Monday, May 30, 2011

First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, #1) by Darynda Jones

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (February 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 9780312662752
ISBN-13: 978-0312662752

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.


With her sense of sarcasm and spectacular name, Charlotte Davidson has known how to ride the APD--Albuquerque;Police Department--since she was five-years old with her being a grim reaper and all. The Grim Reaper. So when a new case opens up with three dead lawyers she knows there is something stinky afoot; especially when one of said lawyers is in her bedroom looking for justice. Consequently, Charley's dreams also have a distressing--yet pleasurable--theme with a sort of "ghost" from her high-school-freshman-year past. There's only one person who has ever called Charley, Dutch. And there's nobody more sexily mysterious than Mr. Reyes Farrow.

Just with the synopsis I first read of this book, I was hooked. I did expect some comedic relief here and there to give light to the whole talking-to-ghosts spiel but I did not expect for to have my laughing so hard I'm surprised neighbors didn't complain. It did begin where we expect all first books in a series to start, telling the history of the main character, describing and perceiving her view of the world--her world, to be exact. But what is seen in some books but is scarcely found is the leading male character to have such a strong relationship with the heroine right off the bat, instead of going through the whole getting to know each other period and then as the books progress the sex stage. No. Considering that Charley's supposedly doing it with him in her dreams already, it is safe to say we're past the "Do you have any baggage that I need to know about?" stage. Personally, I prefer my books to have the male lead already in a somewhat struggling relationship with my female lead. It just makes for better--and faster--conflicts and resolutions.

What I found pleasing about Jones' writing is that all her characters are genuine and grounded into their own personalities, that I don't think any of them even know what the word "insecurity" means. That, in itself, is a rarity in any style of paranormal romance writing because you most likely have characters who doubt themselves periodically throughout any PR book. I am putting my foot down in saying that First Grave on the Right is a PR book because urban fantasy novels are a lot more explicit when it comes to detailing their worlds and characters tend to have a lot more baggage; Charley certainly has enough. And let's face it, UF books tend to have more crime-fighting gore-ish scenes than PR. While FGotR has some they don't get to that extreme extent that UF has.

In all honesty, FGotR is one of my favorite books yet this year because it had that quality: I did not want to finish the book unless I have the next in the series handy. Jones should honestly be teaching aspiring paranormal romance writers how it's done.Given the fact that this is her debut just blew my mind; and to think that she'll get better is just...whoa. She had this style of repeating lines of what Charley thought was funny in a blunt way that I loved and when Charley would use her father and uncle to get what she was like icing on the cake for me. She is a sophisticated girl that uses what she has, all her abilities, to shape the outcome to her liking.

My readers, you must read this book. If you won't take my word for it, look at the cover more closely above, because J.R. Ward wants you to read First Grave on the Right, too.

Grade: A-

Source: Bought from Borders.



  1. It's definitely nice to have good, grounded characters. I like that it's set in Albuquerque. Does it feature the town much?

  2. Yes, most definitely. And I like how the author incorporates the beauty of the desert into the book. :)

  3. I love the sound of this. Being based on the Grim Reaper as well. Great review.