Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones

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If you hang around with dead people, life can get pretty complicated. Take it from Charley Davidson, part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper. Complicated is her middle name. The deceased find her very sparkly. Demons find her irresistible. And one entity in particular wants to seduce her in every way possible.

When Charley and Cookie (her best friend/receptionist) have to track down a missing woman, the case is not quite as open and shut as they anticipate. Cookie’s friend Mimi disappeared five days earlier. Mimi then sends Cookie a cryptic message telling Cookie to meet her at an nearby coffee shop. The coffee is brewing, but Mimi’s still missing. There is, however, a clue Mimi left on the bathroom wall: a woman’s name. Mimi’s husband explains to them that his wife had been acting strange since she found out an old high school friend had been murdered. The same woman whose name Mimi had scribbled on the bathroom wall.

Meanwhile, Reyes Alexander Farrow (otherwise known as the Son of Satan. Yes. Literally) has left his corporeal body and is haunting Charley. He’s left his body because he’s being tortured by demons who want to lure Charley closer. But Reyes can’t let that happen. Because if the demons get to Charley, they’ll have a portal to heaven…well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty.

Can Charley handle hot nights with Reyes and even hotter days tracking down a missing woman? Can she keep those she loves out of harm’s way? And is there enough coffee and chocolate in the world to fuel her as she does?

THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW

I wish this were a TV show because I would definitely marathon it.  As it is, it’s hard not to rush out and get the next book right this second.  Charley’s character is magnetic, her powers fascinating, her life thrilling.  Despite some of the issues starting to develop for me in this second installment, I very much enjoyed it and can’t wait to get a hold of book three.

What Worked for Me

Main character • • • Love for Charley still going strong.  I’d give this girl a friendship bracelet any day.  If you haven’t read this series before, Charlotte “Charley” Davidson is a feisty, smart-mouthed, clever, and compassionate grim reaper and PI.  It’s her humor that gets me, I’ll be honest.  I can’t count how many times I laughed out loud while reading this book.  It was definitely my pick-me-up book and I was sad that it was so engaging that I went through it within a day.  If you want a laugh, Charley Davidson is there for you.

Plot • • • I liked the plot of this one a bit more than the previous one.  I’m not here for the murders; I’m here for Charley Davidson, but I was more engaged in this particular mystery than First Grave on the Right.  There were several different threads, and while that may have been a smidge confusing at times, in the end, I really I liked the way they all wove together.  I’m also very interested to see how the events of this book unfold in the next.

What Didn’t

The thing about this book is, yes, it has some problems, but because I like the main character so much, I’m not too fussed about its faults.  We all have those books, right?

The love, the obsession, the melt • • • I love Charley; I think she’s precious and a total badass and totally deserves some lovin’, but thirsty girl here needs to take a cold shower.  How long am I supposed to put up with how Reyes turns her into a total flake and makes her melt?  We get it.  He’s gorgeous.  It can stopped being mentioned literally every five seconds.

Also, there’s more than a hint of instalove here, and while in this particular instance it doesn’t happen to bother me much, it does bother me a little because Charley herself is so frustrated with how little she knows about Reyes and yet she’s all “he’s the reason my heart beats” all over the place and I’m just like, “Babe, chill.”  At least she acknowledges this to a point, which is nice.

And I will say this: at least Reyes doesn’t make her spineless.  Charley is not some quiet little lamb to do what she’s told.  (But, like, not in a bitchy, petty way.  She has compelling reasons not to do what Reyes tells her to.)  I like that she doesn’t lose her sense of self even if she loses a fair margin of her dignity whenever Reyes appears.

Shaky pacing • • • This installment did feel a bit rushed.  There was a massive swerve towards the end where I was confused as hell trying to figure out how we all ended up here, but the drama of the scene made up for it a bit.  But it feels like someone should tell Darynda Jones to take a quick five and catch her breath, you know?

Takeaway

Another great episode in the life of Charlotte Davidson, grim reaper and PI extraordinaire.

Book Info

307 pages • Book 2 • Published August 2011 by St. Martin’s Press

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