Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Orbit (7 Jun 2007)
For me, Christopher Moore is a buy-on-sight author. He does comic fantasy - sometimes quite dark, as in Practical Demonkeeping - usually set on the US West Coast, frequently (as here) in San Francisco.
Here, Charlie Asher is (by his lights) a success. He's got a beautiful wife, Rachel, who has just given birth to their their child. And then, as he returns to her ward to bring her her Sarah McLachlan CD, he sees a seven foot black guy, dressed (oddly enough) in mint green. And he shouldn't have been able to see that person. And his wife is now dead. And he is devastated, even more so when he discovers that he has become Death. Not the Death, just a Death, you understand. And it's not easy being Death when other forces want to collect those souls that are your responsibility.
This one is delightfully written. That first chapter, with a perfect character portrayal, is just a delight, and it can stand on its own if need be. Later parts, where his daughter Sophie starts to grow up, are wonderful. He's got a sassy assistant - Lily - who develops from angsty Goth teenager to semi-responsible adult (not entirely conventionally so, you understand). And then there are the hellhounds. I was laughing out loud with the hellhounds.
The only worry I have about Moore is that he might become the US equivalent of Tom Holt. But so far, that doesn't seem to be happening.