All the signs suggest that Charlie Huston is the next big thing. Besides a popular series about a vampire private eye and one about a down-and-out hit man, he's written a recent run of the Moon Knight comic book. And after all that pulp success this new novel, Mystic Arts, is getting a big publicity push and considerable media attention. This book is my personal introduction to him and it's easy to see what all the kerfuffle is about. As befits a genre author, his writing invokes memories of the noir master Jim Thompson but leavened with the humor of Charles Willeford and Donald E. Westlake, with the dialogue chops of Elmore Leonard thrown in to complete the package. Heady company, eh?
When the story opens, Webster Fillmore Goodhue seems like just another slacker, lazing about his friend Chev's tattoo parlor, engrossed in graphic horror film magazines, chasing away the trade with his cutting comments. Even Chev is tired of dealing with his sarcasm and threatening to toss him out of their apartment unless he at least comes up with some rent money. But the story takes a quick turn when Web goes to work for Po Sin, an enormous Chinese-American friend who has a company that cleans up crime scenes.
A recent Samuel L. Jackson/Ed Harris film, Cleaner, played this sort of story as straight noir and, sure enough, Web is soon involved in a convoluted plot involving a beautiful young woman he meets while scrubbing away signs of her father's suicide. Turns out she and her half brother are in some trouble because of his half-baked scheme to make some quick money to fund his nascent film-producing carrer. Suffice it to say that this plotline involves a truckload of almonds and a cold-blooded killer cowboy, who commits one murder with Chev's phone.
Meanwhile, Web gets caught in the middle of a burgeoning turf war between Po Sin and a crime scene cleaning rival. He also has to navigate his way between and around his hippie mother and his former screen-writer father, who's descended into alcoholic misanthropy after watching Hollywood butcher his great American novel and killing Chev's parents in a car accident.
But wait, there's more! While Web is initially a hard character to like--he's just too brutal and ungrateful to those around him who clearly love and want to help him--it is gradually revealed that there's a tragedy in his own past that has left him this disassociated. He's basically suffering from PTSD.
If that description doesn't lead you to expect the feel-good story of the year, it surely is a dark tale. But what Mr. Huston does with it is a wonder to behold and his artistry with gore and profanity is positively Tarantinoesque. It's not a book for the weak of stomach or the prude and you may not want to read on an empty stomach, but it is laugh out loud funny and hits its stride as Web starts to pull himself together. We're certain to see these characters again and I look forward to it.
-AUTHOR SITE: Pulp Noir
-FREE E-BOOKS: by Charlie Huston
-EXCERPT: Chapter One of Mystic Arts
-WIKIPEDIA: Charlie Huston
-INTERVIEW: Charlie in Charge (Anthony Rainone, January Magazine)
-INTERVIEW: with Charlie Huston (Paul Fuhr, Paradigm)
The name of your website is "pulp noir." What is it?
-INTERVIEW: Interrogating Charlie Huston - Author of “Mystic Arts” (Professor Plum, 2/22/09, Crime Critics)
-INTERVIEW: Charlie Huston (Rob Bedford, 2006-01-27, SFF World)
-PODCAST: Charlie Huston is most recently the author of The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death (Bat Segundo Show #267, 2/27/09)
-PODCAST: Charlie Huston (The Bat Segundo Show #98.)
-INTERVIEW: with Charlie Huston (Comic Book Resources, Mar 25, 2007)
-INTERVIEW: An Interview With Charlie Huston, Author of The Shotgun Rule (Scott Butki, October 03, 2007, BlogCritics)
-REVIEW: of The Mystic Arts of Removing All Signs of Death by Charluie Huston (Patrick Anderson, Washington Post)
-REVIEW: of Mystic Arts (Rege Behe, Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW)
-REVIEW: of Mystic Arts (Janet Maslin, NY Times)
-REVIEW: of Mystic Arts (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of Mystic Arts (JOY TIPPING / The Dallas Morning News)
-REVIEW: of Mystic Arts (Robin Vidimos Special to The Denver Post)
-REVIEW: of Mystic Signs ( Lindsey Losnedahl, Las Vegas Review-Journal)
-REVIEW: of Mystic Arts (Richard Rayner, LA Times)
-REVIEW: of Mystic Arts (Bookmarks)
-REVIEW: of Mystic Arts (Professor Plum, CrimeCritics
-REVIEW: of Mystic Arts (Lorri Amsden, Poisoned Fiction)
-REVIEW: of Mystic Arts (Lynda Lippin, BlogCritics)
-REVIEW: of Every Last Drop by Charlie Huston (SF Signal)
-REVIEW: of Half the Blood of Brooklyn by Charlie Huston (2007) (Marc Bernardin, Entertainment Weekly)
-REVIEW: of The Shotgun Rule by Charlie Huston (2007) (Ken Tucker. Entertainment Weekly)
-REVIEW: of No Dominion by Charlie Huston (2006) (Marc Bernardin, Entertainment Weekly)
-REVIEW: of No Dominion ( Jennifer McCann, SF Site)
-REVIEW: of Already Dead (Gilbert Cruz, Entertainment Weekly)
-REVIEW: of Six Bad Things by Charlie Huston (2005) (Tim Stack, Entertainment Weekly)
-REVIEW: of Caught Stealing by Charlie Huston (2004) (Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly)
-REVIEW: of Caught Stealing (Publisher's Weekly)
-REVIEW: of Caught Stealing (Anthony Rainone, January Magazine)
-REVIEW ARCHIVES: Charlie Huston (Entertainment Weekly)
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