The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston
Something that was evident while reading Charlie Huston's newest novel was how it initially resembled his first, Caught Stealing. There's Huston's use of dialogue, short descriptions, humour, crime and engaging first-person narrator. The main difference, after writing seven novels between his first and latest, is that Huston has refined his style. It's much stronger, as would be expected, and reads more original. The clunkiness of expository dialogue is gone along with the muddiness of action scenes.
The title of this novel includes the word "mystic" but every aspect is believable. You want to believe Web Goodhue is a real person in Los Angeles, and Huston never gives a reason not to. There's also an aspect to this noir story that pushes it beyond the mere surface of character relationships. And Huston pulls that off without appearing artificial too.
Is it really that great a compliment to say an author's ninth novel is better than his first? No, but it's Huston's ninth novel that makes me want to read the ones before it and his tenth.