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 is a thrilling debut novel from an exciting newcomer to the world of paranormal romantic suspense.
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2011)
As of late the paranormal/supernatural book market is choking with vampires, werewolves and witches. Enter Darynda Davis, whose debut book, First Grave on the Right, is a scintillating, slosh of freshness. Her writing slicks and soothes across our parched need for something refreshing and original. Behold, our new supernatural heroine, Charley Davidson, a sparkling beacon of light, she is the Grim Reaper. This book is such a bright, innovative entry into the field. Don't miss this one!
What I Liked:
- Charley, she is not your Grandma's grim reaper. She doesn't even don a hooded, black robe (she claims it is at the cleaners). Instead she is sexy, sassy, witty and one of kind. She absolutely drips with sarcasm. This gal has razor sharp wits and she is destined to vault over some of the favorite leading ladies in this genre. Did I mention sarcastic? Ladies and Gents this girl can snark with the best of the best. Since a majority of this book is written in a stream of conscious format, you are deluged with her sharp, witty commentary on anything and everything; you have a front row seat into her thoughts. I have always been a fan of the stream of conscious writing style, it certainly spices up the story. As the grim reaper Charley is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel; she is the gateway through which the departed pass to the other-side. She also has the ability to see and converse with the dead. Other than that she is just a normal human. She is a private investigator, who works with her Uncle Bob, a police chief, who wears a rubber band on his wrist to flick when his anger control slips. Using her ghost whispering abilities they work on solving a case involving three slain lawyers. Even though she possesses the totally kick butt name Charley Davidson, sadly she is bereft of any super power type strength; thus she is always in situations where she is getting her butt handed to her. Oh, and she drives a jeep named Misery a tribute to Stephen King. Have I convinced you yet that this gal has swank? I could go on but I am writing a review, not a novel to pay homage to this book.
- Cookie, Charley's best friend, across the hall neighbor and secretary. Quite the gal isn't she!? Her name is fitting.... ahh Cookie she is Charley's comfort, shoulder to lean on, a warm hug not too mention a super valuable sleuth. Everyone should have a friend like Cookie in their lunch box.
- Big Bad, he is Charley's life long, enigmatic protectorate. He scares the pants off her. He is black smoke and mystery; appearing and disappearing at will swooping in just in time to save her. Folks when you get to the ending and you learn the true secrets behind his identity....let me tell you, that chapter is sizzling, smoking hot, scorching, read with your fan set to high and blaring in your face. Whew!
- The writing in this book is superb. Ms. Jones' repertoire of similes and metaphors is absolutely astounding and breathtaking. I was blown away. This lady has some mad writing skills!
- The ghosts, that pop in and out of the story. They have personality and spunk; well except for Mr. Wong (snickering).
- I now feel compelled to get a new wardrobe of T-shirts that sport all the comedic quips that are at the beginning of every chapter. My favorite is the one that says "Jenius". Seriously, Ms. Jones ought to consider starting her own clothing line with all these gems!
And The Not So Much;
- This book has an intricate plot. I would say it starts out as a tree trunk; growing toward solving the murder mystery but then it branches out and you have numerous story lines; the search for Reyes, unmasking Big Bad, and numerous ghosts with their own stories popping in and out and crossing over. All of this is a lot to digest. The tree gets big with a lot of branches. Sometimes it is a lot to keep straight. To totally appreciate and understand this book you need to read it in a short time span, if you put it down (not that you will want to), you might get lost.
- As mentioned this book uses the stream of conscious format and sometimes having all of Charley's saucy, sharp edge commentary weaving in and out gets distracting. Again, I am a big fan of this style but it can be complex. I had to read numerous passages over because sometimes I got caught up in her tangential thoughts and lost track of the story thread.
- While most of the characters were rich and deep, a couple missed the mark. Namely Garrett, I am still not sure how his puzzle piece fits into place. At times he is the perfect compliment to Charley. He can go toe to toe with her sarcastic banter. Other times he seems flat, like an extra and then he comes to the forefront again. His character needs growth. Angel was another character that disappointed me. He is briefly mentioned in the first pages, then he is glossed over and forgotten until he reappears in the second half of the story. Turns out he is Charley's ghostly, crime-solving sidekick. He appears as an integral character so why is he so late to the dance? I just felt that he should have been given more time and development.
- The ghosts that come out of the woodwork, don't get me wrong, I loved these characters but again there are so many coming and going and they each have a story and agenda. It makes it difficult to remember who is who. The lawyer ghosts are key players in the beginning and then they fade out of the picture for a long spell. Finally, they arrive back in at the end to solve the crime and apprehend their killer. As I said a flood of people living and dead are in and out of the picture.
That being said, this is a superb, outstanding debut novel. I am just kicking myself for letting it languish in my To Be Read Pile for six months. Well, I am not going to berate myself too much because due to my procrastination I do not have to wait for the next installment. It is already sitting atop my pile. Book Three is due out in February 2012. I highly recommend you pick both books up immediately!