First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones


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?

With scorching-hot tension and high-octane humor, First Grave on the Right is your signpost to paranormal suspense of the highest order.


I didn’t know what to expect when I picked this up.  I’d gone through a stint of murder mystery urban fantasies and they were mostly let-downs, but not this one.  First Grave on the Right was an incredibly fun read.  And while I wasn’t in it for the mystery (I’m not a huge fan of whodunits), I will definitely stick around for the character, Charley, who is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

What Worked for Me

The characters • • • No offense to the others, but Charley is my favorite.  She was a great narrator with her sharp wit and Gilmore Girls-style humor.  I was constantly laughing out loud.  But beyond her humor, she’s just the kind of woman that’s easy to cheer for because she’s not perfect, but she does her best, and she’s compassionate but also kickass.

The idea • • • I love the concept of there being a single grim reaper in the world–I mean, the responsibility, right?  And on top of every day things like trying to make a living, have a social life, solve murders, etc.  Also, she can speak every language known to man, which I would choose as my superpower if I had one.  And the whole thing with her mystery man?  I’m here for it.

What Didn’t

The world • • • This is less a complaint and more of a disclaimer: There’s a lot that isn’t truly explained, but it’s written in a way that you understand why.  If you want to find out everything, you have to be in it for the long haul.  This book was a mere episode in the show that is Charley Davidson’s life, so if you want to learn more, you have to stay tuned.


A fun, quick read that was well worth the time.  I am definitely continuing with the series.

Book Info

310 pages • Book 1 • Published February 2011 by St. Martin’s Press

View on Goodreads


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