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Great, giggling gorefest
on 16 March 2009
You have to know what you like to like Huston. Huston is, in my opinion one of the most outstandingly fresh and talented writers of quality working today. But he is a genre within the crime genre, for a rarefied market that appreciates wisecracking, foul mouthed and bloodspattered fiction.
Huston does humour like no one else in the straight crime field. His blistering and caustic characters are all too witty for their own good and the protagonist of 'Mystic Arts...' is no different. Web's mouth works overtime and gets him into all sorts of trouble. He is intelligent, bitingly so and yet, until we understand his backstory, appears something of a wastrel.
But Huston is also a fan of fairly extreme gore in his books and really lets rip with the graphic detail in this story of a Trauma Cleaner...and really, if you know this is the field the book is set in, don't read it and be surprised at extensive descriptions of blood, gray matter and other bodily and insectoid nastiness. The novel opens with a graphic description of a nipple piercing...i'm not squemish but i was curling my toes... but stick with it and the gold is there, once you wipe the gore off its shiny surface.
The story is solid, the characterisation great and the dialogue sublime (if you can cope with oodles of swearing, unconventional punctuation and occassional un-PCness). Web is an out of work teacher suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, resisting all help from his friends to climb out of the black hole of depression. Strange that salvation should come in the form of picking up other peoples suicidal remains then. But come it does, after turf wars amongst trauma cleaning professionals, kidnapping, vanjacking, illegal almond importation and several nasty fights. The story is fast paced and highly engaging.
Not as good as Huston's Hank Thompson trilogy (and really, what could be???)but better than the Shotgun Rule, read it, laugh aloud and squirm with squemishness in equal measure. Recommended.