Darynda Jones’ ‘First Grave on the Right’ – “I once signed up for an anger management class, but the instructor pissed me off.”

‘First Grave on the Right’ is the first book in the Charley Davidson series. The main chararcter’s name gives you a feel for the overall tone of the book – there was also a character with that name in the TV show ‘Biker Mice from Mars’

Charley is a part-time private investigator with links to the police, she is also a grim reaper which means that she sees dead people. Most of the time the dead are happy to go into the light, but some want Charley to help them – usually those who have been murdered. At which point these links to the police come in very handy.

first grave on the right

(Book cover)

Charley has also been having some very vivid and sexual dreams recently, which beg some more investigation.

‘First Grave on the Right’ ticks a lot of boxes for urban fantasy but in a light hearted sort of way that almost borders on chick lit – you have the crazy best friend (Cookie), the hot dreams, the hot real guy, the drama with the stepmother, endless jokes and snarks from Charley and then you have the plot. The plot is way down the list and the humour is at the forefront.

In my current mood I really loved the humour, for example “I’d have a longer attention span if there weren’t so many shiny things.” Charley made me laugh, I rooted for her even as she did stupid things and was rude to people for no real reason than she couldn’t be bothered to deal with them! I would like to do that at the moment, but I rather like having a regular paycheque, so reading ‘First Grave on the Right’ was cathartic.

biker mice from mars

(A still from ‘Biker Mice from Mars’)

If I’d wanted a plot that was a bit deeper and/or a world that was meticulously planned out then this book wouldn’t have worked – for example I found it funky that the book was set in Albuquerque, but I quickly forgot that it was as the setting was entirely incidental to Charley’s next wisecrack.

The romance was both pivotal to the book and underused as it was the dream sex that made Charley seek out her mystery man. I suspect that the sequels will focus more on romance (or at least actual sex!).

That said I am not sure I need to bother with the sequels, ‘First Grave on the Right’ was enjoyable as a standalone and I don’t need more than a couple of book that are full on humour with minimal plot!

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