If you are looking for a gentle cozy to cuddle up with this winter then The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death is not the book for you. Cozy and gentle it ain't; it's tough, bloody, brutal, complex, off-beat, sarcastic, and challenging but never, ever boring. Huston's style here is anything but orthodox and this is not an easy read. The book is 75% dialogue, but no quotation marks are used, making it sometimes difficult to figure out who's speaking. It takes a while to get into the flow of this novel, but once you do, the pleasures are immense, if a bit gory. You get swept up in the story without exactly knowing what's happening or why, but as you read on, it eventually makes wonderful, loony sense.
Plot? Characters? Plenty of both. Web Goodhue, an ex-elementary school teacher, gets a job with a "crime scene cleaning service," a company that goes in after a murder or suicide and cleans up the blood, excrement, and body splatter (i.e. erasing all signs of death). At one job he meets Soledad, a woman to whom he is immediately attracted. When she later turns to Web to clean up a bloody mess caused by her crooked brother, he unwittingly becomes involved in gang warfare, murders, and a non-too-swift truckload of unsavory smugglers. Web remains baffled as he tries to fathom Soledad's connection to a major smuggling operation and even more baffled when he learns that it all concerns a can of almonds--a MacGuffin even Hitchcock would admire. Sound weird? It is! Forget the cozy, grab yourself a stiff drink and settle down for a wild, wonderful, offbeat adventure you'll have a hard time forgetting.