First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
2nd Grave On The Left by Darynda Jones
Charley Davidson Series Books 1 & 2
Narrated by Lorelei King
Urban Fantasy, Does Not Stand Alone.
Back in 2011 when I was obsessively reading paranormal only, The Charley Davidson Series by Darynda Jones was at the top of my list, then Fifty Shades of Grey came out, and I moved my obsession over to books with kink and never got back to it. Over the years I’ve seen two of my favorite authors, JR Ward and Kristen Ashley gush about the series, and when I asked in the Readers on the River group for the perfect book (from attending authors) to listen to while driving my child to college and leaving him there, the series, starting with First Grave on the Right, was recommended as perfect for making me laugh and get so involved in that I will forget to cry.
It was a great recommendation. If you have ever read The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, it reminded me of a paranormal version of that (even Lorelei King narrated that series from book 7 on). There is a great blend of humor, mystery, and possible romance that kept me entertained non-stop the whole way up to help my son move into the dorm, leaving me an empty nester.
Charley Davidson sees and speaks to dead people. She is the Grim Reaper, and it’s her job to help the people cross over who haven’t already, so she usually encounters ghosts with unfinished business. Charley works as a P.I. while also helping her cop father and uncle solve crimes for the police. It turns out that talking to dead people is great for helping to solve a crime (no shit, you can ask a dead person who killed him!).
“That took balls.”
“Please,” I said with a snort, “that took ovaries. Of which I have two.”
Charley has had a rough life, I mean, she was always the weird kid, then adult, who talked to invisible people. Making connections isn’t easy for her, so her snark is how she copes. But she is getting visited in her dreams by a very sexy man who is doing very dirty things to her in her dreams. Or is it real?
“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.”
If you don’t like snarky one-liners, this is not the book for you—I could see this being a love-it-or-hate-it type of read. For me, I really loved it, and I think I would have even loved it more back in 2011 when it came out.
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.”
- There wasn’t a ton of world-building needed, so I got right into it.
- Charley was funny as fuck.
- I loved Cookie, her best friend and assistant.
- I liked that part of the story is solved in this book but it looks like the romance and mystery that surrounds Reyes will be continuing throughout the series.
- I liked that she wasn’t really a badass and kept getting hurt.
- The ghost sex scenes.
- The rape threat.
- I had a little problem following the story at times, there were a few plot holes.
- A few of her jokes and some plot points don’t sit well in this day and age.
- It felt a little dated to me (it is!) but I’m not sure if the narrator has something to do with that because she is one of the first I ever listened to.
- The size of the series is completely overwhelming to me (but I’m like that with TV as well).
- I wish we knew more about her grim reaper job. Is she one of many? She seems to only serve her city.
Lorelei King is amazing as Charley Davidson, but I think the similarity of the book to the Stephanie Plum Series plus having the same narrator made this feel a little dated to me, having read my last one in that series in 2007.
The Down & Dirty:
I can see why people love Charley Davidson. She is snarky and funny as hell and I have never read about a Grim Reaper. This was a perfect choice for me to accompany my drive to and from dropping my son off at college. It was fun, campy, and light, and made me laugh out loud and forget to cry. I immediately grabbed the next in the series when I finished.
4.25 Stars, with a bit of a sexy scene or two but not detailed or with a real person.
Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones
I’m including this review here because I’m going to make it short & sweet. Charley’s snarkiness got to be too much for me in this installment. It felt canned- like someone went in and added a ton of snarky one-liners. Don’t get me wrong, I laughed out loud at a few, but it overall started to get on my nerves. If I read these as they were coming out I would have had a chance to miss her between books, but binging in a row was a bit too much. Since this story built on the first, ended on a bit of a cliff and there are still 11 more, I think I’m going to end here. I did like this book overall, but not enough to continue the series.
Rating: 3 stars
Narration for both: 4/5
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