Review – First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

POSTED ON March 15, 2015 BY Austine IN Book Review

Review – First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
First Grave on the Right
by Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson #1
Published on February 1, 2011 by St. Martin's Press
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 310
Genres: Adult, Paranormal Romance

This whole grim reaper thing should have come with a manual.
Or a diagram of some kind.
A flow chart would have been nice.

Charley Davidson is a part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper. Meaning, she sees dead people. Really. 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 (like 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. But what does he want with Charley? And why can't she seem to resist him? And what does she have to lose by giving in?

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While relaxing at home over spring break, I played blind pick with the novels on my TBR shelf. My finger landed on First Grave on the Right, so I flipped through the comments. Overall, pretty good. My mom read the whole series so far and loves them, and we typically like the same books. Okay, it all sounds promising. So I start reading.

Oh! The protagonist is a smartass. That’s definitely a plus. And look! She made a witty remark. Cool, cool, I’m digging this.

Rinse. Wash. Repeat for 300+ pages.

Am I too serious? Maybe I’m too serious. But I feel like a novel’s worth of snappy comebacks and sarcasm is a bit overboard. And there are a few things I look for in a book. Typically the big one is plot. Yeah, that thing that tells the story. I hear it’s quite important — and also a weakness of First Grave.

Charley Davidson (yes, you heard me right) is our star, a grim reaper and P.I. She’s not your typical reaper. No scythe, no black robe, just a Bugs Bunny quilt. I first met her after she has a very hot dream about a mysterious figure who has haunted her sleeping hours for the last month. Naturally, my mind thinks that the story will follow her trying to figure out who the person/thing is. Not even a handful of pages later, Charley is standing on the scene of a murder talking to a dead guy and taking on a case to discover the murderer. This story starts to take the spotlight and I settle into a wise-cracking detective solving a murder mystery.

Flip to about halfway through and suddenly, who cares about murder? Charley learns the name of her elusive dream stalker and is now consumed with finding him.

The story jumped around so much I began losing interest. Keeping the two storylines separate wasn’t the problem. What put me off reading this book was the fact that Charley had to make a comment about everything. And every time it was a joke, a smart remark to be funny. Occasionally? Sure, sounds good to me. But for each and every action and event was just too much. It began to lose its comedic — and therefore, entertainment — value.

Alright, so in summary, the good:

  • smart-ass protagonist
  • plenty of humor
  • opened series for more books (always good in a first book)
  • vivid descriptions
  • interesting take on grim reapers

And…the bad:

  • too much humor
  • lack of focus on the main story
  • enough with the witty remarks!

Thankfully, there wasn’t anything downright ugly about this book. Overall, it was pretty average for book numero uno in a series and I’ll be reading the next book to see if things improve.

Recommend to fans of: Grim Reaper tales, paranormal romances, kickass heroines with plenty of sass, hot detectives and “Death-ly” creatures.

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