Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones

Ouf, I'm finally done with the big experiment! And it worked! Yay! But really, the best part about big experiments is the down-time needed after to analyze the data LOL. As a result, I should have more free time to blog and review, I hope! I'll need it since my reading has picked up and I've also been obsessed with a new chinese TV series about doctors :) This week is the final week and I've been watching the episodes raw, i.e. in Cantonese. I can catch a word or two here and there LOL. Luckily, there was a nice person on the forum that translated some detailed summaries, so I can kind of follow :) Can't wait for the subbed episodes though.

Anyway, I'll make a bigger effort to review, because I have a few books I want to talk about! The first one is Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones! Enjoy!

By the way, last day to vote for the Week-End's Minis!! Poll is on the sidebar :)

***Warning: There are spoilers in this review. Read at your own risk!***

Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones
published by St. Martin's Press in January 2012
Charley Davidson—grim reaper extraordinaire, private investigator . . . meh—is practicing her profession under the influence, caffeine and copious amounts of it, due to an extreme desire to induce insomnia. Every time she closes her eyes, Reyes Farrow, the part-human, part-supermodel son of Satan, is there. Only thing is, he’s a tad peeved. She did bind him for all eternity, so it’s hard blame him. But 13 days without a wink is bound to bring out the crazy in a girl. So, when a man hires her to find his wife, Charley accepts the job with one goal in mind: Put the man behind bars, and not the wet kind. She can sense the guilt waft off him and vows to find the woman’s body and prove he’s a murderer.

In the meantime, Reyes is back in prison and none too happy about it . . . so Charley thinks, until she is carjacked by the dark-haired rake, who swears the very man he went to prison for killing is not only alive, but close by. And he wants Charley to find him.

While a visit to her old friend Rocket sheds no light on Reyes’s situation, Charley finds out the man’s wife is still alive and time is running out. Finding her before she dies would be a miracle, but she has to try. Together with the help of a fashion-impaired receptionist named Cookie, Charley sets out to bring the bad guys to justice. She just hopes Reyes is not one of them. And that she’s not hallucinating from her self-induced bout with insomnia.
Genre: Mystery with paranormal elements
Series: Charley Davidson series, Book #3

The Story: It's been almost 2 weeks since the events of Second Grave on the Left and Charley has barely slept a wink, thanks to coffee. The reason is every time she falls asleep, Reyes appears to her and they have sex... It should be a good thing, but not when he's angry at her. However, 2 weeks without sleep is definitively starting to take a toll on Charley. And suddenly, the cases start piling up.

First, there's a doctor claiming his wife has disappeared...However, with her superpowers, Charley senses foul play. The wife has disappeared all right, but she is sure the doctor is involved somehow. Second, there's Reyes who suddenly escapes prison! It turns out that while being tortured by demons in Second Grave on the Left, he learned that "his" mortal father faked his death all these years ago and is actually alive. Reyes always knew he was innocent of the crime, but this is taking it to a different level... and this time around, he's determined to find the SOB and clear his name. Finally, there's Charley's father... Charley's anger at her father has not passed and their relationship is on the rocks... but now, he wants her to change career?!?

Yep, just another week in the regular life of the Grim Reaper :)

My Opinion: The Charley Davidson series is one I've enjoyed a lot in 2011 and so, I've really been looking forward to the next installment, simply because the books are so much fun :) Seriously, I wonder how Ms Jones writes a character like Charley. LOL, the stuff that comes out of her mouth? Priceless! With the cliff-hang-ish end of Second Grave to the Left, I simply couldn't wait to get my hands on Third Grave Dead Ahead to find out what would happen next :) Overall, I did enjoy Third Grave Dead Ahead... but at the same time, I had some mixed feelings ^_^; Most probably because I'm a bit wary of the ending and the direction the series is taking.

First thing first though, what did I enjoy most in Third Grave Dead Ahead? The characters. They are the strength of this series in my opinion :) I like Charley because she's fun and despite all the things that happen, she has a positive outlook on life. I find it refreshing :) I also enjoyed how she finds herself in some ridiculous situations. Plus, her and Cookie provide a lot of LOL moments :) My description makes her sound like an airhead, but she is definitively not. As I said in my previous reviews, there is depth to Charley. She is a lot smarter than she lets on and also a competent PI. Taken all together, I find Charley to be a refreshing heroine :) It's nice that while she has unusual powers as the Grim Reaper, she's not a kick-ass heroine like we find so many in UF. Aside from Charley, we're also treated to a nice supporting cast which balance out Charley's quirkiness. Oh and I really liked the new characters introduced :) A nun that can hear angels talking? Charley's guardian? They fit right in and I'm looking forward to seeing more of them in the future. I hope they'll have a more dominant role LOL.

Another good element of Third Grave Dead Ahead is the progress in some of the relationships and the story. While not prominent, I liked that Charley's sister was in the picture and the sisters' relationship is on the mend :) I also liked that we finally find out why Officer Vaughn has been such a pain in the ass to Charley throughout the series. It's really been bothering me and I'm happy that we finally got some closure. I'm also happy to know that Officer Vaughn will probably not turn into a psycho and attack Charley in her sleep ^_^; I also thought the scene at the hospital at the end was very interesting. Charley's entourage definitively know more than they let on. It's a good thing given how much powerful she seems to become lately. As for Charley's relationship with her father... It really saddened me how fast it is degrading. I understand her father feels guilty and therefore, wants Charley to be safe... but he really took the wrong decisions. It is not the right way to make their relationship right again. I hope it can be mended :(

I thought Third Grave Dead Ahead was a very consistent book when it came to the characters and the writing; however, I found that the mystery wasn't as suspenseful as usual and as tight as usual. Perhaps it's because I'm getting used to her style so there are less surprises and instead, there is a pattern ^_^; However, I think another reason is the case Charley took this time around was very similar to the one she caught in Second Grave on the Left as both were about wives who have disappeared. Finally, I thought there were major flaws in the case involving Reyes' non-dead father and that's why I felt the mystery wasn't as tight. Some things in it just didn't make sense to me. Let say Earl Walker had really faked his death 8 years ago... Would he really hang around Albuquerque and risk discovery? Even if he followed news involving Reyes - to return and threaten Charley just didn't make sense to me. Also, it was an easy way to wrap the mystery ^_^; Also, the fact that Reyes used Charley as bait, that was a definite no-no. So stupid of him!! Especially after the events in Second Grave on the Left. Once again, you see some echoes from Third Grave Dead Ahead in Second Grave on the Left. Too many similarities in my opinion that didn't help make this book more enjoyable.

And then, there's the romance. I was really happy when I first read that Reyes' father might not be dead... because that meant somehow, Reyes would be exonerated right? It's one thing to know that Reyes didn't commit the crime, but another having a hero who's in jail ^_^; Let just say it's not easy to root for romance in such conditions LOL. Also, ever since I've started this series, I was wondering how Ms Jones would take care of this issue. And she did an okay job about it. In any case, Reyes out of prison would be yay!! Except I'm unhappy at Charley and Reyes' relationship state at the end of Third Grave Dead Ahead and also the fact that Ms Jones seemed to have introduce a love rival. Ugh!! I really hate love triangle and I hope this is not the direction Ms Jones is taking. I don't wish for the Charley Davidson series to become a series where whenever there's hope for the H/H to be together, more obstacles will be thrown in to prevent them :( I mean, it was finally clear that Garrett didn't have a chance and then comes in Donovan? And let say this was not the road that Ms Jones decide to go down with. Let say Reyes is the love of Charley's life - which I'm a firm believer of, I still wonder if/how their relationship can work out. I definitively hope that Ms Jones has it planned out. I know I said Charley reminded me of Stephanie Plum in my previous reviews... but the last thing I want is for Charley's romantic life to be like Stephanie's!! And so that's why I'm wary, sigh.

My Grade: B. I enjoyed Third Grave Dead Ahead and I thought it was a solid installment, but not as good as the two previous books when it came to the mystery side of it. Also, it left me with an uneasy feeling because I'm anxious to know what is going to happen. The good news is I'm definitively going to pick up Fourth Grave Beneath my Feet to find out and I hope Ms Jones will be choosing the direction I'm rooting for :)