First Grave on the Right

 Darynda Jones is an author I kept meaning to read and I’d had this book for quite a while, waiting to be picked up.  Having just finished it I’m kicking myself now.  I loved it, loved the main character of Charlotte (Charley) Davidson and her snarky, sarcastic personality, madcap ways and unique gifts.  Her best friend and receptionist Cookie is adorable and I loved the way they bounced off each other.

I thought it a nice touch that while being the Grim Reaper is who she is, she is also a PI and often the two go hand in hand.  Of course when the client can tell you where the body/treasure/will is, it makes it a damn sight easier.  Add in the consultant work for the police and she is a definite asset to her Uncle on the local police force (and her father before that).  I thought the misery her gifts had brought her throughout her life were extremely touching and wow do I want to give her step-mother a good smack!

Jones didn’t lay everything out for us at the start, she gave us a few key facts and then we made discoveries along with Charley.  Her gifts were fascinating and it felt a little like several concepts were brought together in her but managed to avoid being cliched or full of tropes.  I think it was extremely clever writing.  The cast of characters are all lively in their own way (even the dead ones) and brought colour and excitement to the story.

The pace of the book was well judged, at times a bit chaotic, but it also meant I was gripped and didn’t want to put it down.

The parts I must touch on because they were very, very good – The mystery of Reyes, the hot dream/ghostly lover is… hot 😉  I wouldn’t mind having a few dreams like that to be honest!

The case of the three dead lawyers (not a joke!) Charley gets involved in is interesting and I loved how the ghosts themselves get involved.  It was inventive and funny and the story is quite light hearted in tone which makes the dark parts seem much darker.

While the story does contain some hot scenes, I would consider this to be more Urban Fantasy based than Paranormal Romance but fans of both genres should enjoy First Grave on the Right.

A brilliant first book in this series and I can’t wait to read Second Grave on the Left which I have right here!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Darynda Jones
  • Series: Charley Davidson (1)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)


Harper Blaine is a private detective in seattle, just trying to make a living.   Her life changes forever when a client attacks her and she dies for two minutes.  Those two minutes were long enough to make her a Greywalker, someone who can see things from the Grey, the space in between life and death where monsters and creatures of myth exist.  Now they can see her too.

Having already read and enjoyed Vanished (book four of the Greywalker series), I had been meaning to get the first three, so I could find out what had happened to make Harper a Greywalker in the first place.  Thanks to the kindness of friends and some tokens for christmas, I have them now!

I was really glad to see my impressions of Harper in Vanished were begun in this first book.  She starts off as an ordinary if gutsy woman, making a living being a private investigator.  Her life is changed forever after a client attacks her and she dies for two minutes.  What she comes back as, is something more than human.

She is a fantastic character and I love that while she can kick ass if she is in a situation she knows, throughout the book she is thrown more and more off balance, trying to deal with her world changing drastically around her.  She reacts how I imagine a normal person would.  Fear, denial and anger are just a few of the dominant emotions that she has in abundance and yet she is tenacious enough to try and do her job to the best of her ability in spite of what is happening to her.  Her guts and intelligence are what get her through it all at the end of the day, not supernatural strength, speed or powerful abilities.

The supporting cast were really good too, well created and written.  They matched Harper for her ‘realness’, even if they aren’t all human either.  In particular Mara, Ben, Will and Cameron were the best for me, as emotional and solid as they were funny.  The not so nice guys were also well done, often scary and creepy, which you mostly felt through Harper.

The plot was quite intricate and there wasn’t really a need for a big reveal as you knew what was going on as soon as Harper did.  The intricacies came as different characters were brought into play and not all of them were good news for Harper.  Finding herself in situations not always of her own making, that were very difficult to get out of, let alone survive and her guts and intelligence (and excellent writing) are what made the story as good as it is.

I’m a sucker for a reluctant hero and was also pleasantly surprised that the story’s main focus was on action and plot rather than taking time out for sex scenes (not that I dislike those in general).  In my experience, however, it’s unusual from a female writer in this genre over the last few years.

Definitely belongs in the urban fantasy section and a book I believe men as well as women would enjoy.

Rating: ★★★★☆