Second Grave on the Left Review
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Unabridged Audiobook: 8 CDs (9.5 hours)
Read by Lorelei King

It’s been just a week since private investigator / Grim Reaper Charley Davidson solved her last exhausting case (in First Grave on the Right). But neither criminals nor the departed tend to take a whole lot of time off—so Charley doesn’t have a chance to rest before her next supernatural mysteries begin in Second Grave on the Left.

This time, Charley’s searching for a missing woman named Mimi. Since Mimi is Charley’s neighbor / assistant / best pal Cookie’s dear friend, finding her is all the more important. But the more they search, the more troubling facts they turn up.

Meanwhile, Charley’s also on the lookout for Reyes Farrow—the man of her dreams, who also happens to be the son of Satan. As demons torture him, trying to find a way to Charley—and, subsequently, into heaven—Reyes is threatening to let his earthly body die, but Charley has no intention of letting him go through with it.

If you’re looking for a way to pass the time on your next road trip, author Darynda Jones’s latest supernatural chick lit mystery is a worthwhile choice, thanks to its amusing characters and its light and undemanding story. Though there are a number of elements—and storylines—mixed in, you can easily follow along with the adventure, even if you’re not giving it your full attention.

Still, as in the first adventure in this quirky chick lit series, there’s a whole lot going on in Jones’s second Charlie Davidson mystery. In addition to the search for Mimi and the quest to stop Reyes for committing corporeal suicide, Charley also takes the time to track down the identity of the dead guy in Cookie’s trunk—and, if that weren’t enough, there’s also something fishy going on with her dad. Once again, it’s a lot to balance—and it isn’t always balanced flawlessly.

Charley’s ability to see (and talk to) the departed makes her stand out in a sea of female sleuths—yet, this time, her abilities are barely used. If it weren’t for the search for Reyes, in fact, the supernatural element would be pretty minimal. Mimi’s case doesn’t involve the walking, talking departed—and the mystery involving the dead guy in Cookie’s trunk is pretty minor. As a result, this story is missing one of the most entertaining elements of Charley’s character: that she can work with the departed to solve mysteries.

At the same time, though, the quirky characters continue to make the series enjoyable. Charley’s abilities make her unique while her imperfections make her relatable. She’s laid-back and often sarcastic, too, giving the whole story a lovably snarky tone. Surrounded by a rather eccentric cast of (mostly dead) characters, she’s a likeable heroine—the kind that you’ll enjoy reading about, even if her story isn’t entirely solid.

Though the story isn’t as strong and well-balanced as I’d hoped it would be—and it’s missing some of the hilarious antics of the first book in the series—the quirky, irreverent characters alone still make Second Grave on the Left an enjoyable audiobook experience. So if you need some easy listening to keep you alert and entertained during your next cross-country road trip (or even just your daily commute), it’s worth a listen.

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