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Editorial Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

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

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Great choice for Stephanie, Lorelai or Buffy fans!

I love this narrator’s work on the Stephanie Plum series by one of my favorite authors, Janet Evanovich, so I decided to give this book a try. I was not disappointed. I hear so many books compared to the Evanovich series and I have yet to find one that really lives up to that…until this one. I usually roll my eyes when I hear that comparison in a review.

At first I thought Charley’s “Stephanie-like” wit, spunk, strength, intelligence and personality were just my perception since I associate this wonderful narrator’s voice so strongly with the Evanovich series, but I’m pleased to say that it’s a combination of the narrator and the author. In an interview at the end of the 2nd book, the author states that she tried to model Charley after Stephanie Plum, Lorelai Gilmore, and Buffy the Vampire slayer and I think that’s the perfect characterization of this series. She completely succeeded in that and she mixes just enough romance into the plot to be fun, without turning it into a sappy mess that hides the plot.

I also love that she came up with such an interesting “birthright/job” for Charley. I won’t give it away, but I will say that while the role isn’t something new, it is portrayed with some really unique and cool characteristics. I'd never imagined wanting to be friends with someone who does what she does, but Charley would be an awesome best friend and she's really likeable.

I read all types of books, but I’ve been hooked on the paranormal genre lately and frankly I get tired of the same old vampires, werewolves and other supernatural characters. After awhile they get so predictable with the same powers and flaws, which make the books less interesting to me. I’ll read them, but many don’t wow me or surprise me like this series did. There are enough familiar things to interest those not yet as jaded as I am, but thankfully there are also wonderful surprises!

This book is fun and interesting, but not too heavy. The first book is great and the next two just get better! I was so entertained that I got through all three in less than a week. As is typical with a great series, the story gets better and more interesting with each new book. I just couldn’t walk away. My only complaint is that there are only three books so far!

44 of 44 people found this review helpful

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One hungry author!

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!

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Love'd it

This is a Stephanie Plum as the Grim Reaper instead of Bounty Hunter. Since I love those books I also enjoyed this one.
The similarities are numerous -
2 mysterious male love interests
loyal side kick/friend
constant ability to get hurt-in trouble-almost killed-etc..
Smart Mouth
Lorelei King
Loved it - will wait for follow up, the book ending set up perfectly for the next installment

40 of 43 people found this review helpful

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A witty combination of clichés & stereotypes

First Grave on the Left is a witty combination of clichés, one-liners and stereotypes; add well-written characters and an original storyline to the mix, and you can’t help but call Darynda Jones’ debut novel a raging success. Grim Reapers are quickly becoming one of my favourite supernaturals and this book went a long way towards bumping them further up my list. I’d even go so far as to say that they currently rank second, right under werewolves and you all know how much I love them! I was as intrigued by the plot line of this novel as I was entertained by Jones’ side-splitting humour. As a result, this entire series has become a must-read for me.

With a name like Charley Davidson you pretty much have no choice but to have a sarcastic side to your personality; having to constantly deal with smart-aleck comments about your name tends to do that to a person. I should know. That point aside, I found that her overall character was incredibly thought out and after only one book I felt like I walked away really knowing her. I’m positive that she still has a lot more to share with readers but Jones does a phenomenal job conveying Davidson’s complexity in just one installment. My first impression of Charley was “boy does she have a mouth on her!” but later on it became apparent that her snark is actually a defense mechanism. No one told her how to be a Reaper and it’s difficult for her to get close to anyone because if she shares too much they usually think she’s nuts. Underneath the surface Davidson is compassionate, fearless and has an innate sense of justice which makes her a stand up gal in my books.

There are three engaging plotlines in First Grave on the Left that are guaranteed to keep you interested. Charley’s investigating the murder of 3 lawyers, trying to figure out her Reaper side and then there’s the mystery that is Reyes Farrow. You’d think that with this many competing plotlines the story would get a bit muddled but Darynda isn’t just gifted in the area of character development, she’s also a natural at storytelling. I loved all of the ghosts that Davidson encounters in this book; they’re quirky and just plain funny. There’s her crazy aunt who likes making “coffee”, the evil demon child, the weird guy in the corner who Charley’s named Mr. Wong, and of course the 3 lawyers. The other secondary characters are also equally as enjoyable and last but not least there’s Reyes. Jones describes him in such a way that by the end I found myself drooling at the mere mention of his name. I highly doubt that this is the last we’ll see of him and thank god for that!

In the span of just one book Darynda Jones went from being a previously unknown author to me to an absolute must read. This novel also allowed me to discover Lorelei King as a narrator and I immediately became an insta-fan of hers. She reads the story like it was written for her and is the perfect voice for Charley’s brand of humour. First Grave on the Right is a brilliant first installment; now on to Second Grave on the Right!

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Lisa
  • United States
  • 11-16-14

What took me so long??

I don't know what took me so long to read this book, I have had it in my wish list for a very long time and just decided to go for it.
Charley Davidson is the Grimm Reaper with sass, sarcasm and attitude. She has a mysterious man who comes to visit her frequently and sometimes at the most inopportune times and we learn all about him in this first book. She is a PI who helps her uncle, who works for the police dept, out with cases. Her best friend is her receptionist and we get drawn into the case they are working on.
I think this is a very solid PR book and would recommend it for anyone who is into the paranormal genre.

Happy Listening!!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Newark, New Jersey, United States
  • 03-21-12


I loved this book, it has laughs, a good plot, loads of different characters, love, passion and some twists too. I'm off to listen to Book 2 in the series Second Grave on the Left and I can't wait.

Don't be in doubt - I am sure you won't be disappointed.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Maggie
  • Hazleton, IN, United States
  • 02-08-11

Loved this audiobook!

My review: For a few years, I’ve been fascinated with paranormal TV shows and movies. Until this, I’d never delved into a paranormal audiobook. First Grave on the Right is Darynda Jones’ first novel that hit a home run in my book. Jones covered all the bases by adding paranormal twists, sultry romance and humor.

This novel, the first in a series, centers around Charlotte “Charley” Davidson who works as a part-time private investigator with her Uncle Bob and against her will and better judgement, a full-time Grim Reaper. She doesn’t wear a cape or carry a scythe, but she does see dead people. Everywhere. For instance, Mr. Wong hangs out in a corner of her apartment and Aunt Lil, a toothless elderly woman wonders around the kitchen and “makes” coffee. Normally, Charley helps the deceased “go into the light” but sometimes things get complicated when they stick around and wear out their welcome.

As the story progresses, we follow Charley as she investigates the death of three lawyers who have came to her for help and she ends up risking her life over and over. Charley is miraculously saved numerous times by “Bad”, an Entity who has followed her since birth and tends to show up when her life is endangered. Then there’s Reyes… a boy she saw beaten by his father when she was younger. It’s really intense to see how the plot thickens and boils together when we learn the truth about Reyes, “Bad” and everyone in between.

This audiobook was recently released on February 1, 2011, a great day being that it was my 28th birthday, so it had to be good, right?! The writing is so clever and Jones has led us into a wonderful series. Charley is interesting, funny and intelligent. I can’t wait for the next novel, Second Grave on the Left to hit the market.

Narrator Review: Lorelei King has a lovely voice and definitely does this book justice. She gives Charley a youthful voice that fits her character beautifully.

44 of 49 people found this review helpful

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  • Teresa
  • NAMPA, ID, United States
  • 05-21-12

Danger Will Robinson....Funny.

This book was great. It had comedy, action, drama(slightly at the end), and all the right ingredients to make a good book. The character Charlie Davidson kept me laughing with her wise cracking jokes and come backs, quite the imagination. All the characters were vivid, and the story line an original. Can't wait to listen to the next one.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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What a great start!

Loved, absolutely and unabashedly delighted in, the first 3/4 or so. The last part ended up being a 'tie up the ends and make a POINT' although not quite proselytizing and while it helped to have it knotted up, it wasn't nearly as fun as the first bit. That having been said, the book was absolutely worth reading. Characterization was balanced and they did mostly what one would expect of them given the set-up. The plot line moved along nicely; it seems to me to be a set up for a series, but still it ENDED rather than being a 'tune in next week' sort of story line. Lots of laughs without being fatuous. And I find myself occasionally bringing up parts of the book and working on why the author included it or what she meant or ... well, you get my drift, so enough meat to leave me going 'hmmm'.

27 of 30 people found this review helpful

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Kept me laughing..

I was nervous at first about this book but took the leap and am happy I did.

This book kept me laughing and guessing the whole way through. I don't want to give anything away I would just like to say that I was VERY pleased with the book, can't wait for the next one and you REALLY should give it a try!

34 of 38 people found this review helpful

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  • Claire
  • 04-02-16

Cheeky quirky laugh

A great start to a funny book series. A story about an overzealous PI with supernatural abilities who bites off way more than she can handle. I enjoyed the listen, but I don't feel like the story was made better by listening in audio, so I read the rest of the books. It's worth a listen though, if you can get it on sale.