Halloween Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Hardcover: 310 Pages

Series: Charley Davidson #1

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Find on Goodreads

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.

Charley Davidson is a part-time PI, part-time bartender and full time grim reaper. Much like Kate Daniels or Alex Craft, she’s sassy, sarcastic and independent.

However, unlike both Daniels and Craft, who get away with their attitudes because they’re the best at what they do, Charley totally sucks at being a PI, and a grim reaper, too.

If you’ll read my status updates, you’ll see I wrote that the first chapter is pretty damn good and funny. The MC comes across as likeable and hilarious, and you’re undeniably pulled into the story.

Even though the constant joking got old, there were some instances where I laughed out loud:

I figured either Superman died and was swooshing around the country at the speed of light—because dead people don’t move that fast; they appear out of nowhere and disappear the same way—or I was having lots of those little ministrokes that would someday lead to massive and devastating cerebral hemorrhaging.

Jokes aside, the premise and plot – three lawyers murdered, Charley working with the police to find the killer – were interesting enough to keep me reading. That is, until Jones said “plot be damned” and focused on Charley’s sex life or lack thereof.

Our heroine pretty much abandons her hunt for the killer in favor of finding out more about Reyes, a guy she met once, when she was in highschool, and his similarities to the Bad Guy, an entity that seems to only reveal itself when she’s in danger.

This is a guy she only met once and that meeting culminated in Reyes holding her in a chokehold while threatening to rape her. So, of course, she’s attracted to him because he’s “powerful and perfect”.


She’s only seen him once. Now, years after, he comes back in the form of..swirling black smoke, invades her dreams and, well, I can’t say rape since she’s more than willing, can I?

Charley is completely obsessed with him to the point where she has to “rain in the urge to make out” with a photograph of him. Uhm, hormonal much?

She suspects he might be the same kind of supe that the Bad Guy is, the only entity that scares the living shit out of her, yet she’s lusting after him, awake or asleep.

She finds out he’s in a coma, visits him in the hospital ward ( did I mention he was in prison? ) and what does she do? Make out with his unconscious body, obviously.

Furthermore, she finds out he’s been stalking her, her entire life, that he was there when she was born (ew, gross much?)

I mean, this is a guy who once THREATENED HER WITH RAPE. I really don’t know how I can make that fact clearer. But no, he’s hot and alluring. Oh, baby, oh, baby.

Why are women, especially MC, portrayed this way in novels? I mean, she’s so powerful and badass Chuck Norris couldn’t take her, but one look from a hot guy and you could knock her over with a feather. Puh-lease.


The other characters didn’t make me want to punch a random dude in the face for no particular reason.

Cookie and Amber were both sweet, the first taking on the role of a mother figure in Charley’s life.

Uncle Bob and her dad were barely characterized, making me think they were written in to support/enable Charley’s crazy heroics.

Garret, hmm. Do I smell the beginning of a love triangle? Sure hope not.

I admit the ending was unexpected and I do think the series has potential, which is why I’ll probably read the second installment as well.
I just hope that the second book starts off with Charley thoroughly getting her rocks off, in hopes she’ll stay focused on the more interesting aspects, like the plot.

Le me before reading: Grim reapers and ghosts? Ohh, cool read for Halloween.

Le me after reading: I should’ve known better..


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