ARC Review + Charley Davidson Tidbits | First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

When I found out there was a reread tour for the Charley Davidson series to celebrate the release of the last book in the series, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I’ve read quite a few Urban Fantasy books this year (thanks in large part to my Kate Daniels reread,) and one more added to the bunch was icing on the cake. And boy am I glad I picked this up! I’ve now added another series to my to be read pile, and it seems like I am jumping on the bandwagon just in time with the release of the series finale, Summoned to the Thirteenth Grave, right around the corner! Don’t forget to scroll down to read some fun tidbits straight from Darynda Jones about each installment of the Charley Davidson series!

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publication Date: February 1st, 2011
ARC from Netgalley

This whole grim reaper thing should have come with a manual.
Or a diagram of some kind.
A flow chart would have been nice.

Charley Davidson is a part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper. Meaning, she sees dead people. Really. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (like murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely. But what does he want with Charley? And why can’t she seem to resist him? And what does she have to lose by giving in?

| Book Review |

First things first: if you’re looking for a good time, First Grave on the Right is the book for you. Charley and her gang of friends, family, and acquaintances were so much fun. I wanted to climb into the pages of this book and hang out with them. Charley Davidson sees dead people. Some of them, anyway, and while her special gift has had a huge hand in helping her father and uncle solve crimes, it hasn’t endeared her to many other people. In fact, it’s made her the butt of a lot of jokes and left her without someone she thought was a friend on more than one occasion. But Charley has a lot of good in her life – her dad and her Uncle Bob, her neighbor, Cookie, and Cookie’s daughter, Amber, and finally her dream lover. (Anyone know where I can get one of those?) I loved the entire concept of dream lover from the beginning. It was sexy as all get out, and it made for a good mystery while Charley tried to figure out what the heck was going on. But at least she was waking up with a big old smile every morning! I loved Charley’s relationship with her father and her Uncle Bob, and I think the relationship with her stepmother really added another layer to the story and made you realize just how much was at stake once Charley came clean about who she was with people. Her stepmother’s betrayal was perhaps the biggest, but like in all things, Charley tries to push it off with a well-timed joke. So the particulars of the installment that kicks off the series is that after three lawyers are murdered, it’s thought a man may have been convicted of a murder he didn’t commit. Hijinks and detective work ensue, and I was charmed by it all. It wasn’t entirely unexpected; I knew I was going to like Charley. But what surprised me was how much I came to love the departed people around her. There are some that have been around for a while, and then some who are only here until their business is finished, but they’re all interesting and coming to terms with the fact that they’ve recently passed away. They really added a poignancy to the story that made me love it even more. And the way Charley was with them was so revealing about her character and her heart. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention her hilariously heated rivalry with Garrett, Danger and Will Robinson, and Charley’s Misery. They were just even more fun in a story that was already brimming with it.

The one thing I will say is that near the end, with the scene when oodles of information about her dream lover was imparted, it felt a bit overwhelming. I think it’s something that would have served the story better if it had been given to the reader in bread crumbs instead of all at once. But honestly, that’s such a small gripe and personal preference on my part. It did nothing to take away how much I loved this story.

First Grave on the Right definitely had some serious parts, but it was laced with enough humor to make you feel like you were having fun regardless. If Charley was garnering grave information from someone, part of you was giggling about how she did it while your heart was breaking for the information being imparted. And that really is this book in a nutshell – it was full of heart and excitement, and I cannot wait to read more of this series!

| Rating |

Series Reading Order





| Coming Soon! |


Charley Davidson, Grim Reaper extraordinaire, is pissed. She’s been kicked off the earthly plain for eternity – which is the appropriate amount of time to make a person starkraving mad. But someone’s looking out for her, and she’s allowed to return after a mere hundred years in exile. Is it too much to hope for that not much has changed? Apparently it is. Bummer.

She’s missed Reyes and her daughter, Beep, but now that she’s back on earth, it’s time to put to rest burning questions that need answers. What happened to her mother? How did she really die? Who killed her? And are cupcakes or coffee the best medicine? It all comes to a head in an epic showdown between good and evil in this final smart and hilarious novel.

Pre-order Summoned to the Thirteenth Grave here.

| Charley Davidson Fun Fact List |

First Grave on the Right

  • The concept for First Grave came about while Darynda was working as a sign language interpreter in her hometown. She stole many of the names from students at the schools where she worked, including Reyes, Garrett, and Amber. As far as Darynda knows, they have all forgiven her for her thievery.

Second Grave on the Left

  • Uncle Bob is a combination of two people: Darynda’s oldest brother, Luther, and the principal at the high school where she worked for several years.

Third Grave Dead Ahead

  • This was originally titled Third Grave Straight Ahead, but Darynda’s web designer, Liz Bemis, asked her to change the name to Dead Ahead. Firstly, it fit the content better, and secondly, Liz got tired of spelling the word Straight wrong while updating the website. Dead is much easier to type.

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet

  • Quentin Rutherford makes his first appearance in this book. While his first name was stolen from Darynda’s little brother and his last name stolen from yet another Jr. High student, Quentin is physically sculpted from her oldest son, Jerrdan, a bona fide blond-haired, blue-eyed devil with a sparkling smile that melts even the staunchest of hearts. And, like Quentin Rutherford, he was born Deaf. Not that he let it stop him for a second.

Fifth Grave Past the Light

  • This book was fun to write! Darynda was trying to come up with something truly creepy to throw into the book, and she figured what would be creepier than having an apartment full of departed women crawling up the walls, skittering across the ceiling, and huddling in the corners? Also, it is one of the hotter books, so that was fun, too. Because, you know, Reyes.

Sixth Grave on the Edge

  • Darynda really wanted to open this one on a humorous note. She wanted to have Charley on a stakeout with a departed elderly man, who also happens to be naked, riding shotgun. Which begs the question: Are we really stuck in (or out of) whatever we are wearing when we die for all eternity? ‘Cause that would suck.

Seventh Grave and No Body

  • Osh’ekiel was originally supposed to be in one book only. And he was supposed to be a very bad guy. But Darynda fell in love with him while writing the book and decided to redeem him and give him a bigger role. Just how big his role would become didn’t come to Darynda until plotting Eighth Grave. He has been one of her favorite characters since she wrote that first scene with him.

Eighth Grave After Dark

  • Darynda wanted to really turn the tables on Charley and force her to have to stay in one place, thus the sacred ground of the convent came into play. It was fun and challenging to write a “locked room” mystery, so to speak, but that’s why she loves writing so much.

The Dirt on Ninth Grave

  • One of Darynda’s favorite books in the series, she looked forward to writing this book ever since she came up with the concept while plotting Sixth Grave. Part of what makes a romance so fun is the falling-in-love part, and she wanted Charley to fall in love with Reyes all over again. This book was doubly fun because the audience knows all the characters’ backstories, and they get to watch in anticipation as Charley slowly unravels the mysteries of her past, while seeing her fall head-over-heels for the same guy all over again.

The Curse of Tenth Grave

  • This book had one of those too-close-for-comfort calls. Right before Tenth Grave went to print, after going through editors and copyeditors and readers of all shapes and sizes, a savvy proofreader let Darynda in on a little secret: A Sherpa is part of a culture, not an occupation. Thanks to this razor-sharp reader, Darynda narrowly escaped insulting an entire culture in one fell swoop. Aka, her worst nightmare. Her gratitude is unending.

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight

  • Darynda dreamed of going to Scotland for so long, she finally decided to just put it in one of her books. She had Charley accidently materialize in the magical country, only to find out weeks after finishing the book that she would finally get to go there herself. In person. For realsies. It was even more magical than she’d imagined it would be, and she can’t wait to go back.

The Trouble with Twelfth Grave

  • This book has one of Darynda’s favorite epiphanies EVER!!! She thought, what if someone out there in the universe, a child perhaps, knows everything about Reyes and Charley? Everything starting from their supernatural heritage to their human identities? And what if that person wrote a book about them? Or a series of books? Say, perhaps, a set of children’s books and Garrett just happens to stumble upon them while doing research? How fun would that be? And the international bestselling children’s book (fictionally speaking) The First Star was born.

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave

  • By far the hardest story in the series to write, penning the last Charley book was a bittersweet experience. But Darynda knew she had to go big or go home, so what better way to go out with a bang than to end the world as we know it by starting the zombie apocalypse? Because that’s what writers do. We start apocalypses.

| about the author |

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author DARYNDA JONES won a Golden Heart and a RITA for her manuscript First Grave on the Right. A born storyteller, she grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike. Darynda lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.

Twitter || Facebook || Website

8 thoughts on “ARC Review + Charley Davidson Tidbits | First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Add yours

  1. Yay! A new fan. I’m so envious of you, Angie. I am definitely going to do a reread, but there is nothing like the first time. 🙂


  2. I’ve read First Grave, Angie, and I’m going to be working at catching up in this series in preparation for the final book. I fell for Charley and her gang so I’m excited! I look forward to seeing your thoughts as you re-read. 🙂


  3. This is such a great series! I’m glad you really enjoyed it. I fell behind on these books but I hope to catch up with Charley and Reyes soon.


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