Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: Fourth Grave Beneath my Feet by Darynda Jones

Finally a review!! My first review of the year and my first review in a long while!! LOL. Now that I've managed to write it, I hope it means I'll be getting back into a routine and the next one will be easier to write. It's awful when you fall of the bandwagon and try to get back on it ^_^;


Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet by Darynda Jones
published by St. Martin's Press in October 2012
Sometimes being the grim reaper really is that. Grim. And since Charley’s last case went so awry, she has taken a couple months off to wallow in the wonders of self-pity. But when a woman shows up on her doorstep convinced someone is trying to kill her, Charley has to force herself to rise above. Or at least get dressed. She quickly realizes something is amiss when everyone the woman knows swears she’s insane. The more they refute the woman’s story, the more Charley believes it.

In the meantime, the sexy, sultry son of Satan, Reyes Farrow, has been cleared of all charges. He is out of prison and out of Charley’s life, as per her wishes and several perfectly timed death threats. But his absence has put a serious crimp in her sex life. While there are other things to consider, like the fact that the city of Albuquerque has been taken hostage by an arsonist, Charley is having a difficult time staying away. Especially when it looks like Reyes may be involved. Just when life was returning to normal, Charley is thrust back into the world of crime, punishment, and the devil in blue jeans.
Genre: Mystery/Thriller with paranormal elements
Series: Charley Davidson, Book #4

The Story: Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet picks up two months after the events of Third Grave Dead Ahead in which Charley was used as bait by her love interest, Reyes, and ended up being tortured, almost killed. Thanks to her powers, Charley has recovered physically from her injuries, but mentally, it's another story. She hasn't stepped out of her apartment building in the two months and had no contact with Reyes or her father. However, her best friend and receptionist, Cookie, puts an end to Charley's seclusion as Charley is the heart of their PI business and they need to earn a living. Immediately, Charley is thrown back into action. First, she catches a case about a woman who swears she's being stalked and that someone wants to kill her, but nobody believes her. Then, there's been a series of bank robberies by a four-man team nicknamed the Gentlemen Thieves by the media and Charley can't help but feel there's something familiar about them. Finally, there's Reyes who's been dealing with the demons that are after Charley and him both...

My Opinion: I've enjoyed this series a lot so far - I like Charley, the goofy cast of secondary characters, her sexual tension with Reyes and the premises of the series. However, there's always a lot going on mystery-wise and it sometimes feels too much. On the other hand, the development of the overall story has been slow and I've been wondering in which direction the series was going... And as a result, the honeymoon phase of the series is over ^_^;  Still, while I wasn't anxiously looking forward to Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet as I did for the previous installments, there was no doubt in my mind that I would pick up the book. And I'm glad I did because Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet turned out to be a good, solid installment and a nice follow-up to Third Grave Dead Ahead :)

What I enjoyed most about Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet was the focus on Charley. In previous installments, we got to know Charley through the investigations and action, but it was mostly glimpses, especially since Charley has a tendency to hide her depth behind her big and eccentric personality :P In this book though, I feel we saw more of her true personality as readers were shown how Charley was coping with the aftermath of the events of Third Grave Dead Ahead. It was more focused on Charley's feelings and therefore it seemed like there was more development. This also meant the different cases weren't as convoluted and that wasn't a bad thing in my opinion. As a result, the story-telling in Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet was smoother, easier to follow and less rushed in my opinion :)

After reading Third Grave Dead Ahead, I admit I was a bit concerned about where the romance was going in the series ^_^; With the introduction of the biker, Donovan, I was worried we were heading into the dreaded love triangle. One of the things I love the most about this series is Charley's relationship with Reyes. It's really not clear-cut given Reyes' character, actions and background, but there's such a connection between Charley and Reyes... and after everything that Reyes has gone through, well I just can't help but root for them to be together. So I'm happy that in Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet, Charley and Reyes finally had real sex instead of dream sex LOL. It just seems to cement their relationship more. By the way, just putting it out there, but Reyes continues to be sexy as hell! LOL. Anyway, what I didn't like as much though is how Ms Jones dealt with Donovan's character. It kind of makes his character superfluous and I can't help but wonder why he was introduced in the first place. In addition, I wonder if this was Ms Jones' intentions all along or something pushed her to change her plans for the character. I guess I'll find out as the series continues on. And speaking of relationship, I wonder if Garrett and Gemma will hook up. I think that would be an interesting pairing :)

Story-wise, I have to say the mystery in Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet wasn't as strong as in previous installments. The case about the woman who is being stalked had a very good twist to it, but that was pretty much it. I didn't feel like Charley did a lot of investigation, but then again, she knew something we - the reader - didn't know :) The case about the bank robberies had a purpose, but otherwise, I really could have done without it. What worked for me though was I felt there was development to the overall story of the series. First, Reyes and Charley were moving forward and we also got more glimpses at Reyes which were interesting. Then, you had Charley actually dealing with demons and that's what made the story advanced in my opinion. The whole demon possession of clairvoyants was also very interesting and so was the new secondary character, Quentin :) The only thing I found unfortunate is that Quentin was relegated to the background after being introduced, but I'm guessing Ms Jones is setting it up for the next books. While there was development to the series, I admit that I'm still wondering where the whole series is heading to and I think it's time that Ms Jones starts dealing with that and gives her readers bigger clues.

My Grade: B. As I mentioned above, Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet was another solid installment in the series and I enjoyed it more than Third Grave Dead Ahead. However, it gets the same grade because while I was happy the book focused more on Charley and the overall story, the mystery was on the weaker side and I can't help but question some of the characters and elements pertinence ^_^; Still, I recommend this series to everyone who wants LOL moments :)