Second Grave on the Left
Published 2011 307 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
If you hang around dead people, life can get pretty complicated. Take it from Charley Davidson, part-time PI and full-time grim-reaper. The deceased find her very sparkly, and demons find her irresistible. However, Charley doesn’t have time to dwell on this: she’s got a missing woman to track down.
Meanwhile, Reyes Alexander Farrow (otherwise known as the Son of Satan) is haunting Charley. He’s left his corporeal body because he’s being tortured by demons who want to lure Charley closer. But if the demons get to her, they’ll have a portal to heaven. Can Charley handle hot nights with Reyes and even hotter days tracking down a missing woman? And can she keep those she loves out of harms way?
Second Grave on the Left is the second novel in Darynda Jones’ hilarious Charley Davidson Grim Reaper urban fantasy series. Events in Second Grave start barely a week after the dramatic conclusion to the first novel. The characters and background events are continued on from that novel so although Charley has a new mystery to solve in this instalment, this is a book best read in series order. If you haven’t yet read First Grave on the Right, be warned this review contains spoilers for that story.
This time around Charley is hired to find Mimi Jacobs, a woman who has disappeared from home. Her initial research reveals that a high school friend of Mimi’s had just been murdered and it isn’t long before Mimi’s disappearance starts to look more like foul play. This who-dun-it mystery makes up the majority of the story’s plotline. The plotting is sound, the mystery suitability obtuse and there are no shortage of dangerous shootouts and confrontations with bad guys to speed the story forward. Second Grave has the same comic influences and madcap style as the previous novel, so there are plenty of laughs and a plethora of sarcastic banter along the way.
The other part of the plotline concerns Charley’s supernatural abilities and responsibilities as a Grim Reaper. Her ability to see the dead doesn’t play a large role in helping Charley solve Mimi’s disappearance. Unlike the previous novel she isn’t visited by the ghosts of murder victims wanting to help her solve their murders. This time the supernatural stuff revolves around Reyes, previously revealed to be the Son of Satan, who has been protecting Charley from danger and demons her entire life with his incorporeal body (and powerful supernatural abilities.) Reyes is Charley’s love interest, but unlike in First Grave on the Right there is precious little time for romance, or hot/weird incorporeal sex, since the couple spend all their time together arguing. Reyes has hidden his corporeal body and is leaving it die, preferring to exist as a spirit but Charley is determined to save his physical shell… and they just can’t agree over this.
Second Grave on the Left is a good follow-up to First Grave on the Right. It sees Darynda Jones expand on the fun story telling style that she used to introduce her characters and fantasy world. Like most fantasy novelists the author is increasing the protagonist’s supernatural skills with each instalment, with Charley learning what it means to be a Grim Reaper (beyond her obvious talents for being able to see the dead.)
While the romance element of this story may fall a little flat, the mystery and action parts of the book give readers plenty of entertainment so there is little cause for complaint. If you liked Darynda Jones’ previous novel then there is no reason not to enjoy Second Grave on the Left. Second Grave’s cliff-hanger ending pretty much guarantees that readers will be lining up to get Third Grave Dead Ahead the third book in the series due out January 2012.
Rating: This book is rated down half a point because it doesn’t feature vampires (it’s a site rule!)
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