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Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones

Second Grave on the Left - Darynda Jones

Charley Davidson is Albuquerque’s private eye extraordinaire and local Grim Reaper. In this installment, her best friend Cookie hits her up to help find her friend Mimi. Pretty soon the two ladies are pulled into a murder mystery, one that may be tied back to an event from Mimi’s past. On top of all that, Reyes Alexander Farrow, Charley’s lover and also the son of Satan, has yet another mystery for Charley. While his hidden body is tormented by demons, his spirit haunts Charley, tempting her with promises of hot, pleasurable nights.

I wasn’t particularly taken with Book 1 (First Grave on the Right) in this series, but then I heard the author talk at the local convention (Bubonicon) a few times and she came off as funny and smart. So when I won a copy of this book (from Audio Gals blog), I jumped right into. I was happily surprised that this book entertained me far more than Book 1.

There’s really three mysteries in this book; the two biggies already mentioned and then a smaller one that even Charley is not aware of until she stumbles right into it. I really liked how these three intertwined, each masking the other or revealing insights into the next. It made it much harder to predict the plot and I was pleasantly surprised several times when the next little twist wasn’t what I was expecting.

Charley herself has plenty of self effacing humor. Sometimes it made me chuckle and, unfortunately, some of it felt canned. This was probably the single point that by turns charmed me and turned me off. When the wit was flying and clever, I was a very happy listener. When the humor lacked wit and was the same joke I have heard a thousand times on TV, I was likely to let my focus wander off the book.  I have to admit the sometimes unsurprising dialogue was one of the drawbacks to Book 1 and Book 2 doesn’t quite escape from this rather predictable sitcom type humor.

Then we have the hot, flirty romance between Charley and Reyes. In Book 1, it didn’t quite work for me, but in this book, it is much smoother. The two have a little history together now, some trust, something more to go on than just lusting hormones. I really enjoyed that Charley isn’t always willing to sit back and let Reyes be the alpha in their relationship. The other side of the coin is that she sometimes truly does need his help and she has to admit that and essentially ask for it. Reyes, on the other hand, hasn’t been able to ask for help in a very, very long time, given the nature of his being. So he’s still got some growing to do.

The various side characters provide humor and angst as needed. Of course, Cookie is front and center with this story. She’s sometimes near hysterics, worrying for her missing friend Mimi but then you can see her pull it together. Uncle Bob and Charley’s dad are both cops, so there’s some family politics that come in to play in this book that added some nice depth to Charley’s character. Then there are all the dead people that Charley can see and the conversations with those individuals runs the gamut of emotions: hilarious, poignant; creepy; etc.

Yep, I definitely enjoyed this book more than Book 1 and I will be continuing the series.

Narration: Lorelei King gave us another great performance. She’s got the perfect sassy voice for Charley. I also liked her voice for Cookie, making her sound voluptuous and bold at the same time. Both her male and female voices were distinct and her little kid voices were excellent. She also pulled off the Hispanic accent nicely.