FIFTH GRAVE PAST THE LIGHT – Darynda Jones
Charley Davidson Series , Book 5
St. Martin's Press
Albuquerque, New Mexico – Present Day
Private investigator Charley Davidson has survived several attempts on her life, including being tortured by things that do more than go bump in the night, but she doesn't know if she'll live through this next case: busting her client's cheating husband. It's all in a day's work, but seriously? This, right now, goes beyond the pale. At least it may help pay the bills since she hasn't found a way to capitalize on being the Grim Reaper and the high cost of living high off the hog.
Yeah, I said that—she's the Grim Reaper, but not like the dude in the cloak with the scythe who stars in some of the worst nightmares around. Maybe a little disclaimer is needed here: Charley is the portal that the departed can go through to get to the great beyond, or wherever it is the dead go. She's literally their Guiding Light (cliché, maybe) since her internal light acts as a beacon for the poor souls who have died and still roam the earth, trying to find their way.
So now that that's out of the way, back to the story and the way she almost gets her bacon cooked in FIFTH GRAVE PAST THE LIGHT. Seriously, it's ok. This usually happens in each installment in the series, and now we're up to book five, and Charley is still Ok. Still. Ok. Breathe, dear reader; it's a bumpy ride.
Where was I? Right; Charley's on another assignment, one that she normally wouldn't have chosen, but she can't help but feel bad for this latest client who had lost tons of weight, suffered a loss of self esteem, and now, after all that slimming down, her hubby's skunking around on her. Run on sentence much? Just as she partially closes the case, with the help of her best friend and secretary, Cookie, and returns home for the night (because, yeah, the Grim Reaper requires sleep too), she finds her apartment invaded by dead women of varying ages.
Crap, forgot to mention that—since she's the portal to the Great Big Beyond, it only makes sense that she sees dead people on a regular basis (and we're not talking The Sixth Sense here, folks). Cookie, fortunately, has gotten used to this; you will, too. But this visit from the dead women is just not normal, and they're more than lost, not seeming to want to cross through Charley. It's like something is tying them to the earth, as if some resolution needs to happen before they can cross. And this is where Charley excels—solving murders, with great risk to her own life—and helping close cases for the Albuquerque police department where she also moonlights as a consultant. She has assisted her Uncle Bob, a detective, several times, and his success rate is unusually high, something his boss can't quite figure out yet. So far though, there has been no reported cases of dozens of women going missing (27 visitors in Charley's apartment, to be exact), but Charley can't help feeling that a serial killer is on the loose and has gotten away with this for more than a few years. It's quite scary, really, and Charley is more than a little bit leery of taking this on but, she can't ignore those poor women who are trapped on this plain, not crossing, not moving on. This may call for a little more than the help of her uncle; it may require Reyes Farrow, with his fine sexy self playing wide receiver to Charley's quarterback as she drives this case through the uprights. Yeah, I went there—after all, it is football season, but don't get me started on tight ends because Reyes has one of those too. Sorry, I forgot to mention that Reyes is basically Charley's soul mate, most definitely her lover, but he's also the son of Satan.
The Charley Davidson series is one I'm glad I jumped on back when the first book, FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, hit shelves in 2011 (you can find the other titles at www.daryndajones.com ). Each book is a special treat for fans, and non-fans as well of urban and paranormal fiction. FIFTH GRAVE PAST THE LIGHT is almost like an early Christmas present for me because I have become so invested in all of these characters: Charley, Reyes, Cookie, Uncle Bob (or Ubbie, as Charley calls him), and several others who all make appearances in each book. I didn't elaborate too much on Reyes because, honestly, his and Charley's history is rich, tormented, and almost too much to explain in one lowly review. Suffice to say, she loves him, he loves her, and I can see a happy ending for them, despite themselves. The distinctiveness of this series lies, for me, in the author's way of telling Charley's story in first person and making you feel as if it's a conversation, complete with all of Charley's quirks, smirks, hiccups, and self-analyses. That's not to say that she's ditzy or singly faceted—she's pretty bad ass, but can still laugh at herself. And others, don't disqualify that. Several times throughout this series, I have almost given myself a side stitch from laughter because I just can't help it. Darynda Jones writes with humor and makes it the new little black dress, but never loses sight of the story or where it's going.
Do me and yourself a favor…read this series. I'm hard-pressed to say that you can pick up in the middle of it and start there because I believe you'll lose the nuance and definitely all the back story. FIFTH GRAVE PAST THE LIGHT is yet another keeper to my arsenal and a touchdown for the author. Can't wait for more!