First Grave on the Right

First Grave on the Right - Darynda Jones Charlie Davidson, perhaps the only person who can live up to that name, is a reaper. The Grimm Reaper to be precise. She sees dead people, talks to them and helps them on their way as a walking portal to the afterlifeIt also helps her as a PI – and her cop uncle – in solving murder cases for the police, being able to talk to the murdered victims and learn exactly where the bodies are buried and who the killer is will do that. Of course, it doesn’t win her many fans or converts and more than a few are suspicious of her, Garret Swopes for one.Then she is approached by 3 ghosts – we dead lawyers from the same firm, murdered over the same case, a man wrongfully convicted for the murder of a teenaged boy. In investigating, she also finds keys to a mystery from her past – a stranger shadowy figure that follows her and saves her from danger; admittedly by severing people’s spines. She may now find the truth about him – and work to save his life for a change.The grim reaper is always an interesting aspect to take on in Urban Fantasy that can bring with it a lot of interesting points with it. It can also be just another way of saying “medium” or “necromancer.” I think so far Charlie is in the latter category but there are a lot of hints that there’s a whole lot more to come. Of course, as it stands we have a person who can see the dead working with the police force as a private detective…… I know! I know! It’s so very overdone that your eyes are already rolling. Magical powers, private detective, works for the police, it has been done and done and done. Yet this one works and is far more than the pattern we’ve all seen established so many times over. The way she interacts with people around her, the way she uses her powers, the way she investigates all comes together to be far more than the sum of its parts. This is classic proof that an overused pattern can still have fresh life breathed into it and still create and original, interesting and excellently fun story.If I had to dredge up criticism of the plot it would be that we had too much happening in the middle. Too many lines on the same plot left me confused at times, trying to figure out exactly what was happening and how all these leads fit together; her own project looking for Reyes coupled with the dead lawyers and the missing children and the wrongfully convicted man caused me to pause now and then to remember how they all fit together into one case – more or less.But it’s a small complaint and stems as much from the book being the first in a series as much as anything, so everything is a learning curve. The pacing and action are both generally excellent and kept me reading without a second’s hesitationAnd it’s funny. Really really funny. I always have high marks for any book that can make me laugh out loudCharlie Davidson is one of the better Urban Fantasy protagonists out there. In fact I love her. Her snark, her sarcasm and her sense of the ridiculous make her immense fun to read. And her breasts – Danger and Will Robinson. And she has so much fun as well – she like living, she has fun. She certainly has moments of guilt and sadness – like many Urban Fantasy protagonists, she has a sad and tragic childhood, but it doesn’t consume her. She doesn’t wallow or rant for pages of grief and she gets through most of the book with a sense of joy and amusement even when things aren’t going well. She does have uncertainties and worries and bad experiences with sharing her abilities with the wrong person and she certainly worries about them – but that doesn’t become the be all and end all of her character like so many UF protagonists. She is so free of so many of the tropes I’ve come to know and loathe.Read More