First Grave on the Right
Charley Davidson, Book #1
By Darynda Jones
ISBN# 0312662750
Author’s Website:

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Heidi

Beware of Spoilers!!

Charley Davidson is your average young woman; she has her own apartment, owns her own PI business and she’s a grim reaper.  That’s right she sees dead people and convinces them to cross to the other side through her.  Like I said, completely normal.

Then there is the mysterious robed figure that scares Charley to death.  She refers to him as ‘The Big Bad’ and she only sees him when her life is in danger.  He comes to save her and is always angry when she’s been hurt, but never at her, just at the person causing her harm.

For the last month, Charley has been having amazing sex dreams starring a dark mysterious and talented guy.

“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. His mouth, full, masculine, would sear my flesh. His tongue, like flames across my skin, would send tiny sparks quaking through my body. Then he would dip south, and the heavens would open and a chorus singing hallelujah would ring out in perfect harmony.”

She realizes that she knows who the man of her dreams is.  A boy, Reyes, she met 12 years ago who was being beaten by his father.  Charley tried to help him, but he refused her help and used scare tactics to get her to leave.

Charlie and her employee who’s also her best friend, Cookie, track down Reyes.  He’s in prison for killing his father.  But when Charley goes to pay him a visit she learns that he’s been in a coma for the past month (coincidentally the time the sex dreams began) and the state is going to take him off life support in three days.  Now Charley is on a mission to save him and give her dream a chance of coming true.

“If I wake up,”  he said, his voice an agonized whisper, “they’ll find me”……”If they fine me,” he continued, his gaze lingering on my mouth, “they find you.”

The titles of the books in this series drew me in.  They reminded me of the titles of the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost which I love.  But let me tell you First Grave on the Right is nothing like that series, but is good on its own and very different right.  I’ve never read a book whose main character was a grim reaper and I found Jones’s take on it to be quite enjoyable.  And, I loved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter that were mostly from bumper stickers and t-shirts.

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

Charley doesn’t back down from anything.  She is a fun and fearless female lead.  The way Charley narrates with her humor and sarcasm reminds me a lot of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum.  But where Steph is saved by dumb luck most of the time, Charley is saved by her extremely handsome and lethal bodyguard….no wonder she’s so fearless!

I really enjoyed the interactions between Charley and the deceased that she talks to.  Her three lawyers in this one were fun even down to Barber, who was in denial of being dead.  The lawyers passed to the other side, but there are other that aren’t ready yet such as Aunt Lillian and Angel that we’ve just scratched the surface with. I’m sure we’ll get to see more of them as the series progresses.

I thought Garrett was a lot of fun as well.  I do think that he has a thing for Charley, even if he doesn’t want to admit it even to himself.

“Garrett must have sensed I was awake. “Hey Detective,” he said to Uncle Bob, who was now trudging across the grating toward us. “I think we’re losing her. I have no choice but to perform mouth-to-mouth.”

“Don’t you dare,” I said, my lids still in lockdown.”

I found the love hate relationship between him and Charley to be entertaining, but it makes me wonder if this is leading up to some impossible love triangle.  Who will she pick human or son of Satan?  And, what would Reyes do to Garrett if she did chose him?

Speaking of Reyes…mmmm.  I loved the complexity of this character.  We get to see him as an abused child that refuses to run away in order to protect his sister.  Then, he continues his role as protector being Charley’s guardian angel as ‘big bad’ and always making sure she’s safe.  Then, there is the sexy hot lover side of him that scorches through Charley’s dreams and then through her flesh once his incorporeal form starts making himself known to her.  I’m curious to see how things change now that his human body is awake and to see how his parentage is going to affect the relationship.

I greatly enjoyed this book and I am glad that I have books two and three on hand to continue this great story.  It’s really hard to believe that this is Jones’s debut novel.  Usually there is some kind of learning curve and it takes a couple books to make one that is so good, but that’s definitely not the case with Darynda Jones! I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us!