Wednesday, December 12, 2012

There's something about Albuquerque...

And it isn't the Weird Al song that goes on for 15 minutes live.

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet becomes the fourth book in Darynda Jones's Grave series. And oh boy.

I'll admit, the first book (First Grave on the Right) annoyed me, mainly because it wasn't until about a third of the way through the narrative did she give us any setting information. It was a bit like SE7EN, where we knew only we were in an urban area and something was amiss. It got better, obviously, since I'm reading book four, but first impressions tend to stick around.

Charley, who is THE Grim Reaper (unlike Maddy in the Black Wings novels, who is A Grim Reaper), spends most of the novels letting people "cross over" as they walk through her. She works as a P.I. with her partner/secretary Cookie; deals with her dad (a retired cop who now runs the bar her office was located over) and her uncle (still a cop, and uses Charley's leads to solve cases); hates her stepmother; oh, and she's in a very dysfunctional relationship with Reyes Farrow, who's parentage is pretty much the focus of the first book.

Now, given the last book involved Charley getting tortured and nearly killed towards the end, and Fourth starts with Charley becoming a recluse, spending her time ordering Home Shopping Channel junk and generally trying to ignore the world outside. Things get moving with a new client walking into her apartment and Reyes returning to her life.

The only problem with Reyes' return is that it seems to have derailed the plot. I'm interested in the mystery here; the client has been having stuff straight out of Fatal Attraction happening to her since she was 5. (For those of you not alive in the 80's, let's just say that Glenn Close did to a bunny what Cruella DeVille was trying to do to Dalmatians. Charley's client keeps finding broken necked bunnies and stuffed bunnies with stuffing missing from the neck in her house, usually on the bed.)

Of which, two thirds of the way through, Charley really hasn't done much but interview the client's shrew of a step mother. Instead, we've focused on Charley's slow return to normal, demonic possession (The demons want Charley, since she's a gate to the afterlife), and one whole hell of a lot of Reyes Farrow and her lust for him. While I enjoy the tension between the two characters, it's almost a less healthy relationship than that between Bella and Edward. It's saved by the fact that Charley can take care of herself, but still, she keeps getting in to trouble because she just can't quit him. (and given Reyes was in prison during the start of the series, we've already been through the people wanting to marry/love men on death row. It wasn't pretty.)

I dunno. I enjoy the series, the narrator is fairly funny. I just get annoyed when the plot becomes window dressing for the author's personal sex fantasies. I don't bear a grudge towards erotica, I just get annoyed when it becomes the focus of the narrative for the sake of being smut. Which, while this series is borderline, it hasn't crossed that line as of yet.


  1. Oh, boy, both a Freudian and Jungian Analyst would have a field day with all these characters!!

    And I think that this time, my comment shall be successfully posted. Thank you, James, for this.

    1. Indeed, it did come through. It's an interesting series, but not one I really anticipate upcoming volumes of. More of a "Oh, a new one's out? Ok..." kind of thing.