The cover art catches the eye immediately and is very representative of the main character with the reaper’s scythe and lady’s leg, but the cover quote is spot on too. J. R. Ward tossed around words and phrases like ‘best debut novel read in years’, ‘hilarious, sexy and surprising’. I couldn’t have said it better myself because this was a delightful new author for me.
The story stars, Charley Davidson, PI, consultant to the Albuquerque Police and Grim Reaper (yes, THE Grim Reaper- just not quite what we all imagine). Charley’s having a bad week that begins with getting beat up by the abusive husband of her last client and now she has the ghosts of three dead lawyers to work on solving their deaths with the help of her Uncle Bob who is in the APD and her trusty best friend/secretary, Cookie, along with a few of her ghost contacts.
In the midst of solving the crime, Charley finds herself curious to learn more about the re-occurring ‘in her dreams’ (literally) visitor that comes every night to make passionate love with her. The visitor leaves her dreams and comes to her for a few daytime visits and calls her ‘Dutch’ (a name that she has only heard once before a long time ago). The mystery of Reyes is of equal intrigue as the case that she is working on because both have an expiration date so Charley is one busy gal for whom danger is a daily visitor.
The story grabbed me from the first page and kept my interest all the way through. It is written first person, but for those who don’t normally enjoy first person, this should be one of the exceptions to your rule. It is more of an urban fantasy, but I think it has wide appeal for both the romantic suspense and paranormal romance lover. Darynda Jones hit one out of the park with her Charley character. Charley is warm and caring even though she tries to act tough because of the jobs she does. She is also smart, quirky, witty and just flat out hilarious.
I love the other characters in the story too. Cookie is the perfect best friend/foil for Charley with her research and organization abilities and her quirky humor not to mention she believes Charley about the ghosts. Charley’s Uncle Bob is the long suffering police officer type who also believes her and takes her help with his cases. Charley’s dad is an interesting character and I’m not sure what to make of the family dynamics between him, his second wife (Charley’s step-mom) and Charley. He is a retired cop and now owns a bar. He has always believed Charley and allowed her to help him during his career, but he is also loving and circumspect with her when it comes to her abilities. The step-mom was rarely in an actual scene, but she’s a denier and a militant one at that. But then most people in the story have bad reactions when they were confronted with Charley’s ability to interact with ghosts.
The enigmatic character of Reyes was absolutely fascinating because his association with Charley was slowly revealed from the nightly ‘dream’ visits to the flashbacks to his pop-in visits in the present. It will be intriguing to see how the big reveal and the slight change it affects in the relationship with Charley works out through the series.
And yes, I will definitely be continuing with this series. There is something to be said about coming to a book series late because now I do not have to wait for the next installment.
As I said before, I recommend this series to a wide range of book lovers because of all the elements that this debut book and author bring to the table.