Darynda Jones comes to the blog with her debut novel in her Charley Davidson series, a clever mix of mystery / paranormal / snarky humor series, and with the thirteenth and final book on the series coming in January of next year, the opportunity to check this out was too good.
First Grave on the Right
Meet Charlotte Davidson, aka Charley: a PI with a father and uncle who are both cops, a mouth that doesn’t quit and oh, she sees dead people. Well, not just sees them, but helps them to ‘pass over’ because she is THE Grim Reaper. Apparently, a far different thing than the cloaked and hooded image we all know – she’s bright and sparkly, irreverent and wholly conflicted about her purpose in life – a purpose that she was given at birth, but has struggled with unanswered questions, a dismissive stepmother and some pretty strong reactions from almost everyone who has experienced what she is. Jones sets up the introduction to this character, and others that will become important, with a fairly conversational tone: Charley is first explaining who she is, then taking us along for the ride as she tries to puzzle out the correct answers. With a recurrent ‘visitor’ in the form of shadows, yet seeming to have a sort of ‘protective’ instinct toward her, well, when they aren’t burning up the sheets, the ‘what everyone is capable of” questions come fast and furiously. But this is a story of how three lawyers from the same firm, all murdered on the same night are tied to a sex trafficking ring, and just how their deaths will convict a mob boss, free a wrongly convicted man and provide Charley with plenty of new worries, particularly where her own purpose, failures and dangers are concerned.
I’ll be honest and say that the story is twisty, funny and wholly different – with a snarky sense of humor and some clever quotes to begin each chapter. The connections that bring everything together, and the quiet ways in which Charley helps the recently departed get their last words / thoughts / tasks on earth completed are clever. But don’t get it twisted, she’s not simply willing to ‘tell the living’ what’s needed, she’s not some sort of mail delivery service or medium. In fact, even she’s not quite aware of all of her abilities or purpose – which makes her even more endearing. With her lovely PA Cookie, who, I have to admit, is far more accepting of all that she is learning – and wholly devoted to Charley and keeping her safe: a challenge most (if not every day). I loved the unfolding of the skills, characters and plot of this, as well as the new backstories and creation histories for Charley, her skills, and even the connection between she and Reyes, and the constant thread of danger and more questions he brings up. It’s a world that, while stretching the boundaries of imagination grabs attention and feels plausible, even in the most ridiculous moments.
What I enjoyed most is the humorous voice of Charley’s narrative: she’s snarky, a bit sarcastic on a good day, curious and utterly bad-ass, even when she’s ‘pretending’ her way through it. This is a character and writing style that would most closely appeal to fans of MaryJanice Davidson and Molly Harper, as long as you are aware that Charley’s stories are very much adult-oriented, with plenty of sexy and steamy moments that manage to heat the pages, corporeal or not. I’m excited to follow this journey with Charley, and hope to find more answers about her abilities, her future with Reyes, and to see if the city of Albuquerque’s police force will finally see what a gem they have in this spunky PI. Well, the police with the exception of her Uncle Bob, her Dad and the skip-tracing guru Garrett.
Title: First Grave on the Right
Author: Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson #1
Also in this series: Second Grave on the Left, Third Grave Dead Ahead, Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet
Genre: 18+ Read, Contemporary Paranormal Mystery, Ghosts, Humor elements, Murder, Paranormal, Romantic Elements, Suspense Elements
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Published on: 29 November, 2011
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 8 Hours: 58 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible ♦Direct from Publisher
This whole grim reaper thing should have come with a manual.
Or a diagram of some kind.
A flow chart would have been nice.
Charley Davidson is a part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper. Meaning, she sees dead people. Really. And it's her job to convince them to "go into the light." But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (like murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she's been having about an entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely. But what does he want with Charley? And why can't she seem to resist him? And what does she have to lose by giving in?
First Grave on the Right is the winner of the 2012 Rita Award for Best First Book.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: