The Charley Davidson series is now in regular rotation of my book reading schedule, and there they will stay until I’ve read them all. This series is so much fun. The romance aspect is a little too hot and heavy for me, but the story lines, the plot twists, the mysteries, the multiple plot points, the humor, and a number of other features keep me hooked. If you don’t know it already, The Charley Davidson series features an Albuquerque PI who also happens to be the Grim Reaper, a celestial being who lovingly guides souls who are stuck on the earthly plane into the beyond. It makes her a pretty good PI – being able to converse with the dead and all. She’s also in love with the son of Satan. Fifth Grave Past the Light is book number five in the series. St. Martin’s Press | 2013 | Paperback | 319 pp
Charley Davidson is back to herself. In the last book, she had become a little withdrawn after being cruelly tortured at the hands of a psychopath, and it took a while to get her groove back, naturally. Completely understandable, even for a non-human celestial being of light with extraordinary healing powers. Had to just, um, throw that in there. In Fifth Grave Past the Light, Charley is on top of her game and it opens with her on a stake out trying to catch a philandering husband in action.
Charley Davidson is a private investigator and also the Grim Reaper, although she doesn’t know everything (yet) that goes along with that job. She’s a beacon of light to all that have passed and are wandering. They pass through her to get to the other side and sometimes, she helps them along. Sometimes, she also helps solve their murders. That’s what makes her a great PI.
At the end of the last book, she solved four huge cases – all in one day. People who weren’t paying attention before are shadowing her now. She’s been helping her father solves crimes since she was four, but now she’s drawn a little too much attention to herself. But when there are crimes to solve, that’s where Charley’s priorities are. Who cares if the big dogs are getting suspicious? Especially now that there are no less than 27 terrified dead women in Charley’s apartment. Well – their souls, not the bodies.
Each of the Charley Davidson books has presented a number of different mysteries. Some are ongoing, but most are wrapped up in each book. In Fifth Grave Past the Light, Charley searches for a serial killer on the loose who has killed at least 27 blond women and children, has a hunch on a local, serial arsonist, and has a mystery to solve with a dead-non-dead nurse who should be dead but isn’t. Her sister Gemma might be in danger, her boyfriend (the Son of Satan) has an ever-growing fan club of smitten women, her friend Garret has some interesting stories from his time in hell and a heart-to-heart with the Fallen One, and someone is out to kill Charley (again).
The romance in this series has turned a number of people off – and a number of people turned on. In the first book, there was the threat of rape and that was difficult to overlook. Abuse is not affection. Although Reyes has never raped nor hurt Charley in this way, his verbiage comes across as abusive. I’m able to overlook this because of the context. He’s a literal demon. Second in command of the vast legions of the underworld. He has flaws. The steamy sex scenes are a little too much for me and I tend to skim them. There’s not enough of a mental connection for me; it’s all heat and physicality. But I do love how their relationship has developed. He can still be a jerk, but Charley puts him in his place every time. And he remains her loyal guardian and protector. The failed assassin from hell who fell in love.
While the romance isn’t my favorite part, everything else is too good to not be vested. I love how these books have multiple mysteries, multiple plots points. And some mysteries continue from book to book like Mr. Wu – the dead guy who hangs out in a corner of Charley’s apartment, the mysterious nature of Charley’s other-worldliness, and what Satan is planning to do. Fifth Grave Past the Light keeps the story moving, the mysteries suspenseful, and the supernatural world growing with war on the horizon. I can’t wait for the next book.
Fifth Grave Past the Light
by Darynda Jones