Monday, 22 July 2013

Catching up with my reading

I’m back from my great, relaxing holiday. I visited family and recharged my batteries by reading some of the books from my ever increasing to-be-read pile. Ever since I started writing, I’ve been behind on quite a few series I follow that I now had time to catch up with. Among those was my current favourite series, Charley Davidson by Darynda Jones.

I read the books four and five back to back, which turned out to be good, because there was a continuing plot between them. I guess there’s something to be said for not reading every book the moment they are published.

Charley Davidson is the Grim Reaper and one of the funniest characters out there. Her charm is based, rather oddly, on her ADD personality that manifests as a narrative that jumps from topic to topic according to whatever catches her fancy, be it naming her body parts (like Barbara, her brain) and furniture (we were left hanging on the names of a couple of chairs in the last book) or coffee and the endless stream of food she should have ordered instead of what she did.

Despite her concentration issues, Charley is a PI. She’s helped in this by Cookie, her assistant, Uncle Ubie who is a cop, and an ever-growing cast of ghosts who flock to her, drawn by her light only they can see. It’s easy to solve murders when you can ask the ghost who did it; less easy to explain it to the living.

The first three books in the series revolved around a story of a bad-boy Rayes with whom Charley shares a metaphysical connection – and a sizzling physical one. He’s convicted of a murder she’s convinced he didn’t commit and tries to prove his innocence. The showdown at the end of the first trilogy is gruesome. Incidentally, contrasting with her ADD character and laugh-out-loud incidences, the stories usually have a very violent ending, with Charley as the sufferer.

Books four and five start a new cycle, with Charley recovering from the events of the previous books in her unique style, in this case with compulsive shopping from the home shopping network. The bigger story concerning what Charley is and how she is connected with Rayes gets new dimensions, especially in book five that has quite a few revelations, building a storyline for many books to come. There’s a murder or three to solve in both books; in book five the twenty-seven ghosts of women that are the victims of a serial killer show up in Charley’s apartment, too badly traumatised to tell her their story. She solves it, in the end, like she always does, but not without a personal cost.

The books are an intriguing mix of funny and grim, absurd and deadly. There’s a smaller case in each that is solved during the course of the book and then there is the continuing storyline that is interesting and unique enough among all the UF out there. The books are filled with likeable characters whether dead or alive, and all of this is told with Charley’s attention deficit narrative. So far, every book has been good, no weak ones among them. If you’re looking for a new series to read, I warmly recommend this one. Meanwhile, I’m eagerly waiting for the book six. I hope it doesn’t take long.

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