From a random review:

Get new posts by email:

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Navigate the site:
Click here for a complete list of books reviewed or select below:
Search the site:
The ratings:
5 stars  excellent
4 stars  very good
3 stars  good
2 stars  fair
1 stars  poor

Blog stats:

About the blogger:
Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)





Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



Klima, Jeff: The Dead Janitors Club

  Amazon  

4 stars

It's not something I'd thought of before, but when somebody dies in untidy circumstances--when a body explodes on the pavement after its owner jumps from a balcony, or if a corpse lies undiscovered for weeks in a hot apartment--somebody's got to clean up the mess. Jeff Klima's The Dead Janitors Club is an account of the time he worked as a crime scene cleaner in Southern California. The company Klima worked for was a sleazy one whose employees were untrained. They regularly dealt with biohazardous waste irresponsibly, cheated people when they could, and stole as much as they could get away with. Klima himself was irresponsible, and not only at work, living as a sort of boy-man in a college frat well past his sell-by date. We are to believe that by the end of the book he is a changed man (the result of a health scare)--that he has renounced his earlier lack of professionalism and his insensitivity to the bereaved--but the redemption angle of the story feels tacked on to me and not terribly credible.

What one takes away from the book, however, is not the redemption story or the sleazy company story but the fact that crime scenes can be really, really disgusting, and cleaning them up is a dirty business. Klima does a lovely job of conveying just how awful the task can be. Here he is describing what remained after a woman killed herself in a bathtub:

"A person, for all the different smells we give off, is really no different when dead than the average piece of meat. If you soak a dead person long enough, say in a bathtub full of once hot water, he or she, too, will fall off the bone.

"The thin patches plastered to the ground were wide strips of the dead woman's skin that, saturated with water, had fallen off her corpse when the paramedics removed her from the bathub. On the floor, under the heat of day in a house resembling a pressure cooker, the water had evaporated and the flesh had sealed, airtight, to the old tile. It looked as if someone had skinned a basketball and each piece had come off in large, smooth hunks."

Here's what became of the body of a grandmother who died on a chaise longue:

"She was evidently a big woman as well, because surrounding the legs of the chair and pooling outward into a corner of the room was a congealed lake of salty, mustard-yellow fat, a puddinglike skin thick across its surface. I'd never seen anything like it. Getting down on my hands and knees to simply be closer to it, I surmised that it was about two inches deep at its thickest point."

The book is full of such tantalizingly repulsive passages. It is also quite politically incorrect. And if there are any potential readers out there who are fine with cultural insensitivity and pools of mustard-yellow grandma fat but draw the line at cussing, well, this isn't the book for you.

Klima is an interesting guy. According to his author bio, in fact, he is "a devilishly handsome jack-of-all-trades who makes love like a banshee." Which is impressive. I'm not sure that I like him, to tell you the truth, but I like his writing. The book, though, like some of the corpses described therein, is a bit bloated: knock out the frat stuff--who cares?--and a few of the crime scenes and you'd have a tighter, better read.

Comments

1.

The Dead Janitors Club looks cool. Gonna buy one. This book is my type :)

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In