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Book 70: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones


UK cover
Book 70: First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson #1).
Author: Darynda Jones, 2011
Genre: Urban Fantasy. Paranormal Romance. Ghosts.
Other Details: Paperback. 310 pages.

Charlotte Davidson has a day job as a private investigator but she discovered at the tender age of five that she was the Grim Reaper tasked with assisting the corporally challenged to deal with their unfinished business and encouraging them to then cross over. So when three lawyers from the same law firm are murdered they naturally come to Charley to help find their killer. Meanwhile, Charley has been having a series of vivid erotic dreams and has a sense that there is more to them than just wish fulfilment.

I had heard quite a few good things about this series and it didn't disappoint being both fun & sexy with an intelligent, sophisticated protagonist in Charley Davidson. I was a little confused at the outset about Charley describing herself as 'The' Grim Reaper in contrast to other fictional ghost whisperers such as TV's Melinda Gordon (I miss Jennifer Love Hewitt's wardrobe!) or Meg Cabot's Mediator. The reason for this distinction is revealed in the course of the novel. Interestingly, on Jones' website she says she had initially planned for Charley to be "more like a sarcastic version of The Ghost Whisperer" and her then agent said that had been done to death and urged the change in reaper status. I am quite interested to see how Jones develops this aspect.


US cover
As I am currently listening to one of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels, I could see a certain similarity in personality between Stephanie and Charley. Both share a sassiness and sense of humour as narrators that appealed to me. I could see from from other reviews that I wasn't alone in making this connection. Both women come across as warm-hearted and I enjoy spending time with them as they recount their adventures.

Again, I was interested in looking at the differences in cover art for the UK & US editions. The UK edition has the model chosen to represent Charley in a coquettish pose. The US cover is more dramatic with its silver and white colour scheme but only shows the lower half of Charley's body and a small scythe. I am with _ocelott_ in finding the trend for cover art featuring models with no heads or showing only body parts disturbing (her recent post on genrereviews Off With Her Head! explores this). Saying that, I do feel that the use of colour in the US edition works better than the rather generic cover for the UK edition, which could be interchangeable with any number of paranormal romances.

'First Grave on the Right' on Darynda Jones' website - contains Chapter 1 excerpt.
Tags: crime fiction, ghosts, paranormal, romance, urban fantasy
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