Monday, November 7, 2016

Review of "Secondhand Souls" by Christopher Moore



This comic novel is the sequel to "A Dirty Job." As the story opens Charlie Asher - enemy of the forces of darkness who was killed in the last book - now inhabits a makeshift foot-high body made of mismatched animal parts and luncheon meats. Charlie and the other 'Death Merchants' of San Francisco, whose job is to collect souls from the dying and pass them on to new bodies, have been shirking their responsibilities. Thus there are thousands of loose souls in the city, a situation that opens a door to the Underworld and allows weird and murderous creatures to come through.

These deadly creatures include a banshee - who warns of trouble and swipes a stun gun; the Morrigan - a trio of women demons who eat souls to become solid; and Lemon Fresh - an Underworld honcho who favors yellow suits and a yellow car.

The Underworld eruption means that Charlie and his family/friends must once again fight wicked forces that threaten to destroy the world. The first order of business is to get Charlie a human body, which turns out to be Mike Sullivan - a well-built, nice-looking fellow whose job is to paint the Golden Gate Bridge. For various reasons Mike was planning to jump off the bridge anyway....so why not? Other members of Charlie's team include a Buddhist nun, a retired cop, a crisis-center counselor, a homeless man, a book store owner, and others.

Also on hand is Charlie's seven year old potty-mouthed daughter Sophie (who happens to be the 'Great Death' who can kill with a word) and Sophie's two goggies (enormous black hellhounds). Sophie and the 'aunties' and 'grannies' who take care of her are some of the funniest characters in the story. Other entertaining characters are ghosts at the Golden Gate Bridge who have stories to tell and the 'squirrel people' (made of animal parts) that live under the Buddhist center.

All kinds of kooky (and sometimes deadly) occurrences eventually lead to the story's climax, where Charlie's team goes head to head with the Underworld creatures.

Though the story is a sequel it can be read as a standalone. I thought the book was fun and entertaining and I'd highly recommend it to readers who who like off-beat humor and out-of-the-box characters.

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