Not very many of us think about death on a daily basis. Not only is it depressing, but it could end up being self-defeating in a, "what's the point of this, we're all going to die in the end anyway," sort of way. Letting your mind go down that avenue is to invite anxiety and all his buddies over for a long-term visit.
But in Christopher Moore's latest novel, A Dirty Job, Charlie Asher really doesn't have much choice in the matter. First of all, his beloved wife Rachel dies just after giving birth to their first child, and secondly, his new job of retrieving the souls of the newly dead, to keep them safe for their next host, has made death part of his daily routine.
His routine is: get up in the morning, check the daybook for any names that have mysteriously appeared there, go to their homes, retrieve the soul of the recently departed, and take it back to his secondhand store where he will sell it to its next body.
It's not as tricky as it sounds. First, the soul is usually contained in some object that would be sold in a secondhand store: a clock radio, used suit, or even a blender. It doesn't hurt that they also glow bright red, and when he's about the business of soul retrieval most people just don't happen to notice Charlie. He just slips into the house, picks up the object, and takes it back to the store where it waits for its next possessor to come along and buy it.
Of course, as with all cases of death, Charlie's initial reaction to finding out that he was an agent of death was denial. It wasn't untilThe Great Big Book of Death showed up that he truly got a grip on the subject at hand. The 28 glossy illustrated pages boiled it down in a nutshell: he was to retrieve souls, pass them on to their new recipients, and never let them end up in the hands of the Forces of Darkness that are continually waiting to take over the world.