Monday, August 10, 2015

Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore

Title: Secondhand Souls
Author: Christopher Moore
Harper Collins
Release Date: August 25, 2014
Rating: 4/5

The Gist:
In San Francisco, the souls of the dead are mysteriously disappearing—and you know that can't be good—in New York Times bestselling author Christopher Moore's delightfully funny sequel to A Dirty Job.

Something really strange is happening in the City by the Bay. People are dying, but their souls are not being collected. Someone—or something—is stealing them and no one knows where they are going, or why, but it has something to do with that big orange bridge. Death Merchant Charlie Asher is just as flummoxed as everyone else. He's trapped in the body of a fourteen-inch-tall "meat" waiting for his Buddhist nun girlfriend, Audrey, to find him a suitable new body to play host.

To get to the bottom of this abomination, a motley crew of heroes will band together: the seven-foot-tall death merchant Minty Fresh; retired policeman turned bookseller Alphonse Rivera; the Emperor of San Francisco and his dogs, Bummer and Lazarus; and Lily, the former Goth girl. Now if only they can get little Sophie to stop babbling about the coming battle for the very soul of humankind...

I was so incredibly excited when I saw this book was up for review.  I am a big Christopher Moore fan and Dirty Job was the first of his books that I ever read (I fell completely in love after I discovered the cover glowed in the dark).  The story stayed with me and I always wondered whatever became of the little girl who was the big bad death.  Secondhand Souls picks up about a year after the first.  All has been quiet on the soul collecting front, Charlie remains stuck in the body Audrey created for him, Sophie continues to think he is dead and the death merchants persist in their trade - except when they don't.  As the forces of darkness rally behind a new leader, those on the side of good must once again pick up their sword-canes and fight for the the souls of San Fransisco.

Secondhand Souls has everything that makes Moore fans keep coming back: dark and dirty humor, madcap adventure and just a touch of depravity.  The plot was occasionally bogged down with diatribes about Buddhism and the state of the soul but otherwise moved quickly, especially once the main characters were brought back together.  There were unexpected twists and turns sprinkled liberally throughout the plot and I particularly enjoyed watching the Squirrel People reach further depths of creepydom. 

I was a little disappointed in how little there were of the things that made me giggle in the first book, namely, Sophie (and her potty mouth), the grandmothers (with personalities big, like bear) and the indestructible and irreplaceable Goggies.  I loved checking in on my favorite characters once more, but I wasn't all that interested in the newer characters.  The expanded cast made it difficult for any one or two characters to truly shine.  It also wasn't quite as funny as the first.  It was still humorous, but often left me smiling rather than guffawing as I had reading Dirty Job

Bottom Line: Secondhand Souls is a fun read and a great addition to the Christopher Moore library, though if you are a first time reader you might want to jump into Dirty Job or Lamb first. 


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