Series: Charley Davidson #1
Published by Macmillan on February 1st 2011
Amazon, Barnes & Noble
First Grave on the Right is the 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 is a thrilling debut novel from Darynda Jones, an exciting newcomer to the world of paranormal romantic suspense.First Grave on the Right is the winner of the 2012 Rita Award for Best First Book.
No matter how many great things I heard about this series, and there were a lot, I resisted reading it because I was positive I read this first book years ago and didn’t like it. I finally broke down because there have been plenty of books I’ve disliked at first, then liked later, so I thought I’d give it another go. I don’t know what that book I read years ago was, but it wasn’t this one. Actually, I have a few ideas about what that book might have been, but nothing solid. What matters is that it wasn’t this one. This one was so much fun.
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?
This book was a lot of fun. I mean, look at that cover. Those shoes! How could this book not be a blast? Charley is snarky and funny, two things I really like in a paranormal romance heroine. But she’s not super-hard, bullet-proof, or infallible, either. She doesn’t let people walk all over her, she says what she means, and she takes no shit. She’s named her breasts (Danger and Will Robinson), and says she’s named her ovaries, too, but I don’t think we get their names. But it’s possible that we did and I’m just blanking on them. That’s the problem with trying to review an audiobook; I lose my ability to take notes and find details like that.
I really like stories where someone with some paranormal ability – be it mind-reading, visions, empathy, or seeing ghosts – helps cops with cases. Especially when the world building doesn’t include the rest of the world knowing about it. If the world building involves the paranormals or supernaturals already being out, it’s not as much fun for me. I don’t know why. Something about a cop choosing to go outside of his or her preset comfort zone and the sneakiness of it is enjoyable to me. I also like the mix of the worlds. Charley’s uncle is a cop. He knows what she can do, and he uses her to help him with his cases. There’s another PI – Garrett – poking around the case who doesn’t buy into Charley’s abilities at all in the beginning, but by the end, I think he’s not only coming around, but also has a little bit of a crush on her.
The mystery she’s helping her uncle with in this one – who killed three lawyers at the same time and why – while fine, was more formulaic and less fun for me than just spending time with Charley. She’s the kind of character who makes me sad that she’s not real, because I really want to hang out with her, a bottle of wine, and some Thai food, and just make a night of it. Both her and Cookie, her next door neighbor/best friend/assistant. Charley describes Cookie as similar to Kramer from Seinfeld, and it seems an apt description. Cookie is constantly showing up at Charley’s, sticking her nose into everything, and generally being a nuisance. But in a fun way. There wasn’t anyone in this book I didn’t like. I thought this was a lot of fun, and a great beginning to a fun series. I can’t wait to read more of Charley.