Charlotte “Charley” Davidson is not your stereotypical Grim Reaper. She’s sexy, sassy, and likes to help dead people with unfinished business before they cross. She’s more of a bright light kind of girl than a hood with an axe. For her day job, Charley is an Albuquerque private investigator and a consultant to her police detective uncle. Lately, her nights have been steamed up with dreams of a hot mystery lover who may or may not be real. It’s chick-lit meets paranormal with a touch of mystery in the buzz-worthy First Grave on the Right.
Inevitably, this book will be compared to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. They both have feisty female protagonists, snappy dialogue, and zany characters. Veteran narrator Lorelei King also performs the Stephanie Plum books and is well-cast in this novel. What makes her fantastic in the Plum series is her ability to define the voices of all the secondary characters and inject them with interest and distinct personalities. In this performance, she does not disappoint. King seamlessly switches among the characters and has fantastic comedic timing. She elevates the work and keeps the laughs coming.
This is a debut novel from Darynda Jones. It will not be her last; this is clearly a launch for a series. There’s quite a bit of set-up as Charley begins to understand more of her abilities and the presence of other supernatural beings. Jones has created an interesting premise and characters. The mystery element is weak, however, and the writing is on the mediocre side. Jones is at her best with witty dialogue and keeps things moving at a brisk pace. Overall, it’s a fun, breezy listen and an enjoyable escape.
Fans of Janet Evanovich, Lorelei King, and paranormal romance will want to give this new series a listen. Julie MacDonald
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. The audio includes a sneak peak of Second Grave on the Left.
Keep chilled: spend some more time with Charley Davidson.
©2011 Darynda Jones (P)2011 Macmillan Audio
The story might have been OK if the author wasn't so fixated on food and sex. In short I can only assume that the author was on a doozy of a diet when she wrote this ... far too many detailed descriptions of EVERY meal she took throughout the story... from the menu at top notch restaurants to grabbing a a bag of pretzels we had to hear about every morsel ... added to which we also heard how the 'heroine' was prone to stealing her friends' food off their plates too!
Then we had to endure the phantom sex, and the adolescent fantasies of all the main female characters ... so maybe it wasn't just food she was missing out on when she wrote this!
I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.
This was often a side-splittingly silly book. It was totally unbelievable but that didn't matter. The plot was convoluted and difficult to follow but that didn't really matter ...much. The romantic hero was totally unappealing because he was either dead, Satan or nothing but grey smoke and it is hard to make any of that sexy. It is just creepy.
But the snappy writing, the quick one-liners and the silly naivete of the heroine made all of those faults totally unimportant. And the whole book was written so tongue-in-cheek that those really weren't faults. They were part of what made the whole package so fun to read.
Because of who the characters were, the story could have so quickly gotten bogged down into philosophical discussions of good versus evil, spirit versus soul, etc. The author could have easily pulled an "Anne Rice" on us. But she didn't. She kept it light, fluffy and entertaining.
Her secondary characters were well written and strong enough to not wilt away in the glow of the main character. I loved her best friend, the various apparitions in her life and especially, Rocket.
The narration was great
My only complaint is that the bits of information that actually moved the plot forward, that explained what was going on and ultimately, what would lead you to read the second and third books in the series were so buried under the pithy one-liners and double entendres, that if you blinked you missed them. I finished the book not sure I had a clue about what actually happened in the plot. And wishing she had focused more on certain traits of Charley, like the fact she had perfect memory of everything that happened from the second she was born. But this might have been a timing problem on my part. I'm not sure I was up for quite so much humor in my current read when I sat down with this book. And if you are not in the mood for good-natured silliness, the book can be unfulfilling. Like eating your favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry's when all you really wanted was toast. But that is not the author's fault.
Reading the other other reviews I feel like I must have listened to a different book! I found many of the attempts at humor stale. The story line was mildly interesting but seemed more an excuse for erotica than a real story. I felt the reader could have improved it but her timing was all off which made the whole experience more tedious. I finished this book only because I started it and I will not read another in the series!
I'll start with the good... The narration is excellent, as many of us have come to expect from this narrator. The writing is funny. The main storyline is interesting.
Now for the rest... Look, I'm not exactly a bra-burning feminist. I like the heroes of my trash to be a little He-man- me Tarzan, you Janeish. But there's a pretty solid line between liking a hero who's a little dominant and having a heroine who's obsessed with a man with whom her only interaction was his threatening to rape her and then sneaking into her dreams and- in fact for him, while in dreams for her- having sex with her. That is over the line. It's creepy and disturbing and frankly a little gross. No. Bad.
Also, the funny writing gets old after a while. Yes, it's clever, but cleverness in every line gets boring and old and in the way of progress in the plot and any kind of actual character development. Maybe there could be something that would justify Charlie's obsession, but we never really find out because she's more interested in zinging one liners at us to in any way be self-aware enough to look into her own emotions. She acts and she talks, but she doesn't appear to think. Charlie would make an excellent secondary character, but I need more from a main character. I need to care if she lives or dies at least, and I don't get that from Charlie.
I have been happily married for 17 years, I have 3 children (12, 14, & 16), and 2 dogs. I am currently working on a 2nd degree. Life is chaotic and stressful, but I wouldn't change it. I am blessed and enjoying my life.
I am going two buy book 2 and book 3 after this review! That should let you know how much I like the book :)
I really like the character Charley, although I was not too sure of Reyes "son of Satan". At first I wanted the love interest to be Greyes (?), but "Bad" is growing on me. Can't wait to listen to the next book!
I couldn't put down this book I finished it in two days, didn't want to go to sleep just so I could keep listening. It was funny and well written, I can't wait for the sequel to come out in august.
Darynda Jones is an amazing writer hope to read many more books from her.
I am a chronic binge listener and enjoy paranormal romance, MC, science fiction, historical fiction and more
I love the world that Darynda Jones has created for this series. Charley Davidson is a Grim Reaper living in New Mexico but being a Grim Reaper doesn’t pay the bills so she is also a consultant for the local Police Department (primarily working with her uncle, Bob aka Ubie) and is a Private Investigator. Charley has a high success rate of closing tough cases but she has help because she can see dead people that have not crossed over and they provide her with information that the police don’t have access to.
There is always a lot going on in Charley’s life which makes for a book full of plot and/or character development. I love learning more and more about Charley’s life and about Reyes.
This book is full of sarcastic humor and one-liners so if you don’t enjoy that, then this might not be the series for you.
Lorelei King does a great job narrating this story and manages all of the character voices well.
As soon as I finished this book, I downloaded book 2 (and am now on book 4 at the time of this review). I cannot wait to listen to more books in this series, I am hooked!
I did not care for the narrator. The June Cleaver voice delivering the wisecracks of a smart-ass detective was definitely at odds. I also did not appreciate the early part of the story in which the narrator at 15 years of age is basically molested by a teenage boy. She then develops a lifelong lust for this character.
I have no interest in pursuing the rest of the rest of the series.
While the story was okay, not necessarily original but decently interesting, what a terrible choice of narrator to read this frisky and frolicsome novel. She was stiff and clipped in her delivery, which was an unfortunate contrast to the comedic writing. As well, her timing was stilted and uncomfortably "off" on every line, every quip, everything. In contrast, I can think of two women who could easily have pulled this off, Karen Cass and Caroline Lee. Both readers show amazing engagement and tempo building, exactly what this novel was begging for.
I got maybe one-third of the way through before I had to stop. I couldn't listen another minute.
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