I can't quite put my finger on it, but I think there's something about making your hero a self-avowed and proud-of-it slacker that's an instant turn-off for me. Instead of conforming comfortably into Joseph Campbell's hero arc, or partaking in the ridiculous humor of his situations, I found myself reading Charlie Huston's 'The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death: A Novel', brooding, wishing the "hero" would grow up a little, and get exasperated with his bad attitude. Not a good place to start.
Charlie Huston has written better books, more enthralling books. In fact, every book that I've read of his prior to this one -- seven, the three Hank Thompson series and four Joe Pitt books (going to dig into book five eagerly soon!) -- was better. This story seemed a little too cute for me, a little watered down compared to his other pulp noir works, and just a little too mainstream. That sounds a little strange about a book where its main character makes his business cleaning up gruesome crime scenes. In those areas, the book is interesting, engaging, and amusingly gory, true to Charlie-form. And if you take this book by itself, I think it was good, just good, but not really representative of what Charlie can do. Anyone else, I would give this book a B+, but Charlie gets a B-, because as my favorite 'student', I know he can do better.