over the place, not adhering to a singular well-defined structure for its fantasy world. But the story moves well at a pleasantly distracting pace, and humor in books is difficult for anyone to completely pull off.
bribre01 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A funny, imaginative book! Not they type of book I normally read, but I loved this one and breezed through it in 3 days! I will def read more Christopher Moore books in the future!
tbert204 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Someone recommended Moore to me and this book did not disappoint. There were moments I put the book down laughing and found myself still laughing later that day. The style is conversational and his irreverence is intoxicating. This book got right into the plot by the second page, no set ups or waiting around. There didn't seem to be a scene I couldn't visualize; just flat out fun to read. I've always revered Stephen King for his vicious humor but now I've found a new god to worship. The only reason I gave it 4 stars was the ending. Moore introduces a character about 80% through the book that is pivotal to the ending and she feels forced into the action whereas everyone else seemed to fit together nicely. And the real stopper? The cover gave away the ending! Keep up the laughs, Christopher.
trinityM82 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Also freaking hilarious, though there are instances where Moore shows his sensitivity as a human being. He will make you cry on one page and then make you laugh out loud on the next. He is brilliant. He mixes mythology with sarcasm and ingenuity. Some things are predictable, but other things hit you from left field. Charlie looses his wife but gains a daughter and a new profession as a Death Merchant. Moore's philosophy about Karma is really interesting - souls are transported into a person's most important possession and are then given to their next body via second-hand stores. (Just another reason to visit garage sales and bookstores- I'm apparently looking for my soul).
Jenners26 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
2 Words that describe the book: Dying (of) Laughter3 Settings where it took place or characters you met:1. Setting: San Francisco, CA, modern times2. Charlie Asher¿a normal guy (a "Beta Male") with a normal life ... until his wife dies shortly after childbirth and he become Death.3. Sophie¿Charlie's young daughter, who seems to have problem keeping pets alive until she gets two 400-pound hellhounds to protect her from the increasingly strange happenings that seem to happen around her and her father. And it turns out young Sophie has some special talents of her own.4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it:1. I like this author. He has such a good imagination and (often dark) sense of humor, but it is wrapped up in this amazingly compassionate and human point of view that keeps his books from being just about the jokes.2. I liked how Moore incorporated research into mythology and religion (in this case, the Tibetan Book of the Dead and creatures called Morrigans from Irish Celtic mythology) into the story.3. I liked how Moore creates these outlandish story lines, but his characters remain firmly grounded in the real world. In fact, I think this juxtaposition is what makes his books so amusing. Charlie may be Death, but he's got a bunch of problems like anyone else.4. I liked all the little extras in my version of the book: a glow-in-the-dark cover and The Official, Christopher Moore-Sanctioned "Are You A Beta Male?" Quiz.5 Stars or less for your rating?I'm giving the book 4 stars. If you haven't picked up on it by now, I just adore Christopher Moore's books. I didn't think this book was as good as Lamb, but only in the sense that I got 2.3 laughs per page instead of 4.2. If you enjoy wicked humor with an edge (and a heart), Moore is the author for you.
Jacklynn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gotta love his little girl..."Kitty!" That is too cute!
QueenAlyss on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A laugh out loud novel that is truly amazing to read. I fell in love with Christopher Moore through this novel and I love his satire! A Dirty Job: A Novel is about a man who becomes a soul merchant... finding peoples' souls that are trapped in their most believed material possessions and then gives them to the people whose body lacks a soul. At the same time, dark creatures are attempting to steal the souls to replenish themselves in order to take over the world and plunge it into darkness. Who will be the big D?Wonderful novel that any person should read, unless that person is of course a short- sighted old crone who believes that shagging and and such should be left for closed doors, lol
7DogNight on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A genuinely funny "in your face" look at death and its subculture. Set in contemporary San Francisco, Moore's use of time and place couldn't have been better for the bizzare cast of characters he created. Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 50 years I found myself feeling like I was visiting my old haunts one more time which was an added bonus for me. Aside from the walk down memory lane, the story itself is both imaginative and insiteful. Imaginative in his use of a bizzare fantasy world, and insiteful as he delves into a subject most of us find emotionally painful and thus avoid. Despite his liberal use of profanity I found the book to be an emotionally satisfying read.