Review: Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #3)
January 31 2012
St. Martin’s Press
Kick Ass Chick – Charlotte “Charley” Davidson
From Goodreads –
Charley Davidson—grim reaper extraordinaire, private investigator . . . meh—is practicing her profession under the influence, caffeine and copious amounts of it, due to an extreme desire to induce insomnia. Every time she closes her eyes, Reyes Farrow, the part-human, part-supermodel son of Satan, is there. Only thing is, he’s a tad peeved. She did bind him for all eternity, so it’s hard blame him. But 13 days without a wink is bound to bring out the crazy in a girl. So, when a man hires her to find his wife, Charley accepts the job with one goal in mind: Put the man behind bars, and not the wet kind. She can sense the guilt waft off him and vows to find the woman’s body and prove he’s a murderer.
In the meantime, Reyes is back in prison and none too happy about it . . . so Charley thinks, until she is carjacked by the dark-haired rake, who swears the very man he went to prison for killing is not only alive, but close by. And he wants Charley to find him.
While a visit to her old friend Rocket sheds no light on Reyes’s situation, Charley finds out the man’s wife is still alive and time is running out. Finding her before she dies would be a miracle, but she has to try. Together with the help of a fashion-impaired receptionist named Cookie, Charley sets out to bring the bad guys to justice. She just hopes Reyes is not one of them. And that she’s not hallucinating from her self-induced bout with insomnia.
This right here, my review for Third Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones, is turning out to be one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever had to write. Not because I was sorely disappointed in the book but because it was such a fan-freakin’-tastic read I am afraid I won’t be able to put into words how much I enjoyed it! I mean, I want to go and find the highest hill in my area, climb on top of it and shout to everyone about how fan-freakin’-tastic this book is! This entire series for that matter. It’s just brilliant. Simply brilliant.
Charley Davidson is a PI. She also happens to be the Grim Reaper. No big robes or anything, she just helps guide people to the light if they don’t find their way on their own. Because of this ‘other’ job, she can see and communicate with spirits. That is a handy dandy trick when you are a PI trying to find missing people. She is written so well, I am totally putting her on my favorite characters list when I have a chance. She is that awesome. One of the things I like so much about Charley is her humor. She is one of the funniest characters I have ever read. Yet even though she makes you laugh out loud at some of her dialogue and thoughts, she is so much more than a funny lady. She’s smart and clever and has such heart. She is a very well rounded character and if you have yet to meet her you have to have to have to.
Reyes is well, I suppose he is the main love interest but he is also the basis for the ongoing storyline that goes through each book of the series to date. This time around, he’s a bit of a jerk but I still want to lick him all over. Yes, I keep saying that. There is a reason people. Reyes is sex on a stick. Whatever that means. But he is. Y-U-M. Dark and mysterious, dangerous and sexy… And still a bit of a mystery. Even after three books, we don’t know all there is to know. But we know enough that we’re not driven crazy by what he don’t know. Does that make any sense? See, difficult review to write! Reyes ‘plays’ his role very well in this book. And his ‘role’ changes considerably by the end of this book. I am very anxious to see how his character develops over the next few books.
Quick recap of other characters worth mentioning: Cookie is always great. She is the perfect complement to Charley. Ubie is someone I want to give a big hug to. All the time. He is the rock Charley needs and he does that very well in this installment. Charley’s dad…many curse words came out of my mouth by the end of this book and they were all meant for him. I hope his actions are explained in the next book because, seriously, he’s an ass. Donovan is a new character and I really liked him. Yes, he pretty much comes out of nowhere and what he and Charley do is also pretty much out of nowhere but he works. Gemma is Charley’s sister. In book one she lived on my ‘characters I don’t like and sort of want to stab’ list. In book two, she came around as things were explained. Now I think she’s a good support for Charley. Garrett…oh Garrett. He is funny and smart and…pretty much a male version of Charley. Well, not exactly because that wouldn’t work well at all, but he is fun to read and after the whole ‘Reyes is a bit of a jerk’ feeling coursing through me after reading this book, I am inching towards Team Garrett. If there was a Team Garrett that is. Garrett was the cause of my teary eyes near the end of Third Grave. Such a touching scene and the perfect way to end this book.
On top of the incredible characters, the entertaining mysteries and the overlying storyline, I also love the details that make this series incredible. Mr. Wong, the spirit that stares into the corner of Charley’s apartment, how things are never taken too seriously so your heart won’t keel over, how each chapter starts with a quote from a t-shirt or a bumper sticker (examples of these include “I know karate, and like two other Japanese words” and “If life hands you lemons, keep them. Because, hey, free lemons” and “Sometimes that light at the end of the tunnel is a train”)…tons of little ongoing details that not only bring this series together but that keep you smirking from book to book to book.
There is one ongoing story in this series but each book also has its own mystery. The mysteries are always very well written and interesting to read. Trying to solve them is fun. And even though we have Charley and Reyes and Garrett and mystery and Grim Reaper stuff and and and…it all works! Darynda is a mastermind in her writing and she juggles these multiple points extremely well. You never feel lost or overwhelmed. You just feel giddy because you know you are reading an exceptional book from a fantastic series.
Third Grave Dead Ahead was, for me, the perfect read. It kept me guessing, had me giggling, laughing, crying and smiling. From the opening quote “Death comes to those who wait. And to those who don’t. So either way…” to the last word “Men”, I was glued to the page. And even through my tears, I beamed. I may have even hugged the book a bit when I was finished with it. And I may have threatened (with love) my friends who were ‘going to read it next week or later’ and made them read it now or else. And now that they have read it, they are thanking me profusely. There may be a parade. They all loved it. I wasn’t surprised at all because there really isn’t anything not to love about this book.
It is definitely going to be making an appearance on my Favorite Reads of 2012 list.
Giggle worthy quotes –
“’Oh, my god!’ I said, throwing my hands over my eyes and hurtling my body against the counter.
‘I’m not naked.’
‘You’re not blind. I’m wearing pants.’
‘Oh.’ That was embarrassing.”
“Damn, I loved it when men in uniform studied my eyes. Or my ass. Either way.”
“’As soon as I pulled up to the office, I ran up the stairs to tell Cookie the most incredible think I’d just heard on the radio. I flew through the door and skidded to a halt in front of her desk. ‘Have you heard about Milton Berle’s penis?’
Cookie’s eyes widened and she gestured behind me with a nod.
I turned to see a young nun stand up. She’s apparently been waiting for me.
“’Okay, I’m heading that way. I’ll call if I break a leg or get eaten by a bear.’
‘Play like a rock.’
‘No, if a bear starts eating you.’
I thought a moment before replying. ‘Do they have screaming, sobbing rocks, ’cause that’s probably what I’ll be doing if a bear is gnawing my arm off.’”
This book is also available as an Audio Book. The narrator is superb! Here’s a sample: