Wednesday, June 19, 2013

REVIEW: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Published February 2011

The theme for this month's TBR Challenge hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian is 'RITA Award nominees or winners' -- pick a book from your TBR or To Be Read shelf that was either nominated or awarded a RITA Award in the past. For those of you unfamiliar with the romance genre, the RITA Award is an award given by RWA [Romance Writers of America] to recognize excellence in published romance novels and novellas and is named after RWA's first president, Rita Clay Estrada. [] A list of past RWA Award recipients can be found here. I was surprised at how many books on my TBR shelf that I could choose from for this one and in the end, I went with a more recent RITA winner, First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones, which won the Best First Book RITA Award in 2012.

I won this book in a giveaway by the publisher last year, I believe through a goodreads giveaway. I received no compensation for writing this review.

I had the feeling this book was going to be a fun one as soon as I read the author's dedication. Check this out:

"For Annette.

My beautiful sister.

You are like sunshine: 
and oddly irritating at times.

But what else are sisters for?"

Isn't that great? I truly think this was the first time an author's dedication sold me on reading a book!

So about the book. First Grave on the Right the first book in a paranormal suspense series featuring Charlotte 'Charley' Davidson. Charley is the grim reaper, helping lost souls cross to the other side. Sometimes when someone dies for nefarious reasons like murder, the dead seek Charley's help in solving their crimes. It's usually these times when Charley works as a private investigator with her Uncle Bob, often consulting with the Albuquerque police department to help solve murders. The cops aren't always so nice to Charley--most people respond negatively to her unusual ability to see and speak to dead people, but at the same time they can't seem to help needing her often enough to ensure justice is served. Thank goodness Charley has such an awesome sense of humor and a great best friend to help her get through all the craziness!

In First Grave on the Right, Charley is called in on a murder case involving three lawyers all from the same firm. Soon one of their clients is found dead and Charley is key in solving the murders, thanks to her ability to communicate with the dead lawyers. In the meantime, Charley's trying to figure out who is visiting her every night driving her crazy in her dreams. Although these dreams are so vivid these visits might just be real. Not only that, but she's starting to think this guy in her dreams is someone "other" like her who reminds her an awful lot of a guy named Reyes she met one disturbing night when she was a teen so she sets out to investigate whatever happened to that guy all those years ago. All of this investigating while still helping lost souls go into the light keeps Charley very busy and keeps those pages turning one after another.

This book is a hoot. Charley is very funny--her sharp wit and sarcasm add a lighthearted, humorous tone to a story that would otherwise be rather grim and depressing. There are definite serious moments to the book, but overall it's a fast paced, quirky, fun read.

As much as I prefer not to compare books in a review, I can't help but mention how much First Grave on the Right reminds me of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, only better and with a supernatural twist. The funny lines and moments in First Grave on the Right are laugh out loud funny and the seriousness of the plot has quite a bit of depth to it. Around the middle of the book I debated whether I would seek out the subsequent books in the series.. I mean, I was having fun reading the book and I liked it, but I wasn't sure if I really liked it enough to invest more time and money on it. Then the revelations in the last twenty pages or so were just too intriguing and now I just have to read the next book!

I thought I was going to give First Grave on the Right 3 or 3.5 stars, but in the end, I'm going with 4 out of 5 on goodreads.


Do you read the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones? What's your take on it?

Next month's #TBRChallenge theme is 'a romance classic.' What book do you consider a classic in the romance genre?  

I already have a book from my shelves in mind for next month, but I'd love to hear what you think is a romance classic!


  1. I haven't read any of this series or anything by this author but she sounds like it is worth a try of at least the first book>

    I am not sure about the classic read for next month. I have a number of Georgette Heyer in my TBR pile and I thought maybe she would qualify.

  2. Thanks for the review on this one. I have downloaded the sample and read that. It's been on my list to actually purchase for awhile, but I read Urban Fantasy so fast that sometimes I feel like they are a complete waste of money. I'll have to give it a try now.

  3. Hello!
    I've read the first one too and it was captivating enough for me to buy the second one as well, but..its still waiting to be read..I guess around october I'll get to it. Not that the 1st one wasn't good, it's just that I have lists lol

    About the classics, I'll go as classic as I can, and my pick is one of the two jane austen's I haven't read yet.

  4. Kathryn,
    Georgette Heyer is a great choice for next month's theme. Hope you enjoy whatever you decide to read.

    If you already read urban fantasy so fast, you'll breeze through this one. It's a quickie even for me! What about looking for it at the library?

    Hi! I'll try to get to the 2nd book sometime over the summer probably. Did you know that you can read the novella that comes between the 1st and 2nd books, For I Have Sinned on the Heroes and Heartbreakers website? You have to be a member, but it's easy to register.

    A Jane Austen book is perfect for next month! I might read one in August for a Jane Austen Book Club hosted by Roof Beam Reader.

  5. Christine, I never read this book or anything by this author. It looks interesting.

    LOL! I totally misread the theme for this month! I thought it was all about RITA award winners (as in the author, not the book!) Tells you where my head is at the moment. Ugh!

  6. I've read this one and the second, but haven't gotten around to the third book yet. I found both enjoyable and entertaining, and for some reason can't remember why I haven't picked up the third book!

  7. I liked it, read it a few momths ago :) I'm waiting for #2 from She was sassy, Miss Charlie ;)


  8. Hilcia: It's a fun read! I'll give you my copy the next time we meet up so you can try it.

    Well, you weren't THAT far off from theme if you read a RITA author. Close enough to me, anyway. ;) I haven't even visited anyone's TBR reviews. School is officially out as of today, so hopefully I'll have a little more free time to apply towards blog stuff. :)

    Brandy: There's a short story on the Heroes and Heartbreaker's website that takes place between the first two books. You can read it there for free if you register for the site with an email and password. It was really sweet. I reviewed it on goodreads.. which perhaps I should cross-post here at some point.

    luv46kdz: Miss Charley is totally sassy! :D

    Shilalekh Books: Try The Book Depository for an international bookstore.

  9. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book, Christine! It was definitively fun and I totally agree on the comparison with the Stephanie Plum series :) Let me know what you think of the other books :)


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