American imports, Book of the Week

Book of the Week: First Grave on the Right

Ok, so this week’s BotW post is a little cheating – because I actually finished this on Monday.  But in my defense, I was going to have to break the (my self-imposed) rules this week whatever happened, because it was either pick this, or have a Sarah Morgan book as BotW for the second week in a row.  So I chose this, because it was my favourite book I started reading last week, so it’s only fair.

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
Another book on the train picture, but I do spend a lot of time there…

First Grave on the Right is the first in the Charley Davidson by Darynda Jones.  Charlie is a private investigator with a secret – she’s a grim reaper.  It’s actually the secret to her success as a PI – after all, what better way to solve murders than to ask the dead person who did it?  She’s also a consultant to the local police force – where her uncle is a cop.  Her mysterious (to everyone else) ability to solve crimes has raised more than a few eyebrows over the years, but Charley is used to that.  What she’s not used to is the mysterious presence that’s haunting her dreams and the effect that it’s having on her.  And when three lawyers end up dead on the same she’s got a high profile case to solve – if she can just keep one step ahead of the Bad Guys.

I’ve been hearing about this series for ages, but it’s taken me a while to get hold of the first book at a reasonable price.  And it lived up to the hype.  Charley is a kick ass heroine with a complicated backstory, a big secret (from most people at any rate), a difficult family life and a great gang of friends.  The various mystery plots are clever and well written and Charley’s inner monologue is a joy.  I’m already annoyed that I’m meant to be avoiding buying books which means I can’t immediately buy book 2 (although to be fair it’s over my price limits at the moment any way).  If I was trying to do an elevator pitch for this, I think the closest I can get is Steph Plum meets Sookie Stackhouse, but in a good way.  It sits in the cross section of murder mysteries, thrillers, supernatural and romance – it’s not hard-boiled, there’s some violence but it’s not too graphic and there’s definitely a fair bit of heat going on in the romance stakes.  All of which is right in my wheelhouse – and if anyone has any recommendations for similar books, please do let me know.

Books with supernatural elements are a bit of a hazy area for me, as long time readers will be aware.  When they work for me, they really work and I love them; but when they don’t it’s horrid.  And I’m still incapable of working out what makes some books work, while others don’t.  The closest I can get is that they have to be part of a well worked out world, with definite rules and that the supernatural element shouldn’t be fetishised in anyway.  And if there can be punning and wise cracking that helps too.

Anyway, I raced through this – if I hadn’t been working at the weekend it would definitely have been finished before Monday morning!*  I suspect you may need to order a copy of First Grave on the Right if you’re in the UK – I certainly haven’t seen it in the supermarkets, although I haven’t had a chance to check the bookshops to see if they have it.  I’m sure Big Green Books would be able to get hold of it if you asked them.  It’s also available on Kindle and Kobo for £.399 at time of writing.

Happy Reading!

*I do hate it when real life gets in the way of my reading time.

Authors I love, Book of the Week, fiction, Series I love, Thriller

Book of the Week: Plum Spooky

This week’s BotW post has been really tricky.  If I picked my absolute favourite book from last week – can I then still include it in my holiday reads post (which is why I was reading it in the first place)?  If I don’t pick my favourite, all my other options are going to be repeating previous favourite authors.  If I do pick my favourite it’s a repeat as well.  Tricky.  So people, this week’s book of the week is Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich.  Yes.  I know.  But There Were Reasons.

Plum Spooky
I do love a foil cover – but they’re really tricky to photograph

Plum Spooky is the fourth (and last as it stands) in the Between-the-Numbers Stephanie Plum books – which means it’s a bit like a normal Stephanie Plum but with a supernatural twist.  They’re also the books where you meet Diesel – who goes on to get a series of his own (the second of which was my Evanovich Gateway Book back in April – see previous BotW post).  Plum Spooky is the longest (a proper novel rather than a novella) and best of these fill-ins – it has the balance right between NormalSteph and SupernaturalStuff – and is a good read in it’s own right – not just because you like the other Plum books.

In Plum Spooky, Steph’s FTA has got messed up with the guy that Diesel is trying to find – and it all gets a little bit scary/weird in the Barrens – an area which reminds me a lot of the were-panther area in Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Series.  Spooky is very good at balancing the supernatural element of the story with the normal bounty hunter storylines from the regular series.  Having Diesel around does mean less Ranger and Morelli action – but as these are meant to be slightly outside the mains series you couldn’t really have any action that impacts those relationships without causing ructions.

This is great fun – but probably best enjoyed with a bit of existing knowledge of the series – or if you know you like this sort of book. You should be able to get it from all the usual places – and probably your second-hand book store too.

This week I’ve planned my reading better.  And that Summer Reading post is nearly ready, I promise. Just a few more books to read…