First Grave on the Right - Darynda Jones Delightful! I finally get to review a book I enjoyed. It felt like I was turning into one of those Internet gremlins who hate everything. But alas! I still have a soul. I shall reward myself with a Christmas cookie and feel very smug indeed.

First Grave on the Right is told in first-person (past tense, thank god) by Charlotte "Charley" Davidson. She's a PI / consultant for the police department / grim reaper. Dead people have to cross through her to get to Heaven once they finish their business on Earth. After three lawyers are murdered by the same gunman, Charley must use her supernatural gift to solve the crime. As if that isn't stressful enough, Charley has a dream lover (quite literally) who turns out to be a real person. And this guy may be able to answer all of the questions Charley has about what she is.

I chose this book because I wanted to read a paranormal but didn't want the paranormal to be about vampires. Blood suckers are like the Justin Beibers of the book world these days - we're so oversaturated with them. Since the grim reaper has such a ghastly reputation, I decided to give Charley a try.

Charley is the best part of this book, followed shortly behind by her Uncle Bob, who wears a rubber band around his wrist and snaps it against his skin when he gets angry. While a lot of heroines would drown in a lake of their own angst if dead people sought them out, Charley deals with her duties as the grim reaper with a cheerful and sassy demeanor. She's pretty awesome, and her smart ass tendencies are just an added bonus. Weird things have been happening to Charley since birth, but she's pretty nonchalant about it. For example, a dead guy named Mr. Wong has been standing motionless in her living room since she moved in, and she's totally okay with it. I can't say that her reaction is normal, but it's still kind of awesome.

Supporting characters like the dead lawyers and Charley's best friend Cookie, who literally can't form a coherent sentence without a cup of coffee, add a fun extra layer to the narrative. Cookie is an amazing friend to Charley. We also get to meet Charley's evil-schmevil step-mother and her oblivious dad. Seriously. The step-mom only showed up once or twice, and I wanted to smack Charley's dad for exposing her to the old dragon.

Charley's dream lover, Reyes, added a lot of mystery to the story. I'm not all that sure how he sexed her up in her dreams. Like, was he aware of it? And if so, isn't that illegal? Also, since Reyes tells her all about his identity at the end and continually shows up in her life in his corporeal form, doesn't that make him a creepster for invading her dreams before she even knew who he was? I mean, sure, Charley enjoyed the encounters. But why wasn't this addressed? If he cares so much about Charley, Reyes should be more transparent.

The writing was the only problem I ran into while reading. Jones has a very conversational style, but sometimes Charley's inner-monologue got a little too random. At times, I just wished Charley would stop blathering and get on with the story. I'm impatient that way. The writing worked most of the time, but some of the more awkward segments kept this from being a five-star for me. That and the confusing consensual / non-consensual dream sex.

Check out this book if you want a break from all the angst and melo-drama that plagues a lot of paranormal books these days. First Grave on the Right is a fun and fast read, and I plan to read the next book in the series soon.