Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #1)
February 1 2011
St. Martin’s Press
Kick Ass Chick – Charley Davidson
A smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper.
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.
This book is another example of how other book bloggers easily get me to buy books that I would not necessarily have known about. Many of my trusted ‘go-to’ bloggers just loved this book. I read their reviews and followed their tweets about it. And after all that, there was no question I just had to read it to. So I bought it…and here we are.
First Grave to the Right is Darynda Jones’ debut in the world of Urban Fantasy, and it’s a strong one. The story basically consists of three mysteries told in one story. We have the “What and Who is Reyes?” mystery, we have the “Why are there three dead lawyers?” mystery and we have “We know Charley is the grim reaper but what exactly does that mean?” mystery. You would think that with so many unanswered bits mashed into one book things would get kind of confusing along the way. But Darynda does a wonderful job keeping everything straight and clear. If I could only say one thing about this book, it would be that it is incredibly well-woven!
Before reading this book, I knew that the main heroine, Charley, was the grim reaper but I really didn’t know much other than that. I was glad to see that she is not some creepy chick walking around in a flowing black robe and carrying a sharp weapon. That is reserved for another character…and that is all I’m going to say about that. Charley is a PI and a police ‘consultant’ who has an incredible success record because she has the advantage of being able to communicate with the ghosts of the victims. Essentially, her job is to help souls find peace so they can move on. I liked how the grim reaper aspect of this story played out, and I liked that there seems to be more to learn about it.
Charley was a character that, when read surface only, can come across as flighty and snarky. Well, okay, she is those things, but there is much more there. She is a woman who has this odd ‘job’ and who is alone in doing it. She has trouble finding people who she can trust to stick around once they truly find out about her. I found that she was a lost and pretty lonely soul. And how does she cope? With her sharp wit and sarcastic humor. Some of Charley’s lines were wonderfully funny and made me giggle out loud. Overall, I found Charley to be nicely layered. We’ve only just begun finding out about her. Thank goodness there are more books planned.
Reyes was quite the presence in this book. Sometimes scary, sometimes really sexy, we don’t find out real details about him until the very end. And even then…well, let’s just say it again. Thank goodness there are more books planned.
I enjoyed all of the characters in this book. From the friends to the police officers to the family members, I found them all to be well written and well placed in the story. Did I like all of them? No. Some I wanted to smack. But that just shows that Darynda knows what she’s doing.
First Grave on the Right was a strong first book by a talented author in a very promising series. Book two, Second Grave on the Left, is hitting shelved August 16th 2011. Book three, Third Grave Dead Ahead, is due out February 2nd 2012.
Giggle worthy quotes
“I stopped and turned toward him. ‘What did you day?’
‘Um, you look hot?’
‘Let me ask you something,’ I said, easing closer. He took a wary step back. ‘When you were alive, like, five minutes ago, would you have told some thick you’d just met that she looked hot?’
He thought about that a moment, then answered, ‘No. My wife would divorce me.’
‘Then why is it the moment you guys die, you think you can say whatever you want to whomever you want?’
He thought about that a moment, too. ‘Because my wife can’t hear me?’”
“Only a twelve-year-old could make the word mom sound blasphemous.”