Book Review: Darynda Jones’ Sixth Grave on the Edge

Posted February 14, 2015 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’ Sixth Grave on the Edge

Sixth Grave on the Edge


Darynda Jones

urban fantasy in Hardcover edition that was published by St. Martin's Press on May 20, 2014 and has 326 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include First Grave on the Right, Second Grave on the Left, Third Grave Dead Ahead, "For I Have Sinned", Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet, Death and the Girl Next Door, Fifth Grave Past the Light, 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

Sixth in the Charley Davidson urban fantasy series and revolving around a funky grim reaper in New Mexico.

There’s a bonus chapter in here at the end (the book says it’s only available in the print version) which has Reyes’ point-of-view about Charley. It’s very sweet and talks about his feelings for Charley.

My Take

It’s a sad comparison of Charley with Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum. Yes, they’re both bumbling, but Stephanie’s bumbling about feels more real. She is really trying to do right. Charley’s, well, she’s more of an immature, blunt instrument who acknowledges her lame lack of planning but refuses to do anything about it. She can also be amazingly stupid, I mean, how can one person possibly lose $17 million in the first hand of a poker game? Especially when she has outside help. For that matter, why would one play poker for high stakes if she had no idea how to play it?

Then there’s the care she takes with that knife. Oh, brother. No sense of tactics. That scene with Angel over not being able to summon ghosts? Jesus, her stupid protestations went on forever. Why not just try it??

She doesn’t care that she causes those who love her fear and worry. Nor does she seem to realize how rude the rest of her behavior is. Makes me wonder if Denise doesn’t have a very good point! It’s a crude attempt to make Charley someone we can bond to and/or to create drama and tension. I find her incredibly annoying with this stupid trope and wish Jones would put more thought and effort into this. I wish I understood why Charley keeps Reyes at a distance. I suspect it’s to provide more tension, but that’s just a guess. I reckon, Jones is simply being consistent in not thinking too hard.

That said, I do like the twist Jones has put on the whole grim reaper characterization, and she has provided several interesting overall series conflicts: Charley’s encounters with the dead, solving crime via the dead, and sending them on; the Reyes love interest aspect; and the confusing prophecies of Charley’s unknown mission and how Reyes will affect the future with her help or destruction. Now Jones has added the mysterious mission of Charley’s father and Denise’s reveal. Although, I gotta say, Denise has the major responsibility in this. She was, after all, supposedly the adult in this.

It’s sweet that, as the dead pass through Charley, she sees vignettes of their lives.

I like the characters as well. Cookie is a treat as is Ubie. Angel is fun, and Garrett is an intriguing mystery. Mr. Wong certainly raises some interesting questions, and I do like Quentin.

As for Charley’s sense of humor…for the most part I enjoy it. Those hashtags crack me up and certainly bring Charley into today. I could do without her naming everything, though. Will and Danger and Misery are one thing, but when you start naming the couch…*shakes her head*…oh, boy. I’m really impressed she can remember all this! Oh, and George is the showerhead.

I am curious as to why the bad guys target Charley. Surely FBI agents are friends with other people?

All that said, Sixth Grave on the Edge doesn’t advance us anywhere significant in the overall series plan. It’s simply Charley running about being herself. Oh, I forgot, she does finally give Reyes an answer.

The Story

It’s a mad mix of cases for Charley: the FBI file on Reyes’ childhood happens to land in her lap, a naked corpse is riding shotgun in her car, a man loses his soul in a card game, a deaf boy sees dead people, a woman is running from mobsters, and then there’s the very suspicious Reyes… Things can’t get any worse for Charley.

Unless, of course, the Twelve Beasts of Hell are unleashed.

The Characters

Charley Davidson, Reyes calls her Dutch, is a grim reaper made human who happens to live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, working as a private investigator. Yeah, I think he’s another reason I like reading this, lol. Misery is Charley’s beloved, much reconstituted Jeep. Artemis is a spirit Rottweiler who protects Charley. Zeus is the name she gave a supernatural knife Garrett found for her. Cookie Kowalski is her receptionist and best friend, who is in love with a non-responsive Robert. Amber is Cookie’s daughter.

Reyes Alexander Farrow, a.k.a., Rey’aziel, was finally freed of prison when it was proved that the man he supposedly murdered was actually alive. He’s also the Son of Satan. Amador is pretty much Reyes’ only friend. He’s married to Bianca and they have two kids: Ashley and Stephen.

Charley’s relatives
Robert Davidson, a.k.a., Uncle Bob, a.k.a., Ubie, is a detective with the Albuquerque Police Department and has had help from Charley in solving a number of cases. So did her father, Leland, when he worked for the department; he just sold his bar, Calamity’s, to Reyes. Denise is the evil stepmother with a different perspective. Aunt Lil is another ghost who died in the ’60s; she thinks she and Charley should be a partnership in detecting.

Friends of Charley’s
The orphaned Quentin is deaf and currently living at the convent on the weekends while attending the School for the Deaf in Santa Fe. Apparently he can see spirits. Sister Mary Elizabeth can hear the conversations of angels. Sister Theresa is there at the end. Special Agent Carson is a friend for whom Charley has solved a few cases. The psychic Pari is another friend and a tattoo artist banned from using electronics due to her hacking adventures. Tre is the employee she’s dating. Noni Bachicha runs a body shop.

Garrett Swopes is a bounty hunter who has visited Hell because of Charley. He works with Javier and another guy. Dr. von Holstein is working on translating the book, Cleosarius’ prophecies, Garrett brought back from Hell. Marika has a baby that may be Garrett’s.

Cookie’s dates
Barry is an old friend from college. Number 2 is a gay friend of Ubie’s. Number 3 is an actor, Troy.

The dead
Mr. Wong is a ghost, Charley thought, who has been standing in a corner in her apartment ever since she moved in. Juan Angel Garza, is Charley’s investigator, a thirteen-year-old gangbanger who died years ago. The Rocket Man haunts an abandoned mental asylum, writing down the names of those who have passed on. His ghost sister is named Blue, and she has a friend, Rebecca, a.k.a., Strawberry Shortcake, Officer Taft’s dead sister. I’m feeling awful suspicious about Duff. There’s that on-again, off-again stammer, and it appears he used to visit Reyes in prison.

Charles Andrulis is an elderly naked dead man who showed up in Misery and appears to have died when using Viagra. His wife’s name is Em. Maddy, Vera, and Tilda are waiting for their sister, Esther, to pass. Miranda Nelms is a young girl who was abused, battered, and abandoned to her death. Mrs. Nelms is in jail for what she did and totally unrepentant. Marcus Nelms is the older son who loved his sister, but didn’t dare help her.

Mr. Joyce has sold his soul to a demon, for very good reasons, and now he needs it back. Paul is his husband. Isabel is their three-year-old daughter.

“Bad decisions make good stories.”

Charley’s neighbors
Mrs. Allen has a vicious poodle named PP. Mr. Z is the current, very rude manager.

The enemies
The Dealer is a slave, a rogue demon. He was also a champion gladiator and could wipe the floor with Reyes. He does pose some interesting questions for Charley.

Jessica Guinn, who betrayed her in high school, is a former BFF of Charley’s.

The Fosters were the family who reported their young son, Reyes, as kidnapped some thirty years ago. Daniel is a crook Garrett and company are after. Muffy is his Yorkie. Phillip Brinkman has a car dealership that is laundering money for the mob. Lois is the secretary. His girlfriend, Emily Michaels, is in witness protection for having seen the murder of his best friend, Jeff. Wynona Jakes is a fake psychic.

Albuquerque PD Captain Van Eckert intends to blackmail Charley into getting a confession for his mentally challenged sister, Cindy. Kory is the kid Eckert killed. Chris Levine, a.k.a., Chewbaca, is one of the biggest meth dealers in town. Oscar Fuentes has a long arrest record.

Mendoza is a mob boss. His boys include Ricardo and Burro.

Daeva are slave demons created from souls of demons. They have absolutely no rights in Hell. There are two sets of Twelve: good and bad. The bad are Hellhounds.

The Cover and Title

The cover is very Charley with the gradated and smoky green background giving way to a close-up of gold sunglasses with a skull functioning as a hinge piece where the arm connects to the lenses. The title is a paler green in an embossed script at the top while the author’s name is at the bottom in white.

The title is the key to its placement in the series and suitable for a grim reaper, Sixth Grave on the Edge, an edge upon which the world is balancing.