Review: First Grave on the Right

Darynda Jones
Urban Fantasy
320 pages
Charlie Davidson #1
Chapter 1
St. Martins Press

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 going to try my best at staying objective, but I'm afraid there's going to be some major gushing about to take place here.  Quite simply, First Grave on the Right, has become one of my favorite books.  It's plot is dark and twisty -while remaining approachable-, it's characters come alive before your eyes, and the book's heroine Charlie Davidson deserves an entire series written around her. 

One of the best attributes of this book is its cast.  Every character jumps off the page with their three dimensional personalities.  From the best friend/receptionist/neighbor Cookie, who reminds you to worry about Charlie, and her teenage daughter Amber.  To Uncle Bob, the hard-nosed cop with anger management issues. "Slow down. If you hyperventilate and pass out, I'm not catching you.  I injured my shoulder playing golf the other day." My family was so caring. To the non-believing detective who may look like Lenny Kravitz, but has a stick up his ass like Gladys Kravitz.  To the very ghosts themselves that "haunt" Charlie. Each person is vibrant and round out the story perfectly.

So that leads me to Charlie Davidson, the book's heroine.  I've got major girl crush! Charlie is a grim reaper.  She may not walk around in a black hooded robe and carry around a scythe, but she does usher souls to the afterlife through her persons. I don't know about you, but when I think of the grim reaper I don't see myself becoming too attached or envision us laughing a lot, but you will and you do.  Charlie's wit and constant humor keep the mood light, and I think is part of the reason how a story surrounding constant death can come off so very funny. 
"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.  But the thought of having a dead guy hovering behind my copy of Sweet Savage Love gnawed at me.  I couldn't just leave him there.  I don't even know if he likes romance."
Charlie's dry humor never lets up, but the depth her character displays goes far beyond snappy comebacks. 
"Crossings from my perspective were a little like watching people disappear before my eyes. I felt them as they drifted through me.  Their emotions. Their fears. Their hopes and dreams. But I had yet to feel hatred, animosity, or jealousy. Mostly, I felt an overwhelming sense of love. Every time someone crossed, my faith in humanity grew."
Charlie will surprise you at every turn, and for me easily became one of my favorite leading ladies.

The layered plot will keep a reader engaged until the very last page.  The story is about the mysterious death of 3 lawyers who were working on a case of a presumed innocent man, and they need Charlie's help to figure out why they were killed for it.  This of course unravels to reveal much more than you would expect.  But the book is also centered around Charlie and her mysterious connection to a man named Reyes.  I loved the mystery of their relationship.  Just when you think you kinda know what's what, something shifts back and you're delighted because that just means there's more to discover. And don't let me get started on their chemistry.  It's electric.  I can't even tell you. 

Bottom Line: The cast is fresh, the plot is always changing, and Charlie and Reyes will claim a piece of your soul. 

5 stars 


  1. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit, I gotta go buy this one asap. If you give it 5 stars it's a done deal for me!

    I love love dry humor when it's done right! And if you've got a girl crush on her, i'm sold.
    Thank you, I've been so curious about this one!

  2. Pam: I think you'll love! Charlie is just so damn interesting. Keep me posted :)

  3. Me too Pamela. If Jess gives it 5 stars you KNOW it's going to be worth reading. It's in my online shopping cart right now...I just need to actually buy it and stick in somewhere.
    Great review Jess! Thanks for adding to my to-read pile...again.

  4. I'm just re-paying the favor ladies! You both add to my TBR often!

  5. Fantastic review Jess! I've read one other review on this book and I know now that I really need to add this to my TBR list! :-)