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The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  4,045 Ratings  ·  463 Reviews
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
...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 29th 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published December 24th 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Carol.
First there was 'chick-lit.' Then there was 'hick-lit.' I hereby dub a new sub-genre: dick-lit. No, it's not about sex, porny-readers. I'm thinking of such books as The Goldfinch, Less Than Zero, Catcher In the Rye, and others whose titles escape me because it isn't a genre I read and enjoy. Usually.

In the way that chick-lit is about women in their twenties finding their way, finding a job and finding a man (not necessarily in that order), dick-lit is about men in their twenties working out thei
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Melki
Jan 15, 2012 Melki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't move.

Not being used to violence happening around me until recently, I didn't have a chance to move. But that didn't make Harris any more reluctant about planting the barrel of his revolver under my chin.

The barrel of a gun, it's cold to the touch.

-Do you know why you're alive?

-Man, I do not. I really don't.

He chucked my chin with the barrel.

-You are alive to clean up the mess after I kill these two.


Former teacher Webster Goodhue is sleeping his life away in an attempt to forget one hor
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Lawyer
Dec 08, 2013 Lawyer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Noir and Pulp Readers with strong stomachs
Recommended to Lawyer by: gr Group Pulp Fiction
The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death: Charlie Huston's Method of Picking up the Pieces

"The thing about getting beat up twice, spending big chunks of time cleaning up other people's blood, seeing your dad for the first time in two years, getting in a fight with your best friend, and having sex with someone you think you might really like a lot and then going totally psycho on her, all in a twenty-four hour period, is that it's likely to affect your judgment."--Webb Fillmore Goodhue


I wa
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Marvin
Feb 11, 2011 Marvin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Charlie Huston is in danger of leading my list as my all-time favorite writer with every book of his I read. I have soared through the Hank Thompson series and the Joe Pitts series. But this is the first stand alone novel of Huston's I've read.

And it is freakin' awesome.

Yeah, the author doesn't know how to use quotation marks. But unlike the pretentiousness of Cormac McCartney and Jose Saramargo, Huston's usage of dashes to connote dialogue moves the plot at neck break speed and the occasional
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Tfitoby
Mar 07, 2012 Tfitoby rated it it was amazing

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ranked #9 on my Top 10 Reads in 2012

Blurb: 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 daughte
...more
Kemper
Mar 18, 2009 Kemper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery, noir
With a sympathetic but emotionally self-destructive main character, an off-beat plot and lots of very gory humor, this was a wildly original story and my favorite Charlie Huston novel to date. Those with weak stomachs should note that there are very graphic scenes dealing with the clean-up of human remains in the aftermath of extreme violence.
Mike (the Paladin)
Well...I need to thank my public library. They have helped me immensely in having this book for me to check out. Now I know I don't ever want to read anything else by Mr. Huston. I already had a second book ready to read but this piece of crap has opened my eyes. Mr. Huston is not writing for me...I am not his target audience. His humor is not the humor I find funny. His characters are not ones I really care for or about. This book lost my interest early on, never got it back and finally managed ...more
Ladiibbug
Jan 19, 2009 Ladiibbug rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No One!!!!
1/2 a star is being generous

AWFUL. SIMPLY HORRIBLE. WHAT A WASTE OF PAPER.

Quit after 90 pages.

Unlikeable characters, who all have the emotional and intellectual depth of Beavis & Butthead. Dialog written sounds like the reader is watching the idiotic twosome. Every other word is the "f" word or something similar. I think I lost about 100 brain cells due to dumbing down while reading this book for one hour.

The crime scene cleaning company's work is described in sickening and disrespectful way
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Amy Corwin
Feb 06, 2009 Amy Corwin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
"The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death" is one of those books I would classify as a guilty pleasure. When discussing fiction with other intellectuals, I would probably disclaim all knowledge of this book. But privately, I LOVED IT and will most assuredly be buying more books by Huston.

This is not the kind of novel a 15-year-old girl should admit to reading, especially to her parents. (And no, I don't fit into that category.) It is also not the kind of novel one would expect a fifty-somet
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Katy
Jun 04, 2011 Katy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: most people
Shelves: vine-book
Disclosure: This was an Amazon Vine book. I read and reviewed it in 2009.

My Synopsis: Webster Goodhue used to be an elementary-school teacher, until a traumatic event catapulted him into a depression that has left him bumming around behind his tattoo artist friend Chev. However, when Chev tells him the free ride is over and that Web had better take the job that their friend Po Sin has just offered (cleaning up stuff - a rather vague description), Web finds himself in a most unexpected field of w
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bjartur of summerhouses
Nov 06, 2013 bjartur of summerhouses rated it liked it
Recommended to bjartur of summerhouses by: Pulp Fiction December group read
Shelves: disturbing
Last week while reading a different book on my Kindle I received the annoying popup message that I only had 15% power left so after I plugged it in to recharge I grabbed this particular book off my pile to read in the meantime (because I need to have a book to read within arm’s reach at all times). I read about the first 40 or so pages and quickly forgot about the previous book. The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death is an engaging book that quickly sucks you in. Under other circumstances ...more
James Glass
Sep 15, 2014 James Glass rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It was a bit difficult to read at first because the writer's format is something I've never come across. He doesn't use quotation marks for people speaking, but once I got past it, the story flowed along nicely.
Webster Goodhue was an elementary school teacher until his career was detailed by a horrific incident on a field trip. Webster is an obnoxious smartass, but I thought the writer wrote the character well enough so the sarcasm wasn't overly done or drawn out. We
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Rick
Dec 29, 2008 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Eating and reading often go well together. An entertaining book and a good meal can make for a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Unless the book happens to be Charlie Huston’s gruesome thriller The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death.


When his roommate tires of his freeloading, Webster “Web” Fillmore Goodhue gets a job in the cutthroat world of trauma-scene cleanup and soon finds himself knee-deep in blood and guts. The detached, sarcastic former teacher discovers that he is not only good at

...more
Col
Jan 09, 2014 Col rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, h
Synopsis/blurb.....

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 do
...more
Jennie
Dec 08, 2009 Jennie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While reading this book, I encountered some obsessive's post-it notes...

post-it note#1

"I'd like to apologize to you on behalf of whomever it was who dogeared this book. It's a *new* book! I'm opposed to dog-earing *any* booj--but a *library* book? So, (And here the writer of the note has helpfully drawn an arrow to said "dog ear") sorry about that. Interestingly, a book gets dogeared in *this* book--see page 82."

I had a few thoughts about this note...

1. So, while it is deeply offensive to fold a
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Lucinda
May 02, 2010 Lucinda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death (Ballantine 2009) is the very strange story of former Los Angeles elementary school teacher Web Goodhue. For reasons that become clear later, we meet Web in his total slacker phase, leeching off his friend Chev, who runs a tattoo parlor, and the occasional donations from his hippie mother, who grows blackberries and marijuana in Oregon. Just as Chev reaches the end of his generosity, Po Sin, owner of a crime scene cleanup business, offers Web a job. ...more
Glen Stott
Dec 10, 2016 Glen Stott rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I should give this book 5 stars for making me famous – almost. On page 222, he describes the two sewage treatment plant digesters on Terminal Island as reminding him of a woman’s chest. It just so happens that I was on the design team for those digesters in the 1970s. We called them egg-shaped, which is actually a more accurate description. The police helicopters used to pick me up at City Hall and fly me back and forth to Terminal Island whenever I needed to get info at the site. The copters fl ...more
Blamp Head
Mar 10, 2015 Blamp Head rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
DIFFICULTY SETTING
Easy:
Reward="Wow, you're human!" badge
- Find casual, easy banter between characters in the book.
- Enjoy the speed of the dialogue.
- Find the setting fascinating (characters cleaning up after violent incidents). I've never considered the importance of this...
- List all swear words you know, and then some. Find all within this book.
- Feel dirty and in desperate need of a shower or five after reading a couple of chapters of this.
Medium:
Reward="You were paying attention..."
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Jeffrey
May 30, 2009 Jeffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People not afraid to take a chance on a slower evolving thriller without as much overt action
An unusual book; more a tale of redemption than crime fiction. Written in a relatively spare style mostly composed of dialogue it takes a while to unfold. The main character appears at first glance to be a bum sponging off of Chev, a tatoo artist and nipple piercer. We first meet him pulling a nipple taut so it can be pierced. The purchaser of this service Dot, ultimately becomes the girlfriend of Chev.

There is something dreadful in this very literate characters past that has some way caused a
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Terri Light
Jan 29, 2013 Terri Light rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever read a book you hate to love? This was some wild ride right out of a Coen Brothers film (and we are talking Barton Fink and Fargo, not Raising Arizona). Absurd characters, people that itch at you like gnats, mosquitoes, and a couple of big creepy crawlies appear as this story unfolds in front of your eyes like a car accident. There are some dead people, well at least what is left of them, when the members of LA's Clean Team arrive to sanitize the scene. But who the characters are a ...more
Ryan
Mar 03, 2013 Ryan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had read Charlie Huston's Hank Thompson trilogy, an entertaining and fast-paced story about a man and a wrong place / wrong time plot. They are quite good. So I decided to look into another one of his books, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, a stand alone novel about a crime-scene cleanup guy and a job that goes wrong. I liked it at first, but unfortunately it just didn't hold my attention. It's basically just a lot of vulgar conversations between different assholes calling each o ...more
Fuzzy Gerdes
Mar 17, 2009 Fuzzy Gerdes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death has a great noir vibe, a great center-piece -- the world of trauma cleaning -- and a suitably f'ed up protagonist. The only problem I have is that Charlie Huston does this thing where instead of perfectly normal quotation marks and "he said"s, he just uses long dashes and never attributes a line of dialog. Which is a real shame, because the dialog would just flow in a very natural manner, except that every 3 pages I'd run across a line where I'd have ...more
Matt
Aug 23, 2009 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All of Huston's trademarks are here ... the snappy, realistic dialogue, the completely messed up characters, the violence and the bad choices...

Devoured in 2 sittings.

Minor niggle: I don't think LA comes accross with as strong a feeling of "place" (and almost of being a character in its won right) in this book as NYC does in his earlier work.
brian
Feb 16, 2009 brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
what mike reynolds said.
Larry
Mar 30, 2013 Larry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-ever
Maybe one of the best "guy" books I've ever read/listened to. Laugh-out-loud funny from page one! But this is a novel with deep hidden meanings and lessons that sneak up on you at the end and really makes you think. It is a credit to Huston that he was able to carry off the whole thing and make it so fun. One of my Top 5 books of the past 20 yrs! It is a "buddy movie" book, a mystery, a comedy, a coming of age book, a family relations book, a PTSD book, and a book of gangsters. And I still haven ...more
Lukasz Pruski
"[...] the internal dynamics of a bomb in the rectal passage were such that the force of the explosion went straight up. [...] Thing went off, it scoured his viscera, guts, lungs, everything, shot them up through his head and out of the top of his skull. Like a fountain."

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death (2009) is my fourth book by Charlie Huston and a rather major disappointment. I rated his Six Bad Things with four and a half stars, which might have been my highest rating ever fo
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Maddy
Jan 24, 2009 Maddy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-reads
PROTAGONIST: Web Goodline
SETTING: LA
SERIES: Standalone
RATING: 4.5

At first glance, Web Goodline appears to be the quintessential slacker. He's been sponging off his friend, Chev, who runs a tattoo parlor. Web contributes to the arrangement by doing domestic duties. However, Chev's patience is running out; and Web needs to find a job. At one time, he was an elementary school teacher; due to a traumatic incident, he cannot return to that life. The reality is that Web is suffering from Post Traumati
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Mykle
Apr 21, 2010 Mykle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book combines an unbeatable and scrupulously-researched concept -- noir fiction about the people who clean up dead bodies! -- with an intricately structured crime story -- needy femme fatale draws hero into dangerous smuggling operation, and is then kidnapped! -- and a colorful cast of characters -- Chinese-American kung-fu father figure who is morbidly obese! -- and the whole thing screams I COULDN'T SELL THIS AS A SCREENPLAY SO I FIGURED I'D JUST WRITE IT AS A BOOK AND LICENSE THE FILM RI ...more
Anna  (Bananas!)
Aug 23, 2012 Anna (Bananas!) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
One of my favorite authors. His books are hilarious and a fun ride start to finish, while still managing to pull an emotional response from me every time. Mystic Arts is a stand alone and it features another lead character who does not know when to SHUT THE HELL UP. I can't tell you how many times I've cringed as one of Huston's characters runs off at the mouth, because I know what's coming next. Violence. He doesn't go easy on his smart asses, I'll give him that.

Mystic arts focuses on Webster,
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KarenC
Apr 29, 2010 KarenC rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to KarenC by: Edgar award nomination

Wasn't sure I'd even try to finish, but since it was nominated for an Edgar kept thinking it might get better. I watch all of CSI shows, so the descriptions of most of the blood & gore didn't bother me; the roaches on the other hand! but that was only one part. The constant use of "f@#!" got to me and unlike other reviewers I didn't see the humor in using foul language. Mostly it just seemed like sophomoric filler.

I'd characterize this as a psychological study of someone recovering from PTS

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Charlie Huston is an American author of Noircrime fiction. However, according to a recent interview with Paradigm, he prefers to be classified as a writer of Pulp, due to how he writes.
More about Charlie Huston...

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