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The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  3,477 ratings  ·  428 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.

Kindle Edition, 310 pages
Published (first published December 24th 2008)
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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
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
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

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
Amy Corwin
"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
Jul 06, 2014 Ladiibbug rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No One!!!!
1/2 a star is being generous


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
Nov 29, 2013 Katy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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.
James Glass
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
MSJ (Sarah)
Dec 06, 2013 MSJ (Sarah) rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MSJ (Sarah) 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

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
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
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

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

Jun 30, 2009 Jeffrey rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Terri Light
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
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
what mike reynolds said.
Huston, Charlie. THE MYSTIC ARTS OF ERASING ALL SIGNS OF DEATH. (2009). ***. Somewhere in this book, there’s a plot. It could probably be written – in outline form – on one page. When the author drags it out for 319 pages, it gets a little tiring. The style reminds me of Truman Capote’s comment on the writings of Jack Kerouac: “That’s not writing; that’s typing.” The story: A young man, Web (short for Webster), a former elementary school teacher, has been loafing for over a year. He has been tra ...more
Michelle L
Had anyone told me even a week ago that I would not only read, but avidly read a basically noir tale of today's slacker and off-the-moral-road California I would have raised my eyebrow and curled my lip. However, Charlie Huston has pulled off a spectacularly engaging caper.

The author also has a very distinct narrative style, both on the page and in the ear that is itself a major force in the huge entertainment level. This despite the inclusion of four-letter language and deeply specific descrip
SERIES: Standalone

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
Anna  (Bananas!)
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,
It takes a lot to be part of Los Angeles’s crime scene time, in other words a strong stomach. This is one thing that new to the crime team, Web Goodhue doesn’t have. Web tries to tough it out as he really needs the job. Web gets approached by a woman who needs Web’s help to clean up a mess.

I so wanted to read The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death after reading the summary. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed with this book. I didn’t even finish the book. In fact I started it and after
May 07, 2010 KarenC rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  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

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
Charlie Huston writes light and fluffy, entertaining crime stories. They're usually dark, usually involve an interesting element (vampires, baseball, etc) and usually exit your memory the second you finish the final sentence. I've enjoyed four or five of his previous novels, but I couldn't tell you the name of a single character. Which is weird, because Huston usually goes out of his way to slap every single character with a weird trait (stolen kidney, vampire....). Problem is, you tend to remem ...more
Sasha Gusev
Let's be honest, the best part about this book is the title. Huston writes like Palahniuk if Palahniuk actually cared about his characters - no "transgressive" anarchy here, but plenty of the usual gore and sex and violence. And like Palahniuk he's perfect for a long flight: the story is digestible, a page-turner, and it reads like something seriously worth your time. Until the ending, that is, when you land and realize that it was all just a set-up for an author who wants to say a lot but reall ...more
Antonia Crane
"The Mystic Arts" is a funny, dark plot-driven book with snappy, clean dialogue and a great characters. It drew me in right away with the scene in the piercing shop with the two friends who are more brothers: Web and Chev.
Soon, we learn that Web's Dad killed Chev's parents in a drunk driving accident and they are both fucked up. We meet Web's father, a disintegrating alcoholic intellectual and can't help but like him. This is just the back drop of a truly twisted plot.

Web gets a job cleaning u
Take Toby Barlow's "Sharp Teeth," substitute his werewolves and gangs and free-verse for bumbling semi-criminals and turf wars and lack of quotation marks, respectively, and you've got "The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death" -- kind of. Only, I loved loved loved Sharp Teeth, which also took place in LA, but this one I just feel "meh" about. Maybe it's just because this is not the sort of book I'd normally read, but it was recommended to me by two different sources, so I took a stab at it ...more
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Pulp Fiction: December 2013 - The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death 22 60 Jan 08, 2014 06:35PM  
Thriller/Crime/Mystery 5 40 Jan 01, 2014 02:42AM  
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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...
Already Dead (Joe Pitt, #1) Caught Stealing (Hank Thompson, #1) No Dominion (Joe Pitt, #2) Half the Blood of Brooklyn (Joe Pitt, #3) Six Bad Things (Hank Thompson #2)

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