Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

9 Nov

 First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
St. Martin’s Press (Feb. 2011)
Hardback: $22.99; ebook: $9.99; Mass Market: $7.99
ISBN: 9780312662752

Favorite Lines: “I could think of nothing else but the utter sensuality of this perfect being.” (p. 74)

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 a supernatural mystery told from the first person point of view. The reader discovers information at the same time as the heroine, Charley, who is telling the story. Currently there are two books in the Charley Davidson series published, as well as a novella. Book three, Third Grave Dead Ahead, will be released in February 2012.

What you need to know about the heroine: Charley is a silly woman. Her boobs have names–Danger and Will Robinson. She has a wicked sense of humor that she wields as a weapon. Her reasons for doing so become clear as she reminisces about her family and past. In a way, she reminds me of Sookie Stackhouse.

Why? She gets her ass kicked often in the story. She has a good heart, is so attractive that men seem to flock to her and has a nose for danger. She wants to help everyone, but she also wants to learn about herself. Charley already knows that she is a grim reaper. She knows that dead people are able to leave the living plane of life by crossing through her. There are many things that she doesn’t understand and some of them revolve around a teenager who made a major impact in her life.

That teenager is now a grown man and Charley is determined to find him. The information she discovers is heartbreak worthy and makes me want the man he has become. The drama all leads up to a major revelation which will rock the foundation of everything Charley has ever known. While Charley learns about her mystery man, she is working a triple homicide case and concluding a private investigation involving an abused woman. Her life is constantly in danger, but she somehow seems to always survive.

The mystery aspects of the story are well written and have been interwoven with plots surrounding Charlie’s personal life. Each plot device distract from the other just enough to convincingly muddy the waters and prevent the reader from discovering too much or becoming irritated with any one direction the story is likely to take. I learned information at a steady pace and never felt the need to skip ahead or skim pages. I wanted to know what happened and it was a pleasure to read it as it unfolded.

However, there were a few things that worked my nerves. Several sentences and facts are reiterated too often. I get that the heroine likes to give nasty stares at people who work her nerves or to get a reaction out of people. But I don’t need to keep reading  “death stare.” And the heroine seemed to take a ton of showers. Those are minor irritations, though, and did little to impact my enjoyment of the book.

If you’re looking for a book about a private investigator with sex appeal and the ability to see the dead, First Grave on the Right is the book for you.


One Response to “Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones”


  1. Review: Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones « Scooper Speaks - December 1, 2011

    […] one thinking you’ll start the series with book two. While the story recaps the highlights of First Grave on the Right, it in no way is a substitute for it. We learn about Charley, her family and friends, her love […]

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