Book Review: Darynda Jones’ Second Grave on the Left

Posted December 27, 2011 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Darynda Jones’ Second Grave on the Left

Second Grave on the Left


Darynda Jones

urban fantasy that was published by St. Martin's Press on August 16, 2011 and has 307 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include First Grave on the Right, Third Grave Dead Ahead, "For I Have Sinned", Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet, Death and the Girl Next Door, Fifth Grave Past the Light, Sixth Grave on the Edge, Seventh Grave and No Body, Eighth Grave After Dark, The Dirt on Ninth Grave, The Curse of Tenth Grave, Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, The Trouble with Twelfth Grave

Second in the Charley Davidson urban fantasy series about a personable grim reaper-cum-private detective-cum-police consultant in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

My Take

This was excellent although not as funny as the first story, First Grave on the Right. It took forever before I figured out that Dead Trunk Guy was supposed to be a funny bit. Too subtle for me.

There are a lot of revelations in this installment. The fear/fascination/trust her dad has about her. Neil Gossett’s stories about Reyes. A new perspective on family life after the attack on Charley and her dad. I’d sure like to know who Mr. Chao, Ulrich, and Frank Smith were and why they were sort of involved with Evil Riggs and Evil Murtaugh.

Now, the worst part. I have to wait for Third Grave Dead Ahead expected to come out in Feb 2012 to find out what happens next!

The Story

Dragging Charley from her bed at 2 a.m. and shoving bunny slippers at her, Cookie tries to force Charley into her car trunk. A car trunk that’s already occupied! With Dead Guy! Seems Cookie got a text message from an old friend to meet her. Alone. At a coffee shop. But Cookie just knows that she and Mimi will need Charley’s help. Hence the sweats and bunny slippers.

But it’s Mimi’s dilemma that has two fake FBI guys on her tail. They’re eager to find Mimi and wouldn’t mind taking Charley out as well. Nor are they the only bad guys looking for Charley, for the demons are slipping through to Earth as well, and Reyes has put his corporeal body on the line to keep them from finding her. A sacrifice that Charley refuses to accept. She wants Reyes alive. And able.

Slowly Charley and Cookie find other “accidents”/murders/suicides that are connected to Mimi; Janelle York’s death is the kicker. The same Janelle York that triggered a violent change in Mimi’s behavior in high school.

It’s a hurtful period for Charley as she’s being attacked left, right, and center: the contract killers after Mimi, demons hunting her, and Reyes, a newly-released convict, looking to hurt her dad,

Betrayals also abound. Uncle Bob has her followed. Her dad doesn’t warn her of the threats. And Charley binds Reyes into his body, forbidding his ability to escape prison. An escape he needs to stay sane.

The Characters

Charley Davidson has been a grim reaper from the day she was born. For years, she helped her father, Leland Davidson, solve cases. Once he retired from the police force, she’s been helping her Uncle Bob the same way. The dead tell her that she shines like a beacon. Her sister Gemma and stepmother Denise really hate her. Angel is a young — dead — gangbanger who helps Charley investigate.

Reyes Alexander Farrow is Lucifer’s son reborn into a human to be on the Earth at the same time as Charley. Son of Satan and more gorgeous than a super-model, Reyes escaped from prison. For killing the man who kidnapped him and abused him horrifically all his young life. His demon father wants him to find the gate to Heaven [Charley] while Reyes simply wants to be with Charley. Able to travel outside his body, Reyes shows up when Charley’s life is in danger. Kim Millar is Reyes’ sister. His unacknowledged sister. He wants her kept safe away from his problems with Hell. Charley found her in First Grave on the Right and has respected her and Reyes’ wish to keep her invisible. Amador Sanchez was Reyes’ boyhood friend and cellmate. Together, they used Reyes’ fan clubs to build a nest egg and then played the stock market to create a good life for Amador and his wife Bianca. They know all about “Dutch”.

Cookie Kowalski is Charley’s best friend and her receptionist for her private investigation business; Amber is her daughter. Neil Gossett is an old schoolmate of Charley’s; he is now the deputy warden at the prison where Reyes was incarcerated. Garrett Swope is a bounty hunter and unsure if he likes or fears Charley. Rocket Man is the ghost of a grim reaper who tracks everyone who dies on the walls of an abandoned sanitarium; his ghostly sister Blue “lives” with him.

A friend of Cookie’s, Mimi was one of a group of high schoolers whose lives changed forever. Now, someone is hunting them down and killing them. Warren Jacobs is her frantic husband charged with her disappearance. Wanda and Harold Marshal are her parents and they believe in Warren. Fellow classmates include Kyle Kirsch, the congressman planning to run for the senate; Tommy Zapata who sold a car to Cookie; Janelle Taylor, former best friend; Jeff Hargrove; Nick Velasquez; Anthony Richardson; and, Hana Insinga who has been missing for 20 years. Her disappearance was investigated by Sheriff Kirsch, Kyle’s father.

Elaine Oake is the president of one of the many fan clubs dedicated to Reyes Farrow. Officer Owen Vaughan is a friend of Gossett’s and hates Charley. In high school, he tried to run her down with an SUV. Carrie Liedell has a connection with Dead Trunk Guy which Uncle Bob appreciates.

The Cover and Title

The cover is so Charley with all the black but especially the riveted black leather belt with its rhinestoned skull buckle. I liked the touch with the necklace and “A Novel” as the pendant. Even better, the impression is black but the true colors are dark blue and lime green — yummy! And quite eye-catching.

The title is most useful as a clue as to where it falls in chronologically in the series, Second Grave on the Left.