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Charley Davidson #1

First Grave on the Right

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This whole grim reaper thing should have come with a manual.
Or a diagram of some kind.
A flow chart would have been nice.

Charley Davidson is a part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper. Meaning, she sees dead people. Really. 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 (like 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. But what does he want with Charley? And why can't she seem to resist him? And what does she have to lose by giving in?

With scorching-hot tension and high-octane humor, First Grave on the Right is your signpost to paranormal suspense of the highest order.

310 pages, Hardcover

First published February 1, 2011

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About the author

Darynda Jones

53 books15.6k followers
NYTimes and USA Today Bestselling Author Darynda Jones has won numerous awards for her work, including a prestigious RITA, a Golden Heart, and a Daphne du Maurier, and her books have been translated into 17 languages. As a born storyteller, Darynda grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, certain they went away the better for it. She penned the international bestselling Charley Davidson series and is currently working on several beloved projects, most notably the Sunshine Vicram Mystery Series with St. Martin's Press and the Betwixt and Between Series of paranormal women's fiction. She lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.

Click here to read one of the more popular short stories by Darynda called The Monster:

She can be found at http://www.daryndajones.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,454 reviews
February 2, 2016
Charley Davidson is like white chocolate. You either love it, or you think it's an abomination of nature. I love white chocolate, I love Charley Davidson, and I am not ashamed.

She's got such a great narrative voice - she is, dare I say it, a lot like me. A lot of deadpan humor. A lot of inappropriate thoughts at the worst possible times.
“Well, I was kind of kidnapped, though not really kidnapped so much as led away.”

A hand shot to her mouth to squelch a gasp.

“God, all this sounds so awful when I say it out loud,” I complained. “I whine more than a Goth with a blogging fetish. It’s really not that bad. I actually grew up rather happy. I had lots of friends. They were mostly dead, but still.”
Charley is special without being a special snowflake.
“Is anything broken?” Uncle Bob’s voice had softened.

“My eyelids, I think. I can’t open them.”

I heard a soft chuckle. “If it were anyone else, I’d say eyelids can’t be broken. But considering the source…”

A weak grin spread across my face. “So I’m, like, special?”

He snorted as he pressed gingerly here and there, testing for broken bones and the like. “Special wouldn’t even begin to cover it, my dear.”
Charley is a Grim Reaper. She can see the dead and take them through the other side. As you can well imagine, it must have been pretty fucking rough growing up with that ability. Seriously, some kid comes up to me and tells me "I see dead people," you'd tell him he was nuts and eventually everyone else would pick up on the weirdness, because kids are assholes. Charley grew up ostracized by friends and even family, but she coped in her own way; she is strong, she is resilient. She isn't filled with misery and depression and self-pity. She is pissed off, at times, but she deals with it through her snark and sarcasm and all-around awesome Charley-ness. Which isn't to say she never gets angry, she damned well gets mad, but she can deal with the unfairness life has dealt her.
“People like those assholes at the station yesterday. People like Taft with their sideways glances and hushed whispers who turn their backs on me every time I walk into a room. People like you who treat me like shit until they figure out I really can do what I say I can do. And then suddenly I’m their best friend.”
We all have our coping mechanism, and I see her sarcasm and her inappropriate sense of humor as one of such. Seriously, I find Charley absolutely hilarious. She speaks her lines with such a deadpan sense of humor. The first time I read the book, I was howling with laughter.
I twisted around in my seat to face him. “My fore-parts, as you so ineloquently put it, have names.” I pointed to my right breast. “This is Danger.” Then my left. “And this is Will Robinson. I would appreciate it if you addressed them accordingly.”

After a long pause in which he took the time to blink several times, he asked, “You named your breasts?”

I turned my back to him with a shrug. “I named my ovaries, too, but they don’t get out as much.
I know that Charley isn't everyone's cup of tea, and I completely understand if she grates on your nerves, but personally, I adore her. (well, I can't say the same for the later books in the series, but still)
Profile Image for Vinaya.
185 reviews2,077 followers
December 4, 2013
I think it's time someone let the author of this book into a little secret: Ms. Jones, stringing together a thousand-odd wisecracks does not make a novel. That is more commonly known as a Joke Book. In fiction, we like our wisecracks accompanied by an actual plot, plot development, sub-plots and character development. Say it with me, Sto-ry-line.

You know that teen movie trope about a nerdy guy trying to be popular by joking around with the jocks? Only his jokes always sound rehearsed and fall flat, and he fades away into obscurity?

First Grave on the Right reminds me of nothing so much as that guy, trying desperately to be funny so people would be inclined to like him better and overlook his general lack of charisma. The book is filled with 'gems' like Isn’t that a bit like the pot calling the kettle African-American? and If I were edible, I’d be a fruitcake.
... no, of course I haven't heard that one before, ha ha.

The only reason this book is getting two stars is because it actually managed to surprise some involuntary laughter out of me at some points. Here, for example:

[...] On the plus side, I did learn that Martians should never try to become human just to drink our water. Since Martians didn’t exist, I figured they were part of some bizarre Rocket Man analogy. So what on Earth could be comparable to alien beings? Besides circus performers? It had to be someone living contrary to the norm. I could think of a couple of groups, but I felt strangely secure in the knowledge that Reyes was neither an IRS auditor nor a member of the Manson family.

But such truly witty moments are few and far. The rest of the book reads like one of those sitcoms where the only laughter generated is from a can. You never really get a feel for any of the characters sandwiched in between all the sarcasm. Even Charley Davidson end up being an amalgamation of unending snark, constant injury and metaphysical sexcapades. She’s so busy inserting self-deprecating humor into her backstory she fails to make an impact even at the points when she should have been hitting the emotional hot buttons. And do NOT get me started on the number of times she tells Garrett Swopes to kiss her ass! Seriously, I think he got it the first ten times you said it, Charley!

The plot development is rudimentary, at best. Characters appear, and disappear without warning, and their absences are never explained satisfactorily. The book begins when Charley encounters the ghosts of three law firm partners in quick succession, all three lawyers having been killed by the same modus operandi, at the same time. So, of course, one would be justified in thinking that this mystery would form the crux of the ‘plot’. One would be wrong. About a quarter of the way through, Charley, in a classic display of self-diagnosed ADD, suddenly decides to abandon this mystery in favour of hunting down her mysterious dream lover.

The lawyer-mystery involves mafiosi, human trafficking, murder, false imprisonment and missing teenagers. But of course, solving that is a piece of cake. It requires about fifty pages in the beginning, a little five-page teaser in the middle, and a convenient ten-page conclusion with next to no investigative input from Charley Davidson, PI.

All of the grim reaper-slash-private investigator’s resources, through most of the book, are tied up in investigating the mystery man who has hot dream sex with her every night. Said dreamboat (ha! Pun!) is, of course, supernatural, super-hot, super-powerful, super-possessive, super-protective and consequently, just the sort of man every independent woman dreams of. Having started off their association on an auspicious note by strangling her in a chokehold and threatening to rape her, he then continues their happy, fulfilling relationship by vanishing for several decades before returning to dream-rape her anonymously. But hey, guess what, it’s all forgiven because he’s so hot and he’s saved her life several times, and the dream sex is so orgasmic, and she felt a ‘connection’ with him when he first assaulted and threatened her, and — did I mention — he’s SO HOT?!!

Then there is the third angle in this painful triangle, the hot, human Garrett Swopes who pisses off our heroine by refusing to accept immediately that she can see ghosts. How very unreasonable and unromantic of him! No doubt, if he had pushed her up against the wall and threatened to whip her, she would have been more accepting of his measly human scruples! There are several heavy-handed hints that he likes Charley, but she remains madly in love with the man of her dreams. Who is in prison for murdering a man, but surprise, surprise, Charley just knows he didn’t do it! Why? Because she doesn’t believe he’s that kind of guy! I wonder why the defense didn’t present THAT argument during his trial?!

There are several sub-plots that are very unnecessary, like the one about the client who tries to escape her abusive husband; ideally, this book would have worked way better if Jones had stuck to the Reyes storyline, eliminated the weak attempt at a stand-alone mystery, cut down on the canned sarcasm, and given her characters a personality. I cannot understand how Reyes could possibly be appealing? For almost all of the book, he is a dream-invading sex maniac who generally appears as a black blob and never says anything, and conveniently plays knight-in-black-cloud to Charley’s damsel in distress. Severing spines... the new route to winning hearts and seducing ladies!

And the grand reveal at the end? SO unnecessary! The one thing this book had going for it was the fact that it was a fun, light-hearted read. To destroy that by introducing a grand battle between Heaven and Hell is just plain sad. Not to mention clichéd, and completely out of keeping with the irreverent tone of the rest of this book.

All-in-all, a very forgettable book; I guess I would recommend it for a beach read, or for a very boring flight.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
December 24, 2013
You know, I love a well-written, well-constructed, complex urban fantasy world as much as anyone. I love beautiful writing, jam-packed plots and wild twists that I never would have seen coming. But sometimes, just sometimes, I have a real need for something lighthearted, nonsensical, silly and sexy. Like the Bridget Jones version of urban fantasy. Paranormal "chick lit" one might say.

First Grave on the Right is a girls' night in watching your all time favourite romcom whilst eating ice cream. In your pajamas. It's pure, cookie dough-flavoured fun. It won't change your life. It won't introduce you to a new way of thinking. But, if you're anything like me, it might just hijack your mind and take it to happy land for a while. Here's what this book has: a sarcastic, witty and hilarious heroine; a sexy, mysterious guy; a murder mystery; and humour bursting from every page.

Oh, what the hell, why use words when I can say it with gifs. And seeing as I'm currently re-watching Buffy and it seems appropriate, I'm going to say it with Buffy gifs.

There's some:

And a touch of:

And a whole lot of:

And a bit more:

(Note to readers: you might want to turn your google filters on before searching "sexy gifs". Unless, of course, you don't.)

I liked First Grave on the Right so much that I bought the rest of the series all at once (something I just don't normally do). I can see this being the kind of series that I'll need a regular fix of because it's delightfully addictive. I'm now getting started on Second Grave on the Left and I can't wait to see more of Charley's sarcasm, Reyes' sexiness, and the general demonic craziness going on.

*sigh* This was just what I needed.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,820 followers
July 3, 2016
First my over all impression of this book. Then I'll give some detail as to why I feel as I do. I picked this up because it got a...."whole passel", of 4 and 5 star ratings here. My over all impression of the book????

It's crap.

Why do I think that? Well at first I was thinking it would be okay if not one I really liked. It opened with an account of the protagonists dream where she was having intercourse with a "hot" shadowy figure. She made sure to tell us she'd had an orgasm.

I sighed and went on. I can live with a little overt sex in a book if the author seems to think that it's important to the story. I can usually skim through it if it gets really graphic. And if it's really for the story you won't be getting a heavy or graphic sex scene every second page. This was more, "in your face" than graphic. It was a short intro passage and I figured it was to tell me what a "kick ass" female protagonist we had.

Except that about every second page our female P.I./Grim reaper had to refer back to her hot dream. She had to be sure and tell me/us that she'd never had an orgasm in a dream before. She had to tell us about her shadowy lover's body parts etc.

I sighed and moved past a lot.

There is a bit of humor here but I didn't find the character as funny as some did...or as funny as she finds herself.

Sadly, for me anyway, I did see the beginnings of an interesting story here, but the writer just couldn't or wouldn't stay with it. She kept swerving off to one side. The wise cracking heroine's story would draw me in and then crash.

I can see that I might enjoy some things by this writer, but maybe I'm not the audience she's shooting for. Many love this book, their reviews and ratings are why I tried it (though my first look at the cover art when I picked this up at the library signaled me I might be barking up the wrong proverbial tree). I held on following the story and the side trails we were running down (at the point where I was in the book, I have no idea how many of the dead people we've encountered would have ended up being part of the main plot). BUT we came to a scene where I realized we'd gone a bridge too far for me. (I'll say below under a spoiler marker). I knew I didn't even want to follow the story any more it seems there is a device she's using (and of course some will disagree with me) that was something I didn't care for.

So, 1 star because I can't go lower and I didn't finish the book...

Now, what pushed me over the edge?

Profile Image for Julie .
4,029 reviews58.9k followers
November 11, 2018
First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones is a 2011 St. Martin’s Press publication.

Uproariously funny and Unique!!

This is the first book in the Charley Davidson series. I’ve noticed a few of my GR friends have read books in this series and it seems to be popular, but I was not sure about diving into a paranormal/ urban fantasy series after burning out on the genre during the ‘Twilight’ craze. So, I initially passed on it.

But, I am craving something otherworldly right now, so when I noticed a new installment in this series was coming out soon, and picking up a little chatter, I decided to see if this one would be a good fit for me.

If this first book is any indication, then I’d say I could fall completely under the Charley Davidson’s scathing, testy, and snappy spell.

Charley is a private investigator and a grim reaper. By grim reaper I mean she is able to see dead people and her job is to lure them into the light. To convince them, she often has to help them find peace by discovering who murdered them or finally getting justice on their behalf.

With the help of her uncle, a deceased former gang member named, Angel, and her best friend, Cookie, Charley solves crimes, and helps the dead pass over. But, in her personal life, she’s coping with an unseen entity that visits her dreams in a super- hot sensual way. Finding who and what this entity is that has followed her around her entire life is her most fervent wish. But, as they say- Be careful what you wish for!

I’ve read urban fantasy stories that were light and funny, some that were serious and super dark, but I’ve never read one that mixed such sharp wit and gallows humor, with action, adventure, dark fantasy, and a genuine murder mystery before. But, that’s not all! Capping it all off is a dangerous forbidden romance.

I’m sold! I need to start another series like I need a hole in head, and I loathe the idea of binge reading, but I’m signing on for this one all the way.

Can’t wait to read the next book!!
Profile Image for Katerina.
422 reviews16.8k followers
September 8, 2016
3.5 (ish) stars

“Don't fear the reaper. Just be very, very aware of her.”

Well, personally, I have mixed feelings towards the reaper.

Confused. Befuddled. Puzzled. Disconcerted. Call it what you like, it's still the same. While First Grave on the Right was a gripping and funny story, I had some issues with it, especially with Charley.

Let's take it from the start.

“Just a girl, a few ghosts, and the entire human race. What could be easier?”

The creepy guy we call the reaper is not that creepy after all. Nor a guy. Charley Davidson, a Private Investigator that always, always gets into trouble, has a second, more important job: she ferries souls to the other side, and sometimes helps them deal with their unfinished business, meaning she investigates their murders. In First Grave on the Right, three lawyers were killed because of a case and Charley, her Uncle Bob and the rest of the APD search for the men responsible. For Charley, it means getting beaten up, falling from warehouses, almost getting killed etc etc while she tries to solve the mystery that cloaks the sexy man that visits her dreams and now becomes a part of her reality. And when I say sexy, I mean really sexy.
“Reyes Farrow.
Because perfection is a dirty job, but someone has to do it.”

But we'll talk about this sexy devil later.
“Better to see dead than be dead.”

Darynda Jones certainly knows how to write a helluva entertaining book! There were so many times my shoulders shook from laughter, I loved the sass and the banters and the way Charley handled the dead people! Hell, I loved all the dead people, from Angel to Demon Child! But, there are some buts. At some points my head hurt from the struggle to understand what the hell was going on, and later there was such an info-dump that my head also hurt from the struggle to process the information! I liked the crime aspect, it kept me on edge and was never boring, but the conclusion of this case felt a little underwhelming.

And then there is Charley. I couldn't help but compare her to Kate Daniels, and found her lacking. Kate Daniels? She's insubordinate, and smart and kicks some ass, in an I-wanna-be-you way. Charley Davidson? She's borderline ridiculous, slightly annoying and unrealistic, a cheap imitation. Her bravado and cockiness almost drove me nuts, she tried hard to convince everyone that she's a badass, while Kate is genuinely a badass . I'm sorry Charley, but you acted like a child trying to impress the adults. And I was not impressed.

Except Garrett, who was a total douchebag, I liked the secondary characters! They had attitude, they were witty and a great addition to the story! And then comes Reyes. Hot damn! The parts I enjoyed the most were the ones where Charley tried to discover the secrets about his past. While his true identity took me by surprise and there are yet many things to learn about him, his presence affected me the way it affected Charley! Hot damn! Well, to be honest, Charley was constantly horny, but her chemistry with Reyes was off the charts, and I may have drooled a little. Just a little.

As you can tell, there were many pros and cons. I will continue with Charley Davidson's adventures in the future, but that's not a priority for the time being. I do recommend this series if you're in for a fun, sexy paranormal story full of action and laughter!
Profile Image for Kay ☼.
1,967 reviews677 followers
May 12, 2022

Wowza, Stephanie Plum + Harry Dresden?

Charley Davidson has a supernatural gift. She's the Grim Reaper who helps dead people cross to the other side. At first, this appears to be funny and light, which it is, but there's a deeper complexity to Charley. She solves mysteries with her gift and helps her detective uncle. I love how appreciative others are when they get closure. Not sure why I waited so long to get to it. It's a fun one!

I listened to this with Lorelei King reading so of course, I can't stop thinking I'm listening to Stephanie Plum. I have to stop doing that!😄
Profile Image for Lora.
186 reviews992 followers
July 20, 2011
. . . So. I was browsing in the New Fiction shelves at my library the other day — you know, just like every bookaholic does — and I came across debut author Darynda Jones' First Grave on the Right. I flipped through it, thought it sounded interesting but decided to put it back for the moment, since my bag was already giving me a shoulder cramp. Just as I was putting it back on the shelf, I noticed the blurb on the cover: "The best debut novel I've read in years! Hilarious and heartfelt, sexy and surprising. An absolute must-read!"J.R. Ward
And my first thought was, J.R. Ward? Sold! So, twenty-pound, shoulder-cramping book bag in hand, I headed to the library's check out — and what a great decision that turned out to be.

Our main character, Charley, has been gifted (or cursed, depending on how the onlooker chooses to see it) with the ability to see the dead since birth. But that isn't all she does: Charley is the grim reaper. She helps the dead pass on to the other side.
At a very young age Charley began helping her father, a currently retired police detective, solve murder cases. Today, she continues this line of work as a private investigator, working with Uncle Bob. It's a lot easier to solve a crime when you know who the murderer is or where the body is stashed.
To top this off, Charley's had to deal with an evil stepmother because her biological mother died giving birth to her. As you can image, Charley's life hasn't been an easy one. But she seems to take it all in stride.

Charley is quite the character. She's very sassy and snarky, but underneath that she has a lot of heart. You can't help but like her and wish you had friend with her spirit and attitude.
And what to say about the mysterious and alluring Reyes? I won't spoil the nature of what Reyes truly is, but it is a little bit of a shocker. The book's synopsis kind of makes it sound like Reyes is an incubus . . . but I won't say what he is. Just know that it is fairly original when compared to all of the vampires and werewolves, and that this reader looks forward to delving into his character more in the sequel.

One of the best things about this book is that there is a nice helping of HUMOR. There hasn't been nearly enough humor in my reading regimen lately, but First Grave on the Right has brought back the humor for me and I'm enjoying the stomach pain.

Just check out some of these quotes:

"I awoke at the butt crack of dawn with the call of nature urging me out of bed."

"I went down like a drunken cowgirl trying to line dance to Metallica."

"I once signed up for an anger management class, but the instructor pissed me off."

And there's plenty more where those came from.

This book was just fabulous. And you know what is even more fabulous? The fact that I only have to wait until August 16th to read its sequel, Second Grave on the Left.

People looking for a feel-good, funny, sexy summer read should really enjoy First Grave on the Right.

P.S. I am envious of the cover model's feet. Or foot, as the case may be.
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,889 followers
July 17, 2011
Garrett chose that moment to join the conversation. “I appreciate your forethought,” he said, his tone distant, as if his mind were elsewhere. “Not as much as your fore-parts, but still…”
I twisted around in my seat to face him. “My fore-parts, as you so ineloquently put it, have names.” I pointed to my right breast. “This is Danger.” Then my left. “And this is Will Robinson. I would appreciate it if you addressed them accordingly.”
After a long pause in which he took the time to blink several times, he asked, “You named your breasts?”
I turned my back to him with a shrug. “I named my ovaries, too, but they don’t get out as much.”

Now, if that little quote didn’t convince you to read First Grave on the Right, nothing I write will, either.

There's a new generation of UF authors who are slowly but surely rising to the throne. The names that instantly come to mind are Nicole Peeler, Jaye Wells and now Darynda Jones. I think it’s a lot harder to succeed these days than it was for Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs or Ilona Andrews, for example. It has become very difficult to find something new and exciting to read in the ocean of new UF novels. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve seen it all and a completely original story is now a distant dream. I guess there are two ways around that obstacle. The first is finding something never before used, which is (as I’ve already said) almost impossible. Nicole Peeler did it, sure, but she IS a college professor, and all professors are generally awesome.
The second would be developing a great sense of humor (if you don’t already have one) and using it to distinguish yourself. That’s the path Darynda Jones chose, and she was extremely successful. The best way to start a book is with a laugh. Jones obviously knows this. By making the reader laugh on the very first page, the author achieves two important goals: he/she makes the MC instantly likeable and because of that, the reader keeps turning those pages.

I’ve read a couple of reviews comparing Jones to Janet Evanovich. Having just recently finished Wicked Appetite, I think that the only thing they have in common is that they are both hilarious. Although First Grave on the Right certainly is a fun read and Jones undoubtedly has a fantastic sense of humor, she does not have Evanovich’s courage to just let go: abandon all rules and reason along the way. But unlike Wicked Appetite, First Grave on the Right has a solid story that holds all the humor together.

Profile Image for Kels.
315 reviews165 followers
March 4, 2016
Oh there's so many reasons why I didn't enjoy this book...

His features darkened. He stepped closer, pressed the length of his body against mine, leaned into me, and whispered in my ear. "What's your name?"
"Charley," I said, suddenly afraid, too afraid not to answer.
...He was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. He was solid and strong and fierce. And vulnerable. "No," I said in a whisper as his fingers drifted down and brushed intrusively over my breasts.
"Have you ever been raped, Dutch?"
..."No," I answered breathlessly.
His cheek brushed across mine as his hand eased back up to lock on my throat. To an ordinary passerby, we would look like lovers playing flirtatiously in the dark.
He forced a hard knee between mine and spread them, gaining access to my most private area. I gasped at the intimate contact as his free hand dipped between my legs, and I knew instinctively I was in way over my head. I grabbed his wrist with both hands.
"Please, stop."
He paused but kept his fingers cupped at my crotch..."

...and this excerpt pretty much sits at the top of my list. If there's one thing that annoys me with the current trend of bad boys as love interests, it's the romanticization of rape or any form of abuse for that matter. It's pretty sick and beyond disturbing. So yeah, the above sentence just left a bad taste in my mouth for the entirety of the book. This is Charlie's first encounter with Reyes (who as a teen threatened her with rape) and I guess that went so well *sarcasm* that she just couldn't picture her life without him. Yeah... no. Nope, nope, nope. So in case it wasn't clear, the romance portion of this book struck out for me.

Another thing that just wasn't working for me was the humor. I mean, Charlie was sassy, sarcastic, and snarky, and I liked her quick wit, but the vast majority of her jokes and comebacks fell so very flat for me. I kept picturing in my head an unfunny comedian standing on the stage getting crickets, and blank stares. Like maybe you're funny in person, but not up on stage. That's the vibe I was getting from her.

Lastly the writing was just so disjointed and it was all so very dull. I'm not exaggerating when I say this book put me to sleep... TWICE!! I'm not even going to bother making sense of the plot, because Holy plot holes, batman! this book makes none.

I only picked up this novel because so many of my GR friends have enjoyed it. Clearly, I'm in the minority on this one. I don't know why, but this book reminds me a lot of the Fever series by Karen Moning. They aren't similar in plot or characters, but the theme and writing in these books just feels comparable to me. So I guess it's no surprise that I didn't enjoy neither, huh? Oh well. On to the next book.
February 8, 2013
Don't you just love it when the majority of your friends love a book and keep telling you to read it but for some reason you don't get around to it. Then when you finally do...the only question that begs asking is why didn't I read this sooner?? That's this book exactly!

But beware...if you do not like snark, do not read this book. It is loaded with snark with more snark on top and even some snark sprinkles but any girl that names her boobs "Danger" and "Will Robinson" and her ovaries, "Beam me up" and "Scotty" is A-OK in my book.

Charley is a private investigator and works closely with the Albuquerque police department (namely her Uncle Bob who is a Detective) but she is also The Grim Reaper and her main job is to help dead people pass to the other side. This is a bonus for Charley in that she can often talk to victims and help solve their crimes.

I really enjoyed Charley and thought she was hilarious. It was great that there were things she didn't know or understand and that she was doing a lot of things on the fly. The one thing that was a bit strange was that she is described as being 'sparkly' as in the light she gives off being the Grim Reaper aka portal. It just gave me a weird Twilight vibe.

Charley has an assistant who is her best friend and who also lives right across the hall from her named Cookie. Cookie is the best friend ever. She is always there for Charley and accepts her as she is. I really enjoyed her but would have liked to get more 'about' her.

Of course, there are a couple of men. Garrett Swopes is a skiptracer (think bounty hunter) and while taken back about Charley in the beginning, it does seem that he is coming around. And then there is Reyes...hot, hot, hot Reyes. and did I mention intense? hot and intense and naughty!! That's right...naughty. And right from the start we find out that nightly he is trying to get into Charley's pants and doing a darn fine job! The problem is he's only doing that in her dreams.

Here's a little visual....


Yep...Reyes is no Gandy Candy...he's hot and earthy and growly. He's a big part of the story and we find out lots of interesting things about him as does Charley. I have a mighty need to know why he calls her 'Dutch'.

Of course, there is a police case going on and things do get a bit muddled. It's just that's there so much going on and so many characters but the good part is that towards the end, you should have a good grip on things. I'm sure this will make the next books much easier.

The other part that needs mentioning is the chapter titles with the tshirt and bumper sticker sayings. A couple of my favorites are:

Never knock on death’s door. Ring the doorbell then run. He totally hates that. —T-SHIRT

I may not look like much, but I’m an expert at pretending to be a ninja. —BUMPER STICKER

LOVED the ending and definitely a fine start to what seems to be a great series. Twenty lashes with a wet noodle accepted.

Favorite quotes:

♦ “Were you just possessed?” Cookie asked after a long moment, awe softening her voice. “ ’Cause let me tell you, sweetheart, if that was possession, I’m selling my soul.”

♥ "Why does the Earth seek the warmth of the sun?” My brows slid together, trying to understand. “Or the forest seek the embrace of the rain?”
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,138 followers
September 29, 2017
HA! What a crazy-fun read! Definitely not my usual fare, and honestly, I almost threw in the towel...more than once...prior to the half-way point, but then Reyes, his difficult family life and the BIG BAD caught my attention.

PI Charlotte "Charley" Davidson is a 27 year old beauty. She drives a jeep named Misery..."in honor of the master of horror"...has a cop for an uncle...an ex-cop for a dad, and an evil step-mother. Most importantly, though, she has very special abilities...abilities not everyone believes. SHE SEES GHOSTS....talks to ghosts...and even acts as a portal to the other side.

Most of Charley's other-worldly friends are pleasant and just want help...answers...or to deliver messages to those left behind, but one presence in her life is dark, creepy....a huge cloaked figure who sweeps in and around her....and another who enters her dreams....is dangerously mysterious....irresistibly sensual....and ultimately her protector.

Charley Davidson in many ways reminds me of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum. Working cases in conjunction with the police....great sidekicks (love Cookie & Angel)....cracking wise....ALWAYS getting into trouble....AND having lots of hot sex!

FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT is an entertaining read albeit, overall, a bit too light for me. I truly like my ghosts super creepy-scary - - - LIKE THE SECRET WE DISCOVER IN THE END, hehehe.

3.5 Stars with a roundup to 4.0. Just might have to read one more!

Many thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the complimentary reading opportunity.

Profile Image for Nicole.
732 reviews1,838 followers
April 10, 2021
I'm making my way through the most popular urban fantasy books with a rating higher than 4. And I must say, I haven't read anything 4 stars worthy recently. I have yet to find a series that shares the level of what I read a couple of years ago. I'm not asking for the level of Kate Daniels nor another Fever but maybe an enjoyable first in a series that will make me want to read the sequels. And enjoy them looking at you Archangel's Kiss. Is this too much to ask? No. I'm a loyal fan of this genre, which is one of my favorites. I want to read some good new stuff as I've extinguished all the series I've liked. My next stop is Alpha and Omega. I better not get another Mercy Thompson. Sue me, I did not like her.

- end of complaint.

Anyhow, back to this book. It isn't bad, I can see why others enjoyed it. I simply couldn't enjoy it for many factors. I'll share some:
- This is supposed to be funny. I did not even smile. Heck, I just finished Misery today and even Annie got a few smiles (the irony of Charley naming her car after Misery and reading both the same day wasn't lost on me).
- Charley trying to be all smart-mouthed and sarcastic. It was weak. The author tried to make her sound witty and sassy but failed.
- I couldn't see the chemistry between Reyes and Charley. I was intrigued at first but eventually, I became underwhelmed. They know nothing about each other. Other than their very brief meeting in their teens, in which he threatened to rape her might I add (I know he wasn't going to do it and only said that because he needed her to leave). Their romance -which barely existed in this book (and no her thinking of him half of the time doesn't count)- did not make me feel anything eventually.

So briefly said, the characters didn't mean much to me, maybe Angel but that's it. The story, which started interesting enough, didn't pull me. I didn't appreciate the humor -which relies heavily on one's taste. What I find hilarious, others might think it's silly. So this point is completely subjective.

I also needed way more explanations. Like why there's only one grim reaper? She obviously can't resolve cases in other countries so these people can get no closure because they don't have their own reaper? They see this only beacon on earth and yet she never met or mentioned meeting a dead person from another country (even though she claimed they can see her).
Profile Image for Rachel  L.
1,828 reviews2,189 followers
July 26, 2015
3 stars!

“Never knock on death's door. Ring the doorbell then run. He totally hates that.
- T-shirt”

This is where I use this review to rant about Goodreads a bit. 3 stars is NOT A BAD RATING!! I enjoyed reading this so even if you mean well, please do not say sorry or better luck next time . Remember a 3 star rating according to Goodreads means I liked it . 4 stars is for REALLY liked and 5 is for LOVED.

Back to the real part of the review.

Charley Davidson can see dead people. Technically she's a grim reaper and helps souls cross when they die on earth. Charley spends her time as a private investigator and also helps the police on the side. Her Uncle is a cop and knows about her abilities, so he often uses her to help solve difficult cases. When three lawyers turn up as ghosts, Charley discovers they were all killed at the same time in order to keep an innocent man in prison. On top of all of this, a sexy ghost thing named Reyes shows up in Charley's sleep and does some crazy hot things to her.

“That took balls."
"Please," I said with a snort, "that took ovaries. Of which I have two.”

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The best part of this book was the snark. I loved the author's snark and Charley's snark. When covering a topic as morbid as death it's important to include the right balance of humor in order to make it not depressing. I especially found some of the stalker ghosts to be funny like the little blond girl.

I found it interesting that for such a central character the reader never spent a lot of face time with Reyes. He was talked about so much it would have been nice to actually here from him rather than about him. I think that may change in the next installments (at least I hope so).

“If I couldn't be a good example, I'd just have to be a horrible warning.”

So why not a 4 or 5? Honestly, when I put this book down, I wasn't eager to pick it back up. The mystery plot was all over the place and the plot lines seriously had some ADD going on. It became a little confusing the constant switch of what case Charley was working on. For lack of a better word, it didn't feel like it was balanced very well.

So to reiterate, I enjoyed this book but didn't love it. I've heard the series gets better as it goes on so I look forward to continuing it.
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,164 followers
June 16, 2016
2016 is the year of 5-stars for me. I used to be so picky about handing out the 5-star rating, but then I realized that life is too short to be stingy with the stars. If I like it a lot, then all the stars for you! YOLO! (sorry for saying YOLO, but YOLO)

So, this book is like a rom-com that is more com, with the MC being the Grim Reaper. A sarcastic, funny, slightly crazy Grim Reaper. Who is a private investigator, because why not? She sees dead people and that is very helpful in murder investigations. They can just tell her who murdered them. Convenient, right? Putting away bad guys is totally worth having dead people constantly talking to her and making her look crazier. And, the requests they have for her...

He asked, "In the meantime, can I jump in your body and make out with my wife through you?"

I fought a grin. "It doesn't really work that way."

"Then can you just make out with my wife and pretend I'm in your body?"


"I can pay. I have money."

"How much we talking?"

Can't help loving a girl who is willing to be bribed! For the right price, I'll make out with the dead guy's wife.

So, Charley is trying to help three dead lawyers find their murderer while also trying to get their former client free from a false murder charge. I know, I know, three dead lawyers and no lawyer joke? Come on now. What would we do without lawyers?

well, there's that...

At the same time, Charley is trying to help her comatose dream-lover, who happens to be in prison, stay alive because the state is planning on pulling his plug - you know, being brain-dead and all. But, for a brain-dead guy, he is still managing to have sex with Charley in some weird, out-of-body dream experience. I know, I know, a brain-dead guy having sex and no joke? Come on now. Where would we be without brain-dead fuckboys?

okay, that would be nice...

And, while working these cases, Charley is constantly getting beat-up, and multiple attempts are made on her life. But, Charley has the best attitude throughout. She is half-dead, but still making jokes and crawling in to work. I love that she's NOT a badass. She constantly gets her ass kicked. But, that she keeps this positive attitude and her fun spirit in spite of it all.

I doubted anyone was in the mood to laugh. Besides me. Laughing was like Jell-O. There was always room for Jell-O.

well, I certainly couldn't resist this one, could I?

I had so much fun reading this book that Charley is going on my Book BFF list. I want to hang out with her and Cookie. We can do Jell-O shots and play tricks on dead people. That would be fun!

Profile Image for Jane.
385 reviews607 followers
May 15, 2019
Snark, snark, grim reaper, snark, light mystery, hot supernatural sex, snark.


I alternated between listening to this one via Libby and reading a digital review copy. Narrator Lorelei King does a phenomenal job with the voices in this, and she nails the snark levels. A new fave narrator to add to my list :)

I raced through this book and barely caught my breath before jumping into the second book in the series! Charley is a very fun character and I cannot wait to spend more time with her.

There were a few brief moments in this book when the snark was almost trying too hard, but it certainly wasn't enough to put me off. The sex is pretty steamy, but didn't quite get to the point of potentially uncomfortable smuttiness. The amusing moments far outweighed the awkward.

4.5 snarky stars rounded up for this one!

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with a DRC of this book.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,608 reviews1,481 followers
January 1, 2018
Sale Alert January Book Deal for $2.99 on Amazon

4.5 Stars

“If I couldn't be a good example, I'd just have to be a horrible warning.”

I want to be Charley Davidson….I can’t say that I have ever read a book and was like omg I want to be that girl. I mean I love characters in other books don’t get me wrong but who really wants to be Katness, or Georgina Kincaid, okay okay I maybe want to be MacKayla Lane (cuz seriously Barons would be worth it) but I totally wanted to be Charley. If it wasn’t for the fact that it appears to be Kill Charley Davidson week I think I’d consider it seriously. We are already both addicted to coffee and not morning people so I’m like 8% on my way already.

“You called me at four thirty-four....I hate four thirty-four. I think four thirty-four should be banned and replaced with something more reasonable, like, say, nine twelve.”

Not only is she the most quick witted, snarky, smart and absolutely funny character I read, I mean she named her breasts Danger and Will Robinson, she is also having hot, the heavens open up and choirs sing halleluiah, sex every night in her dreams with talk dark and masculine. Not to mention the fact that she is a Private Investigator that helps solve crimes, see ghosts because she is also a Grim Reaper and she has death incarnate as a protector. Like I said bad ass

“My calculations - allowing for a 12 percent margin of error, based on the radius of the corresponding confidence interval and the surgeon general's warning - concluded that they (ghosts) probably didn't stay behind for the tacos.”

The story was totally different than anything I thought it would be. I mean sure she helps people that have been murdered or have lingering business on this side find closure so they can cross over to the other side, nothing really unusual there. But, the intertwined story of finding the man from her dreams….well let me just say that I didn’t see that one coming at all. The story behind Reyes, the man in her bed did not go even close to the direction I thought it would and I was floored by the big reveal of who and what he was. That doesn’t happen to me very often, I usually clue in ahead of time.

All the side characters were entertaining and the banter absolutely the funniest dialog I’ve read between characters. Her sex obsessed secretary and neighbor Cookie, Swopes fellow PI who is having a hard time believing in her gift, her Uncle on the police force she helps solve crimes all were great sounding boards for Charley and her unique dialog. She had so many great one liners that it was absolutely charmingly hilarious. I wish I could get away with saying half the stuff she did.

If you are looking for a strong heroine who is smart, funny, charming and doesn’t take crap from anyone this is right up your ally. This is one of the strongest ratings I’ve given to a book at the beginning of a series. I can’t wait to see what else is in store for Charley.
Profile Image for Hersh.
148 reviews416 followers
January 3, 2015
“Never knock on death's door. Ring the doorbell then run. He totally hates that.
- T-shirt”

First Grave on the Right is a concoction of everything. It turned the cliched story line of grim reapers into that of a novelty. Have you ever considered a grim reaper being a cocky girl with an attitude? I certainly didn't.

I found the story line to be fast – paced, filled with humor and mystery. I also found the mixture of characters a little confusing but I got used to it. Jones has created an incredible character with originality - Charley Davidson. I found her to be resilient, strong, humorous and what not.
Jones has done an incredible work here. I love her narration and the way she made the story flow without it getting too complicated all at once due to its many characters.

Meet Charley Davidson

"If I couldn't be a good example, I'd just have to be a horrible warning."

Charley Davidson is the grim reaper. Not in a creepy scary way. She’s nowhere close to being creepy or scary. The story starts off with Charley waking up from her dream – where a hot entity shows up and seduces her all the time.
At first, the dream part felt like a whole different story. During the day she’s an exceptional private investigator with a unique ability to communicate with the deceased – being the grim reaper and all. And at night she’s having dreams about an entity who seems very familiar but she couldn't exactly pinpoint who it was until the day the entity called her ‘Dutch’.

So, she investigates who this entity is and also investigates a crime scene were three lawyers were murdered. Without Charley, I don’t think the story would have stood as a novelty. I guess the characters make the story and not the other way around. Or at least, this is how I found this book. Charley made the story, she lighted the story into a brilliant flame captivating the readers. She’s one of the best female leads I've ever come across.

Meet Mr. Enigma aka Reyes Farrow

“Every night in my dreams, a man appeared from the darkest recesses of my mind, as if he'd been waiting for me to fall asleep."

Reyes Farrow was an enigma from the beginning so I’m not going to clear this part. It’s better if you read the book. All you need to know about him is he’s hot and sexy. The rest, read the book and find out.

And meet Garret Swopes

He’s another private investigator like Charley but he doesn't believe a thing about her ability in communicating with the deceased. But slowly as the story flows, he tries his best to understand her. They share cocky remarks about each other and Charley kind of likes and dislikes him at the same time and I think the feeling is mutual.

Overall, The first grave on the right was a unique read. I haven’t picked up much of mystery and crime – dealing books and this surely made me want to read more. The one great aspect of this book is that Jones has managed to make this book funny and serious at the same time! There’s a lot of grins for a few pages and lot of seriousness in the next. I loved it! This is one outstanding urban fantasy read.

So, in the end I am left hungry for more. Also squealing in excitement for more!


My Charley Davidson reviews:

First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, #1)
Second Grave on the left (Charley Davidson, #2)
Third Grave Dead Ahead (Charley Davidson, #3)
For I have Sinned (Charley Davidson, #3.5)
Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet (Charley Davidson, #4)
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.2k followers
October 29, 2012
I got so damn sick of people recommending this book to me. "Sheesh, peeps!" I'd say to myself if I were the kind of person to use the word "Peeps".

"It's $12.69, peeps! I can't afford that!" some alternate universe version of myself would exclaim.

Out of sheer desperation for something to read, I finally buckled and bought it. You know what? I don't totally regret it.

Firstly, I have the most massive crush on Charley. She unequivocally made this novel. She has more personality than a Jung and Briggs typology test.

PI is a popular occupation in the PNR world, so it's hard to rise above that to create an original story that stands out. A lot of what Jones has done here is highly reminiscent of other PNRs/UFs - but it's in the fun characters and interesting story line that Jones' story really shines.

That's not to say it's perfect. For starters, I never felt that there was a huge climatic moment that caused me to sit on the edge of my seat. Because Jones was always so confident and blase about the actual mystery, the action had risen, climaxed and settled in with a good cigarette while I scratched my head and asked, "Is it in yet?"

Then there's Reyes. Okay, Reyes is both a problem and an excellent addition to the book. The problem, mostly, is that he is largely non existent making it difficult for the audience (me) to empathize with Charley's obsession and desire. He just kind of comes around, she claims he gives her orgasms and then doesn't say much. I felt so disconnected to this aspect of the story. Having said that, I loved the IDEA of Reyes. Because, had there been more to his night time visits, had Jones not used up all her personality quota on Charley, then I'm sure I would have loved him.

Jones seemed to spend more time selling the reader on the idea of Reyes. "Hey look, what a great person he is. Here's a story about how he tragically looked after his sister. Here's a story about how lovely he is."

Then when you really meet him it's all monosyllabic grunts and poof! He's gone. I can't express how disappointed I was - because I honestly wanted to adore him. In the end, he was one of the most disappointing aspects of the novel.

In fact, when I said that the book lacked that climax - Reyes lacked it most of all.

Otherwise, a great read! 3 1/2 stars!
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,228 reviews2,057 followers
September 18, 2017
I really liked the premise - a young woman who sees and communicates with the dead and is actually the Grim Reaper. There's a lot of humour of course in her daily interactions with people who no one else can see or hear.
I enjoyed the whole thing very much although Charley's banter teetered on the edge of trying too hard from time to time. There were lots of great characters even the ones like Mr Wong who never did anything but stand in the corner facing the wall.
The story was good but became very convoluted towards the end and I must admit I stopped trying to follow who did what and just enjoyed what happened. I won't rush out and get the next book immediately but I will make a note of it for the future.
Profile Image for Jo ★The Book Sloth★.
485 reviews428 followers
June 27, 2014
This book was so, so, so awesome! I don't know how to describe how happy I am right now!

We have Charley...

Charley is THE Grim Reaper...Not the guy with the black hood and scary face but the 27 year old brunette, full of attitude and snark. Can I just say that Charley went right up there with my favorite heroines? She isn't a badass like Kate Daniels or Elena Deveraux, in fact she mostly gets her ass kicked through the book but she is so full of sarcastic comments and hilarious innate dialogs that would generally be annoying in real life but are much more fun to read in a book than a sensible person's thoughts.

And then we have Reyes!

(Reyes is perfection, since perfection thy name Matt...)

Reyes is a mystery throughout the book. He is Charley's dream guy, her secret fantasy, her wet dream. Or... Is he? He turns out to be very much real, very much alive and very much of a complicated person! I think I drooled every time I tried to picture him!

And Garrett...

I'm not sure exactly what role Garrett will play in the story but I have a feeling we will be seeing him again. Garrett is the skeptical one, a PI like Charley, he is gorgeous, stubborn and he either has a thing for our heroine or something else is up that we'll find out later.

The story...

Charley gets a visit by a resently murdered lawyer only to find out that there are two more lawyers and a teenager dead and that all of their murders seem related. Now it's up to Charley(ok, and the police) to find out what's happened to them. As if that's not enough, Charley, trying to solve the mystery that's Reyes, learns that he is in a comma about to be taken out of life support and has to find a way to save him as well as solve the murders. From then on it's beatings, falls, gunshots, generally people out to kill her. Not an easy week in Charley's diary.

This book was simply awesome. I loved everything, the characters, the story, the writing. It was full of humor and sarcasm and Charley was such an easily likable heroine for me that I couldn't stop reading.(And yes, yet again I neglected to study. I'm very ashamed.Not.) The book will easily go to my favorites self!

PS. If you want sth light and easily read this is deffinitely your book.

1st Re-read 27/06/2014

And yes, I found the point were Charley describes Garrett as African American!*shrugs*
Profile Image for Laura.
257 reviews19 followers
November 11, 2010
It is rare for me to give a book five stars, because to me, a book can only achieve such a high rating if:

1. It is near perfect.
2. It affects me on a deep, emotional level.
3. I’m biased towards the author and/or series and I’m not capable of remaining objective.

There are books that I have loved unconditionally and books that I have loathed to ever read again, but despite how my tastes may differ from those who share my love for books, I must insist that if you’re a fan of paranormal romance or urban fantasy, you would be remiss not to read this book! I loved First Grave on the Right. I mean, I REALLY loved this book! It was perfection. Books like this are the reason why I fell in love with this genre to begin with.

First Grave on the Right seamlessly combines mystery/suspense, a romance that sizzles, and an infectious humor that kept me in stitches from beginning to end. The story focuses on Charley Davidson, private investigator and Grim Reaper extraordinaire. She is smart, sassy, and possesses a steadfast determination that has gotten her into trouble more often than not. She also has a penchant for naming her extraneous parts (and not so extraneous parts) with names that are sure to give you a chuckle. Armed with the ability to see dead people, Charley helps both the living and dead seek justice and find closure. It also doesn’t hurt that when she is in a bind, she has a quirky assistant, a sexy skip tracer, and a mysterious supernatural entity dubbed the “Big Bad” to help her whenever trouble is hot on her trail.

Encountering ghosts on a regular basis and helping them find their way to the other side is to be expected of the one and only Grim Reaper, but Charley never expected to experience an intense passion with a mysterious spirit that visits her only in her dreams. The spirit is described as being beautiful, but it is his slow seduction of Charley and the fleeting kisses and touches that they share that had me weak in the knees. I also enjoyed Charley’s love/hate relationship with the skip tracer, Garrett. Their flirtatious banter is amusing and I couldn’t help but root for the guy since he was so clearly smitten with her. Love triangles are a guilty pleasure of mine and I was pleased to discover that I liked both men and would be happy with whomever she ends up with.

I insist that everyone devour this book at the first available opportunity. It was truly a fantastic read. My only regret about winning it on Goodreads First Reads Giveaways is that now I will have to wait that much longer to get my hands on the sequel! If you’re looking to start the new year with a phenomenal paranormal romance, I suggest starting with this one! First Grave on the Right has an intriguing plot with plenty of twists and surprises that will keep you guessing, many memorable laugh out loud moments, and a romance that will entice even the most frigid of hearts.
November 30, 2018

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I might be rating this higher because I'm sick with the flu and my brain isn't working at peak capacity, but even so, I didn't fall in love with this book the way all my friends did. I'd heard mostly good things about the Charley Davidson series, but I always hesitate when I see a romance that's tagged as "humor" because it's been my experience that what most people find funny, I find lame. Case in point, WALLBANGER, which was just sad.

In terms of tone, FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT is kind of like the Stephanie Plum series or Meg Cabot's Mediator series. Charley Davidson is the human embodiment of the grim reaper. As a result, she can see dead people - lots of dead people. To them, she appears to glow like a Stephenie Meyer vampire in full sunlight, and that's because her body is the portal to the afterworld. They have to fly through her to move on.

Still with me? Okay. So her father and uncle are both cops and in her free time (read: when she's not playing the role of de facto River Styx), she works as a PI. Do her supernatural powers help her in her work? Maybe. Do people mistrust her for knowing more than she should? But of course.

Her latest case involves a whole bunch of missing kids, a crime syndicate, and human trafficking. People who were close to solving the case on their own merit, without supernatural help, are turning up dead in droves. Naturally, they're quick to offer their help to Charley, because conveniently enough, their lack of closure over the case is what's in part keeping them from moving on. Pretty soon, people are trying to off Charley too, but she has something that the other people working on the case don't: a supernatural guardian angel who likes to mind-f*ck her in the shower when he's not saving her ass. She calls the sexual smoky presence the Big Bad, but doesn't really seem worried about this otherworldly force in her life, which is funny because I kept thinking of that quote from Harry Potter: "Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain."

ANYWAY, I made it to the end of this book and it did entertain me, in between bouts of coughing, vomiting, and sneezing (woohoo). But I didn't really care for it as much as I have other paranormal romances. I think the humor actually worked against this book, to be honest. When you have a book about rape, child abuse, trafficking, and murder, trying to make it snarky and sarcastic and "cute" kind of seems grossly tone-deaf and insensitive. There's gallows humor and then there's "dude, have some proper gravitas, please" and I feel like this book falls into the latter category.

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!

2.5 stars
Profile Image for Marina.
190 reviews454 followers
July 8, 2013
Where have you been all my life.

Yes, this review is going to have a lot of BOLD lettering.
My mind is currently blown away and thus, unavailable.

Charley Davidson.

To all future heroines,
The standards have been upped to overflowing capacity.
Kindly settle for lower positions.

I cannot stress enough how AWESOME this book is.
I'm simply reeling in feelings of literary bliss.

“I stood and walked around the desk so I could stand over him. Menacingly. Like Darth Vader, only with better lung capacity.”

“You rented the apartment with a dead guy in the corner?” I shrugged. “I wanted the apartment, and I figured I could cover him up with a bookcase or something.”

“I have three words for you," EMT Guy said. "Possible internal bleeding."

I turned back to him. "Don't you think if I was bleeding internally, I'd know somewhere deep inside? Like, internally?”

My point is that this book is so good I wanted to cry just from the sheer fabulousness. And I know this isn't even a word but I really don't care at this point. It gives you a person you would kill to have in your life, it lets you move slowly into and around the intriguing plot, and then:

Reyes Alexander Farrow.

That's about the point you start stumbling on your gaping jaw.
Ever heard of the expression "less is more"?
Well, this proves that for a couple to breath out the most intense sexual attraction, there is no need for 2,153 sex scenes.

“Who’s Dutch?” Uncle Bob asked, gesturing toward the monitor, and my breath caught in my throat. Though I hadn’t touched it, the screen was now black. In the center sat that one solitary word followed by a blinking cursor, and relief flooded me so completely, I thought I would slide off the chair. Reyes. Reyes Alexander Farrow was alive. I stared a long time at the nickname he’d given me the day I was born, wondering if he could still come to me, if we could still be together. Then I felt him brush across my mouth, and I knew my life would never be the same again.

Seriously, go read it.
Then we can all wander around with stupid smiles on our faces together.
Profile Image for UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish.
1,166 reviews1,600 followers
June 6, 2013

This review discusses the audio book qualities, as well as the actual story.

First Grave on the Right is the first book in Darynda Jones’s Charley Davidson series, and the world Ms. Jones has created is intriguing, exciting, and unique. I thoroughly enjoyed Lorelei King’s narration and her ability to give such distinctive voices to the many characters. She brings them to life with humor, passion, and a deeply profound poignancy that completely took me by surprise.
On the Cover: 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.
I’m a huge fan of paranormal romance, but lately I’ve not found much in the genre that grabs hold, keeps hold, and has me coming back for more. There’s just too much of the same old stuff out there, but that’s not the case here. I love the fact that Charley Davidson isn’t just a full time Grim Reaper, but she’s also a part-time PI who uses her “other-side” connections to help her solve cases. Of course there’s a lot of humor involved because no one else can see or hear the people and the voices that Charley can, but I was also blown away by the depth of emotion at points in the story.

And those who know me well know I wouldn’t have even given this book a second thought had there not been a love interest of some kind. And while I can’t call this a happily ever after romance – yet – there’s definitely something developing between Charley and the very hot, very tormented, otherworldly male named Reyes Farrow.

The bottom line: I’m absolutely thrilled with this story, and whether you read the book or listen to the audio version, I highly recommend it to fans of paranormal romance. It’s not too light, not too dark, and definitely sexy. And while there's no cliffhanger, it left me dying to find out what's going to happen next with Charley and Reyes!
Profile Image for DJ Sakata.
3,036 reviews1,747 followers
January 15, 2019
Favorite Quotes:

My stepmother was never big on the whole nurturing thing. I think she used up all the good stuff on my older sister, and by the time she got to me, she was fresh out of nurture. She did, however, give me one pertinent bit of 411. She was the one who informed me that I had the attention span of a gnat; only, she said I had the attention span of a gnat with selective listening. At least I think that’s what she said. I wasn’t listening.

Maybe I needed sensitivity training. I once signed up for an anger management class, but the instructor pissed me off.

He didn’t care enough about me to give me the time of day, but I pretty much had the time-of-day thing covered anyway.

She didn’t smile back. Not even a little. I totally needed to read that book on how to win friends and influence people. But that would involve an innate desire to win friends and influence people. My desires were a tad more visceral at the moment.

I pointed to my right breast. “This is Danger.” Then my left. “And this is Will Robinson. I would appreciate it if you addressed them accordingly.”

I just prayed neither of us was biting off more than we could chew. I did that once with bubble gum. It wasn’t pleasant.

My Review:

I don’t often read paranormal but there are exceptions and this series looks like it will be one of them, I lapped it up this talented wordsmith’s story like the free booze at my arch nemesis’s wedding reception. I’m a bit late to the party as this was a dazzling debut and merely book one of what is now a thirteen book best-selling series. The writing and storylines were crisp, cunningly crafted, and laced with dark and clever asides, witty observations, and scintillating snark. I was captivated by the creativity and besotted with the enticingly intriguing characters. I fear I just may have developed an instant and insatiable taste for this crafty authors word voodoo and am kicking myself for my procrastination in sampling her brilliance.
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225 reviews1 follower
April 29, 2021
romanticizes rape culture. i couldnt even get past the first chapter.
Profile Image for Mindy Lou's Book Review.
2,669 reviews629 followers
February 11, 2023
This pretty much had the whole package for me. It's a paranormal romcom with witty banter from our heroine, Charley and the many side characters you get introduced to.

Charley is a PI who just happens to be a beacon for dead people. She's helped her former cop dad and current cop uncle solve crimes since she is able to see and talk to the dead a/k/a the victims.

In book one, Charley investigates into why three lawyers from the same firm are murdered. She finds a man wrongly convicted of a murder who ultimately ties into Benny Price, a strip club owner and a man who has been accused of human trafficking.

While there is romance, it is not the main focus. In fact, it didn't even feel like a secondary focus since there was very little romance in the book. However, when the romance was there, it was pretty hot!

Normally a lack of romance would lower my enjoyment of a book but Charley is extremely entertaining along with the multitude of side characters alive or dead. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in book 2.
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