One reason I love books by Christopher Moore is that they are always surprising and funny, and often they are so surprisingly funny that they make me howl with laughter.
This is one of those books. It is a bit tough to recommend it to just anyone because it is decidedly odd, and I think it's the kind of book that either you get or you don't. And if you get it, you will laugh. Hard. Who else could write a book dealing with grief and terminal illness and have it be touching and hilarious?
I recommended it to a children's librarian I work with - she rarely reads anything that's not for kids, but I could tell that, with her sense of humor, she would love it. She was so skeptical. I could tell she didn't want to take it, but I pushed the book into her hands and begged her to give it just a chapter or two. She even tried not to like it, I think, but when she got to the hellhounds, it was all over, and she was hooked. Heh heh.
With each book of Christopher Moore's I read, I think, "This is his best one yet!" And this is his best one yet. I hate to give too much away, but the plotline involves a couple of bodyguard hellhounds (named Alvin and Mohammed), the morrigans (from Irish mythology), a little girl with a rather...interesting... ability, and the main character's discovery that Death has a bunch of assistants (akin to the department store Santas -- death's little helpers?), and he has just joined their ranks -- whether he wants to or not.
I also recommended A Dirty Job to a library patron, and several weeks later she came back to the reference desk and told me that her mother had recently died, and somehow an article of jewelry that her mother had always worn had gone missing. She and her brothers and sisters were at a complete loss as to where it could be. It had evidently vanished when she died. This patron kept thinking about the book and the soul objects and just grinning about it all, and she bought copies of the book for all her family members, and she said it really helped get them all through a really tough time.
To paraphrase Homer Simpson: Books -- is there anything they can't do?
A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore (William Morrow, 2006)