Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Review: Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones

Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones
published by St. Martin's Press in August 2011
When Charley is rudely awakened in the middle of the night by her best friend who tells her to get dressed quickly and tosses clothes out of the closet at her, she can’t help but wonder what Cookie’s up to. Leather scrunch boots with a floral miniskirt? Together? Seriously? Cookie explains that a friend of hers named Mimi disappeared five days earlier and that she just got a text from her setting up a meet at a coffee shop downtown. They show up at the coffee shop, but no Mimi. But Charley finds a message on the bathroom wall. Mimi left a clue, a woman’s name. Mimi’s husband explains that his wife had been acting strange since she found out an old friend of hers from high school had been found murdered a couple weeks prior. The same woman Mimi had named in her message.

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. And if they 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? Will Cookie ever get a true fashion sense? And is there enough coffee and chocolate in the world to fuel them as they do?
Genre: Mystery with paranormal elements,
Series: Charley Davidson series, Book #2

The Story: There's never a dull moment in Charley's life. Everything starts when Charley is rudely awakened by her neighbor/secretary/best friend Cookie. Cookie's friend, Mimi, who has disappeared 5 days earlier, has just contacted Cookie to meet at a coffee shop. However, when Charley and Cookie arrive at the coffee shop, there is no sign of Mimi... Instead, there's only a name. Charley agrees to help Cookie out and investigate on Mimi's disappearance. She quickly realizes that Mimi is in trouble when she discovers that Mimi's high school entourage has been dropping dead one after another. The fake FBI agents who paid a visit to Charley were also a pretty obvious clue.

Meanwhile, Charley is heading an investigation of her own. She's looking for Reyes Alexander Farrow's body. Reyes is the entity that has been haunting her and looking over her. Reyes is also her sort-of-boyfriend and Satan's son and his physical shell is being tortured by demons who want to know her whereabouts. Soon, he won't be able to take it anymore so he's decided to let his body die... To say that Charley is not thrilled with this idea is an understatement and thus, she's determined to find him. Unfortunately, there's the slight problem that Reyes is a fugitive and therefore, Charley can not openly ask for Uncle Bob's help... And as if all this was not enough, Charley's father is acting weird. Should she worry about it?

Yep, never a dull moment.

My Opinion: Well, Second Grave on the Left was another winner for me :) I'm really liking this series so far and am happy that 1) there is little wait between the books and 2) there is going to be more than three books in this series.

Basically, everything that I enjoyed in First Grave on the Right, I found in Second Grave on the Left :) Charley is still a fun heroine, but more importantly, she's interesting and intriguing. I like that there's a lot more to Charley than meets the eyes. As I mentioned in First Grave on the Right, my first impressions of Charley was that she reminded me of Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich. Mainly because she is quite a klutz and finds herself in preposterous situations :) However, as it turns out, Charley does know what she's doing. Actually, I find Charley to be smart, savvy and competent... but she hides herself behind a veil of absurdity that makes her hilarious. Mostly, I think it's her way of protecting herself. She's different and therefore, often misunderstood and feared. She's definitively been hurt in the past - by her own stepmother and sister, but also friends... and so she maintains a distance. So that's Charley as a human... but Charley is also the grim reaper. I liked the fact that when we met Charley, she already had a handle on her abilities and her functions as the grim reaper and that she's been learning as she grew up. I like that the powers weren't just foisted on her one day. Instead, she's had a lifetime to learn and adapt. Then again, I also like the fact that Charley has a lot more power than she thought and she is slowly uncovering it. To me, it makes sense that as she learns more about the world, she learns more about her abilities and her true nature :)

Along with Charley, we have a yummy hero, Reyes :) Reyes is another interesting character and he's still quite a mystery. I find Reyes' character to be refreshing. I like how dark and ruthless and how kind he can be. He's a very ambiguous character. Good or bad? Does it really matter? What matters is that he's willing to sacrifice himself to protect Charley and that Charley loves him. I do admit I'm anxious about the romance. Is there really a way for Charley and Reyes to be together at the end? I sure hope so!! I definitively don't want a love triangle somewhere in the future... However, I have to say Charley and Reyes are quite devoted to each other so perhaps we'll be spared. It feels to me that their romance is transcending, it's been thousand of years in the making... at the same time, it is so fragile, because when it comes down to it, Charley doesn't know Reyes. She is getting to know him though and she is dealing with what she learns... LOL, as you can see, Ms Jones has me invested in this romance! Don't need to tell you this is a good thing, right? LOL.

Finally, I really enjoyed the mystery aspect of the book. The case about Mimi was interesting and quite suspenseful. I also liked that Charley is delving more into Reyes' past, finding out more about him and meeting his best friends. Most interesting is Ms Jones's good use of Charley's informants and aides which of course, are from the ghostly nature :) It gives her some leeway when it comes to the mystery because Charley gets information that usually wouldn't be available to her. At the same time, Charley actually does some investigating of her own, gets information the old fashion way. For me it works, because the ghosts are involved in both Charley's professions - PI and grim reaper - and let's face it, they make for great secondary characters :) With everything going on, Second Grave on the Left is full of action and very fast-paced; I couldn't turn the pages fast enough :) I do admit that at time, there was perhaps a bit too much going on and I was confused a little... but overall, I think Ms Jones did a great job at balancing everything and keeping the readers at the edge of their seats :)

My Grade: A-. I really enjoyed and loved Second Grave on the Left. It was a great book and my issue with it was pretty minor and will probably clear up once I re-read it at a slower pace. All in all, I'm really happy I gave this series a go and it's probably my "find" of the year so far :)


  1. I'm reading this one now, and enjoying it. I luurved First Grave on the Right, and this one's just as good, if not bad. I also like the snappy, smart-a$$ed comments she comes up with.

  2. Sounds like a series worth checking out!

  3. It sounds like you really, really liked it!
    I'm so glad, it sounds like a great series!

  4. Amy - I'm glad you're enjoying it, Amy :) I just think this series so far is fun and refreshing ;) Did you mean, "if not better" instead of bad? If that's what you meant, well I can't agree more! LOL, as you can see with this review :)

    Kailana - I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

    Alex - It is a great series so far, Alex. I'm knocking on wood that it stays that way!

  5. I just finished listening to this one and liked it too. Not quite as much as you but it's certainly interesting. I do think there was a little too much going one at times. Two story lines and the sub-plot with Charley's dad.

    I'm not liking Reyes much. His background just turns me off. LOL

    But Angel, he cracks me up. :)

  6. Leslie - Cool! Did you listen to the first one as well?

    I don't know, I'm just really enjoying these books and the series :) It might be premature though LOL... guess time will tell.

    I know what you mean. There was a lot going on, but I thought that overall, Ms Jones handled it well :)

    Awwww, Reyes' so yummy! But I know what you mean. It'll be interesting to see Ms Jones further developed him.

    Angel, Charley, Strawberry shortcakes LOL. They are all a riot :)

  7. I recently discovered that my library has the first two books of this series!! I've added them to my list. I think I'd really like them.

  8. Christine - Woohoo for you Christine!! Definitively give them a try :) I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!