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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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    4,077
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  • 2 Stars
    359
  • 1 Stars
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Performance

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  • 3 Stars
    635
  • 2 Stars
    176
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Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    3,535
  • 4 Stars
    1,978
  • 3 Stars
    959
  • 2 Stars
    341
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    243
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Really good start to the series :D

4-4.5 stars

This was a really good story. I've always been a fan of these types of urban paranormal fantasy/romance series and have been wanting to start this one for a while. I'm pleased to say that I really liked the start to the series and plan to continue with it (this is my first book by this author).

Charley is the grim reaper and was born with a vision of the personification of death greeting her at her birth. Her mother died in childbirth and she was the first person that Charley helped over to the "other side". Charley's dad married another woman soon after and Charley's step mother was a cold witch who hated Charley for her unusual gifts. At the age of 5, Charley's dad started to believe in her gifts when started helping him solve cases (he was a cop). Now that Charley is grown she has her own private detective business but still uses her powers to help out the police on cases.

The story is very interesting...starting out with explaining Charley and who she is and what she can do as she's sucked in to a case where 3 lawyers are all killed on the same night. Charley helps her uncle (who's a cop) investigate but she does it with her (trademark it seems) sarcasm and attitude paving the way. Charley tends to be rather sarcastic and has an "I don't care" attitude because she's gone through hell most of her life due to her powers. No matter that some people accept them, most don't and tend to regard her with suspicion and anger because she can do things they don't understand. Charley faces the hate and distrust with a dry wit and attempts at levity which give the story a humorous feel at times. It's not usually a LOL humor but there's a definite undertone of humor in the story. There is a romance storyline with Reyes but he's a mystery when the story begins (even to Charley) so it takes a while to figure out how things will go between him and Charley. The story definitely shows a strong connection between them and I liked where things are going but the relationship is still in a state of flux at the end of the book. The action plot gets wrapped up nicely though and things are looking promising for Charley and Reyes so I was pretty happy with the end (even if it wasn't a HEA).

I really enjoyed this story. I liked Charley a lot and found her to be a very interesting and fun character. I liked the secondary cast of characters as well and the author's writing style so I'm looking forward to trying more of her work. Overall, this was a really good urban paranormal romance. I'd recommend it. :D

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Not exactly hooked.

What would have made First Grave on the Right better?

If the threat of rape wasn't the first encounter the two love birds had in the story.

What was most disappointing about Darynda Jones’s story?

The relationship between Charly and Reyes is superficial and without depth. I don't see why you want them to be together.

What character would you cut from First Grave on the Right?

The main character, Charly, she doesn't have any depth to her and wines about everything, I'm not sure if that was the point of her character or if the narrator did a bad job of interpreting the story.

Any additional comments?

I wasn't impressed with this love story part, the paranormal part is a great concept. I didn't feel like Charly and Reyes should be together and that I should root for them. The author tried to make Reyes an unlikely hero, the bad guy that is really good. I don't like Charlies first encounter with Reyes and I don't see how she can be head over heals for a guy who threatened to rape her when they first met then just basically did via her dreams. I don't know if I want to see how their story pans out, the beginning is bit to nuts for my taste.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Story was okay

I got this book because so many people have raved about this series so I caved and bought it. I didn't enjoy it. The narration was good, but the storyline just wasn't that interesting to me.
The story was about a women, Charlotte "Charley" Davidson who escorted souls over and she was kind of interesting. I just didn't see what was so funny or entertaining. I didn't see this compelling relationship with Reyes. I don't care enough to listen to it again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Bee
  • United States
  • 10-16-12

Ummm....

While this book is quite charming (in parts) and occasionally "laugh out loud" funny, at the end of the day we just didn't click. The actual plot line is a little weird and sometimes difficult to follow.

I have zero interest in book two or three or any other book that might be related to this one. NO, I did not hate it, and I might even recommend it. This book just wasn't my thang.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Yuriko
  • Fairfield, CA, United States
  • 02-23-11

Looking forward for more

Just as recommended this book was a really fast read. The main character Charley's voice is pleasant, funny, likable. As it often happens, these heroines sometimes tend to be too smart mouthed to the point of becoming irritating, but she keeps the balance very well and stays on the amusing side. Other characters, except for her step mother and sister, are a lot of fun, quirky and likable. Especially the banters between her best friend and her little helper "Angel" and others were nice.


What I didn't really get was her mysterious lover Reyes. I think there just wasn't enough time to get into it in the first book I suppose, cause I was hoping for more Garret since he was more developed character in this book! I am hoping for more of the same fun in the next book too!

Oh and as usual the narrator was excellent!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Missing: Character and Plot Development

I love the narrator, but that is the only good thing about this book. I am at a loss to understand all of the positive reviews. While some of the elements of a good story are here, they are not woven together into anything remotely resembling a plot. It is almost like the author wrote a series of short passages that someone later pieced together. Coupled with the lack of character development, this makes it almost impossible to care about the assorted individuals and events presented. So, unless you have a credit to burn, I???d pass on this one.

30 of 41 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Cutesy Paranormal Romance offering

Paranormal novels come in two general flavors; those which take the heroine and romantic interests relatively seriously (think Laurel K. Hamilton and her ilk) and those which adopt a lighter, more traditionally chic lit approach with lots of frothy dialogue, breathy descriptions of the male romantic interest, etc. First Grave to the Right belongs to the second group.

Charley Davidson is a grim reaper who collects souls and sees (you guessed it) dead people, which might sound serious but isn't in Ms. Jone's novel. This particular grim reaper has bestowed individual names on her breasts and ovaries, one of which is (I kid you not) 'Scotty.' If you can read that sentence without having a gag reflex induced, then you're probably good to go for the entire novel with its lengthy descriptions of heavy breathing with the love interest Rais (an entity of unknown providence) as he makes her 'girl parts' tingle.

There is also lots of emoting as Charley blames herself for the bad behavior and foolish choices of everyone even remotely associated with her. Her stepmother's cruelty and the demise of a woman she had rescued from her abusive husband who decided she had to go back to her house one more time for a baby blanket are all viewed by Charley as her fault and a general indictment of her failures. Speaking as someone who's been around long enough to know that it's difficult to get people to take responsibility for the things they actually did, Charley's overactive conscience not only seems over the top but also tiresome. For a child to take her stepmother's cruel words about her paranormal abilities being somehow wrong or proof of Charley's essential badness is understandable; for an adult to do the same thing is merely pathetic.

The narrator Lorelei King does a very good job with the novel and is the only reason I was able to persevere to the end. Bottom line: chic lit and romance novel devotees will probably love this novel (and judging from the reviews do); those who like their paranormal adventures spiced with a little irony or whose blood sugar is likely to be overcome by too much cuteness should make another choice.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

First Grave on the Right

Any additional comments?

Audiobook. Premise: A young woman who can see dead people. There you go. Great book concept, right? Add to this the fact that the woman is obsessed with a type A hunk that makes aggressive sexual advances to her as a young girl and now regularly brings her to orgasm in her sleep. Am I a complete prude or does this border on the behavior of a pedophile and is a bit creepy on her part? Fantasies are one thing, but…… The lead character is snarky, obnoxious, and in-your-face to everyone about her abilities, believers included. One of the dead people even has the hots for one of the ‘alive’ investigators, then tears up when confronted with the grief of her sister. Gimme a break *sigh*. One cliche after another, in virtually every line of dialogue or narrator voice. Although, he author might redirect her career to being a stand-up comedianne as some of the lines are funny.

Unless you’d enjoy getting into a self-absorbed, offending, sexually obsessed airhead, take a pass. I couldn’t finish. I know, I know … pretty sad commentary considering all the laudatory reviews. Apparently, other readers see something about this book to enjoy, beats me.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rebecca
  • Rogers, AR, United States
  • 03-01-11

Not the Same 'Ol, Same 'Ol Stuff -Loved it!

This book was really good...nothing like I've been listening to. A female heroine who is brave, sassy, and sexy and not afraid to show her own sexuality. It is okay for women to be sexy (not slutty). A very funny listen!!! I felt in tune with the lead character, as I have her same grace and sense of humor! I can't wait for the next installment!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Pansy
  • oklahoma city, OK, United States
  • 02-06-11

I LOVED THIS BOOK!

I'm on my dads account writing this btw..

For starters at first i was doubtful because of the cover..I thought oh it's gonna be another one of those books with a great cover but a shitty story..I was like ohhh great..But from the begingnig i liked it..
I love Charleys quirks and her sarcasm it brought light to the story..I enjoyed the Mr. Wong in the creepy corner thing..But what kept me writing was this love with Rayus that she had..And how he's a creature not anything like she's seen..I def. had fun reading..The characters were witty and funny and had great comebacks..I noticed charley tends to get hurt a lot which is great because it adds ot the point why Rayus saves her..I loved uncle Bob and Garret..Though i sorta wish she had more with Garret than just a bruting friendship...I would def. recommended this book!!!!!
- Marie

9 of 12 people found this review helpful