First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson #1
Charley Davidson is a part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper. Meaning, she sees dead people. Really. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (like murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely. But what does he want with Charley? And why can’t she seem to resist him? And what does she have to lose by giving in?
Charley Davidson is like white chocolate. You either love it, or you think it’s an abomination of nature. I love white chocolate, I love Charley Davidson, and I am not ashamed.
She’s got such a great narrative voice – she is, dare I say it, a lot like me. A lot of deadpan humor. A lot of inappropriate thoughts at the worst possible times.
“Well, I was kind of kidnapped, though not really kidnapped so much as led away.”
A hand shot to her mouth to squelch a gasp.
“God, all this sounds so awful when I say it out loud,” I complained. “I whine more than a Goth with a blogging fetish. It’s really not that bad. I actually grew up rather happy. I had lots of friends. They were mostly dead, but still.”
Charley is special without being a special snowflake.
“Is anything broken?” Uncle Bob’s voice had softened.
“My eyelids, I think. I can’t open them.”
I heard a soft chuckle. “If it were anyone else, I’d say eyelids can’t be broken. But considering the source…”
A weak grin spread across my face. “So I’m, like, special?”
He snorted as he pressed gingerly here and there, testing for broken bones and the like. “Special wouldn’t even begin to cover it, my dear.”
Charley is a Grim Reaper. She can see the dead and take them through the other side. As you can well imagine, it must have been pretty fucking rough growing up with that ability. Seriously, some kid comes up to me and tells me “I see dead people,” you’d tell him he was nuts and eventually everyone else would pick up on the weirdness, because kids are assholes. Charley grew up ostracized by friends and even family, but she coped in her own way; she is strong, she is resilient. She isn’t filled with misery and depression and self-pity. She is pissed off, at times, but she deals with it through her snark and sarcasm and all-around awesome Charley-ness. Which isn’t to say she never gets angry, she damned well gets mad, but she can deal with the unfairness life has dealt her.
“People like those assholes at the station yesterday. People like Taft with their sideways glances and hushed whispers who turn their backs on me every time I walk into a room. People like you who treat me like shit until they figure out I really can do what I say I can do. And then suddenly I’m their best friend.”
We all have our coping mechanism, and I see her sarcasm and her inappropriate sense of humor as one of such. Seriously, I find Charley absolutely hilarious. She speaks her lines with such a deadpan sense of humor. The first time I read the book, I was howling with laughter.
I twisted around in my seat to face him. “My fore-parts, as you so ineloquently put it, have names.” I pointed to my right breast. “This is Danger.” Then my left. “And this is Will Robinson. I would appreciate it if you addressed them accordingly.”
After a long pause in which he took the time to blink several times, he asked, “You named your breasts?”
I turned my back to him with a shrug. “I named my ovaries, too, but they don’t get out as much.
I know that Charley isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and I completely understand if she grates on your nerves, but personally, I adore her. (well, I can’t say the same for the later books in the series, but still)