Tuesday, 16 July 2013

First Grave on the Right

Author: Darynda Jones
Genre: Mystery, Supernatural
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 310
Series: 1st book in the Charley Davidson series
Series Order:
  1. First Grave on the Right (2011)
  2. Second Grave on the Left (2011)
  3. Third Grave Dead Ahead (2012)
  4. Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet (2012)
  5. Fifth Grave Past the Light (2013)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
First Published: July 2011
Source: Public Library
First Line: "I'd been having the same dream for the past month -- the one where a dark stranger materialized out of smoke and shadows to play doctor with me."

Book Description:  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.

My Thoughts:  Supernatural books are a favourite of mine.  Add in a good mystery, a great main character and some humour and I'm a fan.  A big fan.  I'm happy to report that "First Grave on the Right" is a solid and enjoyable start to a new (to me) series.

This book has it all.  There is a strong main character in Charley, a unique take on the very popular supernatural genre, humour, some sensual parts (which took me by surprise), a great mystery and an even better subplot.

Charley is a likeable main character who has a penchant for getting into dangerous situations.  She's sassy, smart-assy and full of sarcasm.  Gotta love it when the three "S's" are all in one protagonist.  She also has a softer side as she deals with bereaved family members and the souls of the dead. 

I think that when we're shown what Charley's life was like living with her unique powers as she grew up well as her relationship with her stepmother she's given a much more human and believable feel to her.  She wasn't just some quirky PI who gets into trouble and needs to get bailed out.  She's strong at times, yet very vulnerable, sympathetic and really easy to root for. 

There are two plots in the book.  The first involves the murders of three lawyers.  This mystery was good but came secondary to the other plot which dealt with the mysterious dark force that haunts Charley's dreams (and reality at times) as well as a dark force that has followed her on and off for years that she refers to as "The Big Bad".  This second storyline is, honestly, what I was interested in. Who is this shadowy character that makes Charley weak in the knees?  It has a definite feeling of evil and I needed to find out what that was all about.

There are also a slew of secondary characters which, at times, I had a little bit of trouble remembering who was who.  But in the end they really added to the storyline (especially my favourite, Angel, the teenage gangbanger).  I'm hoping that in future books these secondary characters will be brought to the forefront so we can get to know them better.

One of the characters that intrigued me the most was Reyes.  Unfortunately, every time I'd read his name I felt like I was mangling it (as I did with poor Hermione's name from Harry Potter -- which I pronounced Herm-ee-own until it was finally explained to me.  I know, right?  Gah!).  I assumed Reyes is pronounced Rhys/Reece but I'm still not sure.  Anyone care to enlighten me?

Anyway, one of the most surprising aspects of this book was the smouldering, 'make you mutter 'My OH MY!', 'weak in the knees' sensual scenes.  Ya, I totally didn't expect those in a supernatural mystery (but I'm not knockin' them either!).  I will say that I'm predicting that Charley will have her hands full with a love triangle in future books.  Don't quote me on it; it's just a hunch.

In the end I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this book.  The way Ms Jones ended the book had me wanting to pick up the next book in the series asap ("Second Grave on the Left" is now on my night stand!!) which is always a great sign.

I recommend this book as a light, quick, quirky, steamy summer read.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

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