Charley Davidson, Book 1
Reviewed Jan. 2019
Narrator: Lorelei King
Length: 8 hours 58 minutes
Publisher: Macmillan Audio⎮2011
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Charlotte “Charley” Davidson is not your stereotypical Grim Reaper. She’s sexy, sassy, and likes to help dead people with unfinished business before they cross. She’s more of a bright light kind of girl than a hood with an axe. For her day job, Charley is an Albuquerque private investigator and a consultant to her police detective uncle. Lately, her nights have been steamed up with dreams of a hot mystery lover who may or may not be real. It’s chick-lit meets paranormal with a touch of mystery in the buzz-worthy First Grave on the Right.
Inevitably, this book will be compared to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. They both have feisty female protagonists, snappy dialogue, and zany characters. Veteran narrator Lorelei King also performs the Stephanie Plum books and is well-cast in this novel. What makes her fantastic in the Plum series is her ability to define the voices of all the secondary characters and inject them with interest and distinct personalities. In this performance, she does not disappoint. King seamlessly switches among the characters and has fantastic comedic timing. She elevates the work and keeps the laughs coming.
This is a debut novel from Darynda Jones. It will not be her last; this is clearly a launch for a series. There’s quite a bit of set-up as Charley begins to understand more of her abilities and the presence of other supernatural beings. Jones has created an interesting premise and characters. The mystery element is weak, however, and the writing is on the mediocre side. Jones is at her best with witty dialogue and keeps things moving at a brisk pace. Overall, it’s a fun, breezy listen and an enjoyable escape.
Fans of Janet Evanovich, Lorelei King, and paranormal romance will want to give this new series a listen.
The Audiobookworm's Review
Rating: 4 Stars
This wasn't my first go around with First Grave on the Right, but it was the first time I made it all the way through. I've been on a PNR (Paranormal Romance) kick lately. To be honest, I could do without most of the romance, but it's so hard to find good paranormal books without it. PNR has basically consumed the paranormal genre, but that's a rant for another day.
Whatever you call it (PNR/Urban Fantasy), I still enjoyed it. I'm so glad I was able to get through (and enjoy) this book because this is a series that I've been wanting to get into for a while. It's always high everyone's lists of favorite Urban Fantasy/Paranormal series and I was really bummed the first time around when I wasn't blown away by it. I wasn't blown away by it this time either and it's leagues away from the likes of Mercy Thompson or even Sookie Stackhouse, but it was good enough that I was able to finish it in just a couple days.
Charley Davidson was likable enough as a protagonist. I mean, I wouldn't fall on my sword for her or anything, but she was more than tolerable. I could see her growing on me as I continue with the series. Maybe I'm finally acclimating to the PNR genre, but the romantic pairing in First Grave on the Right, actually sort of worked for me. I like that it wasn't run-of-the-mill and it certainly wasn't predictable, especially with one half of the pairing being incorporeal. The big twist at the end regarding the Reyes' identity really surprised me. I'm not sure how to feel about it at this point, so I'll wait for a few more installments before passing judgment.
The only character I didn't really care for was Cookie. Evening her name is annoying. She came across as really trope-ish to me. Other than that, I have no real complaints with First Grave on the Right. The episodic mystery didn't do a lot for me (I can't even remember it), but the larger mystery involving Reyes and Charlie's identities/connection was super intriguing. We were given just enough of a resolution at the end of First Grave on the Right to make me want to continue on with the series right away. This is clearly something that will be an overarching plot throughout the series and I am more than ready to let it string me along. This is definitely a binge-able series, so watch out for a series review once I'm finally finished with it.
Narration review: The phenomenal Lorelei King narrated First Grave on the Right. She also narrated the Mercy Thompson series, of which I am a huge fan. King carried me half way through this audiobook before I really became invested in Charley. Her voice is the stuff dreams are made of. It's absolutely heavenly. To begin with, my subconscious was making connections between Charlie Davidson and Mercy Thompson (because they are both voiced by King) and, on some level, I think that helped me draw more parallels between the two, which certainly aided my overall enjoyment.
King is a wonderful performer, so if you have a chance to hear First Grave on the Right, jump at it! Knowing that she is the narrator makes me want to continue with the series even more, just to hear more of King's voice. ♣︎