I had such high hopes for this debut novel from Darynda Jones. First Grave on the Right is about Charley Davidson: PI, police aide and Grim Reaper. I had first spotted it in the States; but due to a bad exchange rate I ordered a copy from my local library so it would be waiting for me upon my return. When the time came I noticed, that like many trans Atlantic editions, the cover was different and underneath the blurb on the back cover was the thing I dread most on a book jacket: a shoe. From experience, shoe(s) on book covers mean only one thing: chick lit.
In no way am I an advocate for that genre. This may have placed the seeds of doubt into my head, but once I started reading my suspicions were only confirmed.
The premise was interesting and perhaps if given to another writer with more natural talent or a bit more experience this could have been the start of an excellent series. However, it felt like Jones was trying too hard. The supposed humorous quips felt like padding, or nervous chatter. The attempt to give her Grim Reaper a history became lengthy and forced. Instead of being brought up gradually every revelation about Charley's past was a massive anvil. This resulted in every instance a derailment of the story and by the last proclamation I couldn't help feeling that there were too many of these horrible childhood moments. While on the subject of unbelievable there is also the obligatory sex scene at the end.
Maybe Jones had the Dummies guide on how to write paranormal fiction and from following those instructions so mechanically her finished product lacks any real magic. Don't get me wrong; there are good things about First Grave on the Right but it was really hard to look past the rubbish. It reminded me a lot of MaryJanice Davidson's Undead series, so if you're a fan of hers be sure to get your hands on FGotR. I have the second book to read, as they were ordered together, and now I'm more aware of what to expect perhaps I may find reading slightly more enjoyable.