Thursday, October 3, 2013

REVIEW: "First Grave on the Right" by Darynda Jones

First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, #1)
First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
For Ages 18+
Urban Fantasy
St. Martin's Press -- February 1, 2011
Paperback, 338 pages
Purchased from Half-Price Books

Ghosts, Comedy

Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. 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 (i.e. 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.

"I've been having the same dream for the past month--the one where a dark stranger materialized out of smoke and shadow to play doctor with me."

The Charley Davidson series is one of those that I kept meaning to start, but never felt extremely inspired to do so.  I have had First Grave on the Right on my TBR shelf for almost two years!  But, I finally picked it up last month and quickly admonished myself for not starting it sooner.  This series seems to have everything I'm looking for in a paranormal: funny and strong-willed heroine, sexy love interest, plenty of creative world building, and a large cast of quirky characters.

The series story line seems to be (in a nutshell) that Charlotte "Charley" Davidson has difficulty balancing her two jobs: private investigator and grim reaper charged with helping spirits finish their business on Earth and move on.  This particular installment introduces readers to Charley's crazy supernatural world by having her deal with two main mysteries.  One, she is trying to help a trio of recently murdered lawyers complete their attempt to free an innocent man from prison and, two, figure out who the sexy, mystery man that keeps appearing in her dreams is.

I absolutely adored Charley!  She is hilarious, sarcastic, and just full of life which is pretty ironic for being a grim reaper.  To me, she was a mix of Stephanie Plum and Bridget Jones with some Jane Jameson on the side.  I loved the fact that the story was told in first person so readers got to read all the inner monologues that Charley went through on a daily basis.  Besides her sense of humor, I also really liked how devoted Charley was to her job of helping people.  She seemed to genuinely care about the spirits she was working with and wanted to do everything in her power to get them to move on.  Charley is not perfect though and I can see some room for character growth, but I think that works well for a series that has been going on as long as this one has.

Like all my favorite paranormal series, the Charley Davidson books also have a large and detailed cast of characters to help bring both drama and humor to the story lines.  I think my favorite was Charley's best friend and assistant, Cookie, who seems like someone who understands Charley's crazy life and acts as a calming agent for the most part.  Her dry wit made me laugh almost as much as Charley's over-the-top antics.  I also loved that we got to know other members of the Davidson family.  Obviously Charley's father and uncle are big influences in her life and it was great to get so much development about them early on.  And the various spirits that peppered the landscape...they just kept me on my toes from the lawyers mentioned above to the perverted old man who tries to sneak peeks at Charley in the shower to the little girl stalking the police officer to tried to save her life.

And, of course, I have to mention Reyes!  He spends most of this book being a mystery to both Charley and the reader.  All we know about him is that he appears in Charley's dreams and seems to be trying to seduce her.  And he has some type of connection to an event in her past.  While we do get answers to his identity and his purpose in her life, I like how Darynda Jones left the Reyes story line at the end to keep me coming back for more.

Because this is the first in the series, there is quite a bit of background information provided on Charley, her powers, and her world as a whole.  I don't read too much about ghosts so I had a blast with the world building in this book.  I like the premise of a grim reaper that lives and works amongst humans especially since there is obviously so much hidden about Charley's ultimate destiny.  We don't get a ton of information about where spirits go after they pass through Charley, but I have a feeling that we will get to know much more about that in the future.

Overall, I really had a good time reading this book with its frantic, but endearing heroine and plenty of supernatural escapades to keep me turning pages.  Can't wait to read the next in the series soon!


"My fore-parts, as you so ineloquently put it, have names."
I pointed to my right breast. "This is Danger." Then my left. "And this is Will Robinson. I would appreciate it if you addressed them accordingly."
After a long pause in which he took the time to blink several times, he asked, "You named your breasts?"
I turned my back to him with a shrug. "I named my ovaries, too, but they don’t get out as much." 

1. First Grave on the Right
1.5. For I Have Sinned
2. Second Grave on the Left
3. Third Grave Dead Ahead
4. Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet
5. Fifth Grave Past the Light
6. Sixth Grave on the Edge

1 comment:

  1. Ahh same as you I've had this one on my shelf for ages! And just never had that oooo must read thing happening. Sounds like that was definitely a mistake. It really sounds like a lot of fun. Glad you had such a good time with it :)


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