Third Grave Dead Ahead Review
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Unabridged Audiobook: 8 CDs (9.5 hours)
Read by Lorelei King

When most people imagine the Grim Reaper, they picture a big, ghostly figure in a black cloak. If you’ve read any of author Darynda Jones’s Charley Davidson mysteries, on the other hand, you’re more likely to picture a wise-cracking girl from Albuquerque, New Mexico—one who’s generally surrounded by quirky characters and a few departed onlookers. And if you pick up a copy of Third Grave Dead Ahead, the third book in the paranormal series, you’ll find that there’s really nothing all that grim about this Grim Reaper.

Things just keep getting more and more complicated for private investigator / Grim Reaper Charley Davidson. It’s bad enough that Reyes Farrow, the gorgeous son of Satan, is furious with her for binding him to his earthly body. But now, whenever she goes to sleep, he ends up visiting her in her dreams. She has no other choice but to keep herself caffeinated to keep him away.

Meanwhile, though her ex-cop dad is convinced that she needs to quit her job and find something a little less dangerous, Charley refuses to give up. Her latest case involves hunting down the missing wife of a doctor who’s definitely guilty of something. And after Reyes escapes from prison, he comes to her with yet another mystery to solve.

As is usually the case in a Charley Davidson mystery, there’s a whole lot going on in Third Grave Dead Ahead. There’s a missing woman, an escaped convict with otherworldly powers, and the search for a man who’s supposedly been dead for 10 years. There are the predictions of a psychic nun, the demands of a worried father, and a gang of bikers who really love their dogs. But while earlier installments in the series felt a little scattered and unbalanced, this time, they’re blended well. The story may be loaded with quirky little subplots, but nothing gets lost in the process.

Meanwhile, the characters continue to get more and more likable with each new book in the series. Charley is sassy and sarcastic, setting the tone for yet another wild and wacky paranormal adventure. Whether she’s loading up on coffee, shaking off a tail, or breaking into a condemned asylum, her quirks keep things light and entertaining, while her close proximity to killers, kidnappers, and, of course, the departed, keeps things suspenseful. Throw in the dazzlingly stunning (and really, really pissed off) son of Satan, and you’ve got one steamy supernatural thriller.

Really, the only thing that Third Grave is missing is an eccentric cast of recently-departed characters. Though Charley is still close in contact with her usual departed associates—like departed savant Rocket and Mr. Wong, who hangs out in her living room—she meets just a handful of new ones. And those she does meet don’t tend to stick around for very long. For someone whose whole job as a private investigator is built on the fact that she can solve murders by speaking to the dead victims, she’s solved very few murders throughout the course of the series—and it would be nice to see her put those skills to use a little more often in upcoming adventures.

Still, loaded with action, suspense, and romance—and seasoned with a sharp sense of humor—Third Grave Dead Ahead is another fun-filled installment in Jones’s Charley Davidson series. So, whether you’re reading it for yourself or listening to Lorelei King’s skillful narration, you’re sure to enjoy this dead-on comic thriller.

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