First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Suspense
Mass Market Paperback: 315 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release date: July 5, 2011
Series: Charley Davidson #1
Source: Personal shelf
Reviewed by: Lili
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.
Honesty, I am at a loss for words while I write this review. This is Darynda Jones’ debut novel and she certainly exploded onto the scene. This story is laugh-out-loud hilarious and will pull you in from the get go while you wonder why it took you so long to pick up this book. I can’t even begin to express how hard it is for me not to include spoilers for this one.
Undoubtedly, what makes this novel worth reading is the protagonist: Charley Davidson. Yeah, you heard me right! That’s really her name and she pulls it off well! She’s slightly crazy and will stop at nothing to get what she wants, making it incredibly easy to fall in love with her despite her habit of walking straight into near fatal situations. Charley is beyond snarky and has an infinite flow of insulting come backs that’ll make you double over with laughter. I’m seriously considering taking some of them for myself so I can throw them back in other people’s faces and watch them stand there in shock from the sheer awesomeness of them all. They’re that good. Charley brings a level a humor to this novel that I have not encountered in a while.
While this story focuses on her helping to solve a murder mystery—is that really a surprise? She’s a grim reaper, after all—a very huge back-plot of the story evolves around the love interest. Discovering his identity, his connection to her past, and what he is truly capable of is like an addictive drug. You get a taste and you just want more. Who is this mysterious Entity that makes Charley quake with pleasure? Why is he so important? I wish I could tell you, but I couldn’t even begin to explain their connection and the amazingness of it all. Jones had me flipping pages like no tomorrow to figure everything out for myself.
Jones weaves a tale rich with plot twists while Charley works with her ghostly and human friends, “Angel” sidekick, the police force led by her uncle, and the mysterious Entity that stalks her dreams to uncover secrets that are all part of a complicated web of lies and hidden truths. Part mystery and part romance, this novel will satisfy any reader and is definitely worth picking up.
If you’re anything like me, your only complaint would be that you weren’t smart enough to buy the entire series at the same time so you could continue Charley’s story and see what journey this snarky heroine will take us on this time.
Just because this story is so hilarious, I wanted to share one of the first quotes that made me laugh. Located only on page seven, it'll set the tone for the humor throughout the rest of the book even when faced with near death experiences.
"You rented the apartment with a dead guy in the corner?"
I shrugged. "I wanted the apartment and I figured I could cover him up with a bookcase or something. But the thought of having a dead guy hovering behind my copy of Sweet Savage Love gnawed at me. I couldn't just leave him there. I don't even know if he likes romance."