[ Book Review ] Come visit Second Grave on the Left

Advance Review: Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones

(Charley Davidson Book #2)

Remember when I said I wouldn’t be getting the second Charley Davidson book? I lied.

The Story:

Charley likes her sleep and loves her coffee. So when her best friend wakes her up in the middle of the night, pulls her down the stairs to her car, and tries to stuff her in the trunk–without coffee–Charley is not a happy camper. It isn’t long before she’s dragged (quite literally) into a mystery involving a presidential hopeful, a missing woman, and a secret from twenty years ago. It’d just be another case for Charley Davidson, Private Investigator, except she also needs to track down her fugitive boyfriend, figure out how a dead guy got into her best friend’s car, and prevent the apocalypse. Good thing she’s secretly the Grim Reaper.

Second Grave on the Left  is Darynda Jones’s second book, and, for me, also suffers from some of the issues I mentioned in my review of First Grave on the Right. But I am also smugly pleased to say that I was right; the series does get better. Here are a few highlights:

The Good: There’s more than one mystery demanding Charley’s unique detective skills. It’s a very nice change from the kind of mystery I’m used to seeing in books like Storm Front or Moon Called where I can count on absolutely every insignificant event being somehow connected to a single case.

It’s also a lot more realistic. Charley’s life doesn’t stop just because her boyfriend is being tortured (even if a small part of me thinks it should). There’s a subplot for everyone.

The Bad: There’s more than one mystery demanding Charley’s unique detective skills. The story is split, and there’s an awful lot going on. Four parallel and completely independent plots are a bit much; you’d have to work to convince me that the story did any of them full justice.

The Good: Our Charley is spunky, fearless, and very much unafraid to speak her mind. Her thoughts are filled with sarcastic quips and offbeat humor.

The Bad:  What does it say that I sensed no difference between Drugged To Her Gills Charley’s narrative voice and Normal Charley’s thought patterns? Also: her apparent inability to feel fear left me gnawing on the edge of my mini book light each time she failed to react to danger or imminent death in any way resembling human.

The Good: It’s not all rainbows and sunshine when it comes to relationships and Charley’s family members refuse to be pigeonholed–even within Charley’s mind. Two revelations about the people closes to her shake her to the core.

The Bad: With so much going on, these characters (and revelations) got a lot less read time than I thought they deserved.

The Good: Reyes Alexander Farrow.

The Bad: I had to stop and wonder at that relationship a few times. There is a Twilight-esque element to the romance: He’s gorgeous and wants to stay away for her safety’s sake; she doesn’t care. He watches her sleep; she sparkles…

I will be brutally honest. I struggled with the first third of this book. Charley seemed to be trying to hard to be clever (again) but came across as immature and whiny instead (again). Then there was the story’s pacing (again).

And then, sometime around halfway through, the book discovered its stride. I knew you had it in you, story! Events sobered our heroine up, took her by the shoulders and gave her a hard shake. By the time the last few chapters rolled around, it had me. Second Grave on the Left’s ending has convinced me to jot down the third Charley Davidson book on my To Read list.

By the time the finish rolled around, I could see Ms. Jones building up a larger story arc for the series, planning ahead, introducing characters and events that I just know will be important later on.

Third Grave Dead Ahead, I want you.


You can see the book giveaway results here!

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