Saturday, November 24, 2018

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

I might be rating this higher because I'm sick with the flu and my brain isn't working at peak capacity, but even so, I didn't fall in love with this book the way all my friends did. I'd heard mostly good things about the Charley Davidson series, but I always hesitate when I see a romance that's tagged as "humor" because it's been my experience that what most people find funny, I find lame. Case in point, WALLBANGER, which was just sad.

In terms of tone, FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT is kind of like the Stephanie Plum series or Meg Cabot's Mediator series. Charley Davidson is the human embodiment of the grim reaper. As a result, she can see dead people - lots of dead people. To them, she appears to glow like a Stephenie Meyer vampire in full sunlight, and that's because her body is the portal to the afterworld. They have to fly through her to move on.

Still with me? Okay. So her father and uncle are both cops and in her free time (read: when she's not playing the role of de facto River Styx), she works as a PI. Do her supernatural powers help her in her work? Maybe. Do people mistrust her for knowing more than she should? But of course.

Her latest case involves a whole bunch of missing kids, a crime syndicate, and human trafficking. People who were close to solving the case on their own merit, without supernatural help, are turning up dead in droves. Naturally, they're quick to offer their help to Charley, because conveniently enough, their lack of closure over the case is what's in part keeping them from moving on. Pretty soon, people are trying to off Charley too, but she has something that the other people working on the case don't: a supernatural guardian angel who likes to mind-f*ck her in the shower when he's not saving her ass. She calls the sexual smoky presence the Big Bad, but doesn't really seem worried about this otherworldly force in her life, which is funny because I kept thinking of that quote from Harry Potter: "Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain."

ANYWAY, I made it to the end of this book and it did entertain me, in between bouts of coughing, vomiting, and sneezing (woohoo). But I didn't really care for it as much as I have other paranormal romances. I think the humor actually worked against this book, to be honest. When you have a book about rape, child abuse, trafficking, and murder, trying to make it snarky and sarcastic and "cute" kind of seems grossly tone-deaf and insensitive. There's gallows humor and then there's "dude, have some proper gravitas, please" and I feel like this book falls into the latter category.

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!

2.5  out of 5 stars

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