First Grave on the Right
“I see dead people” has got to be one of the most famous movie lines of all time. Recounting the number of puns I have seen made of this infamous line would be nigh on impossible. But imagine if you actually did see dead people. All the jokes probably wouldn’t be as funny then.
Charley Davidson remembers every moment of her life. Every one from the moment she first slipped into the doctor’s arms to today. And for every one of them Charley has been able to see dead people. She’s been able to talk to them. And she has been able to help them pass into the light. It’s her job; she is, after all, the Grim Reaper. Fortunately, the job doesn’t require that hideous outfit so often depicted in the media. Nor does it require her to live on the other plane. She lives here and does just fine, thank you very much.
Well, mostly fine. This week Charley is having some problems. Her PI job involving an abusive spouse has been a bit more bother than expected. And she has three dead lawyers haunting her wanting a bit of justice. All three had been murdered, but the perpetrator evades them. This is where Charley comes in. Finding the guy and bringing him to justice is part of what she does to help others move on. Complicating matters is the fact that Charley seems to have a rather sexy visitor from the other plane. Who is he? What does he want? And why is he so determined to share some rather incredibly erotic moments with her? Good thing Charley’s a multit-tasker. Not many people would be able to catch a specter, catch a killer, deal with a dead-beat spouse and continue urging people towards the light.
This debut novel is sure to be the first in a hilarious and intriguing paranormal series. Charley is a fantastic character – funny, sarcastic, and action oriented – and she has a group of friends who are equally so. She is close to most of her family (not her step-monster) and fortunately for us, the relatives are all pretty terrific. Her father, an ex-cop, runs a bar at which Charley stops for more than the occasional meal. And her Uncle Bob – a current cop – is Charley’s eyes and ears within the department. He loves to do it. Having Charley along talking to dead people has helped him clear more cases than anyone else on the force.
The writing here is very good. Ms. Jones has a fair talent for sarcasm and snark which she employs often. She is able to blend zany with believable so that we get a fun but not ridiculous tale. And her characters are very likable; even the three dead lawyers are enjoyable and three dimensional. She also does an outstanding job of explaining her universe. She doesn’t fall into expository paragraphs or long explanations, but doles the information out in exactly the right doses. This really doesn’t read like a debut as far as the writing goes. It is just that well written.
The one fly in the ointment was the hero. I am not going to reveal who it is – sort of a surprise – but part of the problem is we just don’t get to know him that well. What we learn of him is interesting, but it didn’t explain much. Part of this is, I think, deliberate. The unveiling of the hero as a solid character will probably come over the course of the next few novels. Still, I would have preferred something more. As it was he served more as interruption and disruption in the narrative than an important part of it.
Still, this little gem comes thisclose to being a DIK. It is a wonderful paranormal read and I strongly recommend it to any fan of that genre.