First Grave on the Right ~ Darynda Jones

  • Title: First Grave on the Right
  • Author: Darynda Jones
  • Series: Charley Davidson #1
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Format: Audiobook
  • Source: Library
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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.

Review:  This book has been on my to-be-read shelf for quite some time. I am glad that I finally decided to move it to the top of my list. The book was chock full of snarkorific fun. I listened to it the audio book version and I want to give props to Lorelei King for doing a fantastic job with narration.

The main character Charley is smart, sarcastic, independent young woman who makes her living as a detective who has a knack for helping to solve murders and is a regular police consultant. The fact that she is the grim reaper gives her a bit of an advantage. When the dead linger, they often become clients, along with the living. The book gets kicked off when a newly dead lawyer pays Charley an early morning visit to engage her services in solving his murder. Action and mystery ensues.

Charley’s character was really well-written. She is a tough, no nonsense female that does not take herself too seriously. She has vulnerabilities, but does not get bogged down in angst and sentimentality. The author does a great job developing the grim reaper mythology. Ms. Jones clearly planned it out her rules well and consistently stuck to them. The result is a reaper concept that melds well with the portrayal Charley’s character. The other characters in the books are a rich cast of personalities, each having a distinct voices and contribution to the plot.

The plot has no shortage of action. In fact, Charley is kind of a magnet for trouble, finding herself in a plethora of exciting and/or dangerous situations throughout the book. As a result, there is a keen level of suspense throughout the story, as the characters try to unravel the mystery at hand.

This book falls solidly into the urban fantasy genre with a leaning toward action. There is a romantic subplot (which is smoking hot!), yet it does not get in the way of the primary storyline, which is the murder mystery that Charley is working to solve. The book also offers a solid dose of humor, making it a light and quick read.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys light mystery with a heavy dose of snark. Go ahead and judge this book by its cover. The cute skull sandals and nicely manicured hand holding a mini-scythe capture the whimsy of the story itself. The fonts also capture the light-hearted tone of the story and the layout is well-balanced.

I can’t wait for the next book. I hope the remainder of the series fulfills the promise of this first book.

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