My first encounter with Christopher Moore but not my last. Pretty consistently funny throughout, and I often find comedy wears thin after a while. In this gothic comedy (if that's a subgenre), a doofus--Moore's label of choice is "beta male"--a nice guy who's normally passive, nerdy, kind of hypochondriacal, not a little naive--accidentally becomes Death, or, rather, one among many agents or "death merchants" whose job it is to collect the "soul vessels" of the newly dead or about-to-die, i.e. personal objects that have become the receptacles for their souls. All the death merchants happen to also own second-hand stores of some kind, so they resell the vessels to living but soulless people--lots of those wandering the streets of urban America, apparently (or San Francisco, where this novel is set). The "job" suggests all sorts of comic situations, of course, like the about-to-be-murdered trophy mistress whose soul vessel turns out to be her breast implants (Charlie knows what to collect because the objects glow red).
But Moore doesn't dwell on this soul-vessel stuff, which would soon get tiresome, but throws in all sorts of silliness (e.g. the "Squirrel People"--don't ask; read the book), memorable characters (e.g. Charlie's teenaged goth employee Lily, and Minty Fresh, a 7-foot black death merchant who wears only pale green suits), plot twists, and even provocative ponderings on death and mourning. One quibble: the ethnic stereotypes can get annoying: Mrs. Ling, Charlie's Chinese neighbor, will turn any animal she gets her hands on into dinner; funnier and less offensive, his Russian neighbor adds the simile "like bear" to everything she says.