Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Format: Hardcover (also available as an ebook)
Pub Date: February 2011
Publisher: St. Martins
Length: 320 pages
FTC: Purchased myself

It's been a year since I first heard about author, Darynda Jones. My friend, Sandy, mentioned her on our joint first time trip to the RT Convention in LA last April. And then I promptly forgot about both book and author. When convention time came around again, I got more nagging reminding about how awesome this author was and felt reader-shamed into picking it up.

And this handselling is from a reader/bookseller who is not normally a paranormal romance reader. So I gave it a shot.

First Grave on the Right is not a romance, exactly. It's more of a paranormal mystery caper with romantic elements. And it's clearly the beginning of a series. Also? It's written in first person, which I adore. LOVE first person narration (as long as it isn't *present* tense which makes me want to scream).  Right along with the first person POV is a ton of attitude and snark. Really, Sandy knows me quite well. Sarcastic, smart mouthed protagonist. Of course I'm going to like it!

Garrett chose that moment to join the conversation. " I appreciate your forethought," he said, his tone distant as if his mind were elsewhere. "Not as much as your fore-parts, but still..."

I twisted around in my seat to face him. "My fore-parts, as you so ineloquently put it, have names." I pointed to my right breast. "This is Danger." Then to my left. "And this is Will Robinson. I would appreciate it if you addressed them accordingly."

After a long pause in which he took the time to blink several times, he asked, "You named your breasts?"

I turned back to him with a shrug. "I named my ovaries, too, but they don't get out as much."

If you're looking for a lot of angst or depth, this isn't that book, It can be quite flippant, and that may be jarring considering the subject matter and who the characters really are. There's no real exploration of death, the afterlife, or any of that.  The tone varies only occasionally from the sarcastic to include a few, brief moments of introspection. This might be a deal-breaker for some readers. I enjoyed it, although I do think the book could have benefited from a bit more nuance.

First Grave on the Right is a (recently announced) two time RITA finalist (the award given by the Romance Writers of America) for both Best First Book and Novel with Romantic Elements. If you like light books with a dose of sexy, this would probably work well for you.

My Grade: B+

The Blurb:

Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely. 

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