First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
Published February 1st 2011 by St. Martin's Press
It’s a given that someone would have to be a bit of a bad-ass to rock a name like Charley Davidson. In fact, it might pay to be the ultimate bad-ass, the Angel of Death, The Grim Reaper. That’s The with a capital “T”, as in the one and only. And while ushering the dearly departed into the beyond may be a full time job, it doesn’t pay the bills, and Charley has honed her unique “talent” of communing with the dead to make a profitable career out of being a private investigator.
When the ghosts of three attorneys reveal their connection to a recent string of murders and missing persons, Charley finds she has her hands full on both planes of existence. But as if the mystery of a triple homicide wasn't enough, another perplexity has surfaced, one that is much, much harder to explain. A ghostly presence, shrouded in darkness deep enough to terrify the Grim Reaper herself, has haunted Charley since birth. He has appeared to her only a handful of times in the past but now he has begun to invade her dreams…and her bed. When the revelation strikes Charley that her otherworldly visitor may have a connection to someone from her past, she begins to fear that there are worse things than even Death.
"As I trudged the fifty or so feet across the alley and into the rear entrance of my dad's bar, I contemplated possibilities for why all three lawyers might have stayed behind instead of crossing over. My calculations- allowing for a 12 percent margin of error, based on the radius of the corresponding confidence interval and the surgeon general's warning- concluded that they probably didn't stay behind for the tacos."
I'm so so glad that I read this book in the privacy of my own home, away from the prying eyes and ears of the general populace so that I could guffaw and cackle at it like a raving idiot. I swear, every last sentence is funny when you have someone as awesome as Charley narrating. She's sassy, sarcastic, abrasive and at times unashamedly crass. It's OK however, because she's got the brains and balls (oops, I mean ovaries- Beam Me Up and Scotty- she named them) to back it up. Not to mention she's Death...so you couldn't really argue with her if you wanted to. Plus, she's competent and good at her job, both of them, which warrants a certain amount of respect. I literally laughed from beginning to end of this book and you couldn't have pried it out of my hands with a scythe.
There's a well rounded cast of live characters throughout to cushion the fact that well, she's really dealing with dead people so the morbidity of her situation never really catches on. Due to the nature of her job, her relationships with the living are always a little strained since she can solve crimes with inside information that it's just not possible to obtain and it makes for some incredibly funny dialogue. Then there's her own personal love ghost with his dream invasions and well, it's just HOT.
Just loved it. It brings to mind Stephanie Plum if she was smarter and more capable but Charley's antics are equally as hilarious. Book 2, Second Grave on the Left will join us this August but for now, if you've read this one (and only if you've read the book because the story contains SPOILERS) and need a fix, Darynda has written a short story for Heroes and Heartbreakers: For I Have Sinned
“We really should get some X-rays,” the EMT said to Uncle Bob as I lounged on the stretcher.
Ambulances were cool. “You just want to fondle my extraneous body parts,” I said to the EMT as I picked up a silver gadget that looked disturbingly like an alien orifice probe, broke it, then promptly put it back, hoping it wouldn’t leave someone’s life hanging in the balance because the EMT couldn’t alien-probe his orifices.
*Quotes for taken from an ARC of First Grave on the Right and may differ in the finished copy- though I sincerely hope not.