First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, # 1)
By: Darynda Jones
Published: February 1st 2011 by St. Martin's Press
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Humor
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)
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Goodreads description--This whole grim reaper thing should have come with a manual.
Or a diagram of some kind.
A flow chart would have been nice.
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?
With scorching-hot tension and high-octane humor, First Grave on the Right is your signpost to paranormal suspense of the highest order.
When I saw First Grave on the Right available on NetGalley as "read now" I snatched it up. I don't know if I even read the book description. I'd seen high ratings for this series over the years and so I thought it would likely be a given that I would enjoy this book. Yet that was fall of 2017 and I had a newborn. I found throughout the majority of 2017 that Young Adult, Contemporary was the best genre for me at that time because the books were shorter and easier for me to get hooked quickly (as a general rule). So I put off starting this book. Eventually, I picked it up, but I wasn't hooked immediately and put it back down. When I was scrolling through the e-library catalog, I saw that the entire series was available in both ebook and audiobook. I got the audiobook in hopes that I could either listen to the entire book or that it would jump start my interest in the book.
I ended up listening to the first 44% of First Grave on the Right through the audiobook. At first, I was stoked to find that Lorelai King narrates the audiobook. I'm familiar with her through the Stephanie Plum series and love the life she gives to the books she narrates. But I was also a little worried that because I associate Lorelai King exclusively with Stephanie Plum that I might not be able to separate the two series. In the end, that wasn't an issue at all, and listening to the audiobook did exactly what I hoped it would--it sparked my interest and after 44% I was so interested I swapped to the e-galley edition I'd received when I wasn't able to listen to the audio. I ended up finishing the book by reading it myself.
First Grave on the Right was packed with story. So much happened in such a short book. There were pieces that applied to this book only and then much went into setting up things to come as the series progresses. This is exactly what it needs to be in a series like this. Each book needs to have some conflict and plot that's unique to it but also needs to advance to overall series arc. This isn't a book to be taken too seriously or criticized for realism--because it isn't realistic. It's fantasy after all. But that's what made it fun, aside from the witty writing.
Within the individual book Charley solves the murder of three attorneys and gets their client, a man who was sent to jail falsely, released from prison by finding the right murderer. She has a client that she was helping to escape an abusive husband that started before the book began. And in the larger scale, we establish the general and main characters of the series and create some mystery and hints of relationship and emotional conflict that will come into play in future books no doubt.
Charley is a grim reaper, but she's quite different than you might imagine a grim reaper to be. She's almost fearless. She's a magnet for getting beat up or almost killed. But she's capable of handling a lot more pain and damage than you would expect. She's witty and sarcastic, and I love that about her. She's also really great at multitasking.
Reyes...oh Reyes. He's hot in a way that you're not sure you're supposed to find attractive. He's fierce and complicated and quite the mystery that Charley needs to solve. I won't give anything away. Some of his mystery was obvious to me, but not all of it. I'm totally intrigued to see what happens next.
I loved Cookie and Angel, Uncle Bob, and even Garrett. I have a feeling Garrett will play a complicated role in Charley's life and the series. I can't wait to start book 2 and find out more about everyone and what Charley gets into next.
First Grave on the Right ended up being better than I expected. I was thankful the physical scenes weren't too prevalent throughout the book. I loved the set up for conflict and relationship between the characters to come. Yet First Grave on the Right was equally interesting for the plot only dealing with this book. All aspects turned out better than I expected. First Grave on the Right gets 4 Stars. Have you read First Grave on the Right? What did you think? Let me know!