The Dirt on Ninth Grave (Charley Davidson) Darynda Jones
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
I’ve been following this series since book one, pre-ordering next books soon as available. Knowing book eight ends on a huge cliff-hanger I put off reading it until nine was out as I hate being left in limbo. Then – hurrah – I got an ARC via Netgalley, so I quickly read book eight – what a heartbreak ending that was – and on to this one.
Well, I so felt for all the characters. Charley is so lost in her own mind, doesn’t know who she is, where she’s come from and is confused at seeing dead people, knowing when people are lying, having a ghost dog (yep, Artemis is here) and understanding so many different languages…well, who wouldn’t be? She can’t tell anyone though, she thinks they’ll be out with the padded jacket. She’s lucky that she’s managed to find a job in a cafe and somewhere to live, and has made some friends among the staff and customers. Of course she doesn’t know that some of them are her friends from before, having found her they are looking out for her, and waiting for her memory to come back. How heart rending that must be, knowing her and yet she doesn’t know them. Poor Reyes, we can see how frustrated it makes him, seeing Charley and being unable to help, seeing her struggle for money, when he has plenty and yet can’t do anything. The coat issue and then the scene over the glass, little things, but added so much to the picture of his frustration and her pride. As well as Reyes most of the gang are here, Cookie and Bob, Garret, Angel and Osh. Because of course Charley has lost her memory but the bad guys are still out to get her….
I love the way Janey, the name Charley has gone by, is still so much herself. Still blundering along, helping everyone at cost to herself, still her open and friendly self, even though it does come with a special side dose of Snark….Oh I love her quips, and those chapter headings. You’d think all her friends had to do was quietly watch over her, looking out for the bad guys, while waiting for her memory to come back, but being Charley/Janey she can’t help but somehow blunder into trouble. A couple of troubles actually…leading once more to real danger for her. I just love the way she kind of bumbles through, planning on the fly, and always trying to help everyone and anyone.
I thought I’d miss Charley, but we still get her special characteristics though in a kind of softer version. Having no memory she’s not needing the hard shell she’s built to help herself cope with all those years of hurts from so many people. I love Cookie and Bobert – you have to read it to follow that bit, but its typical Cookie. That woman can’t lie to save her life, and struggles so much working with Charley and yet trying to pretend to not know her. What made this really special too was another dose of Charley meeting Reyes, for the first time she thinks. She’s attracted to him, of course so is most of the female local population and a good portion of the male! She thinks he doesn’t like her though, he’s always glaring at her and seems to be avoiding her section of the cafe. Poor Reyes though is finding it hard. He used to doing what he wants, severing a few spines to get the answers he needs, and now he has to hold back, to wait, and in a way I feel he’s sort of angry at Charley even though he knows she can’t help it. Strong emotions do make people irrational though and I could understand that. ( I dreamt Him Indoors had an affair once and refused to speak to him for most of the day…) When they finally get closer – wow – it was perfect. He’s so devoted to Charley, so desperate to be with her however he can, and he can’t see anyone but her however much they throw themselves at him. I love that. One for the not so perfect ladies, that a gorgeous man like Reyes ignores all the beautiful, manicured, immaculate ladies who come his way, they don’t even register on his radar because not so perfect Charley is who he wants. Being someone who long ago gave up trying for the immaculate look I love it when people like me get the man the perfect ladies feel they deserve!
Well, I’m down to gushing about Reyes now instead of the story as a whole so…back on track, its a riveting, gripping, heart-stopping adventure, full of scenes that catch in the throat they are so emotional, and of course danger for Charley that she finds in her own way as though she’s a magnet and danger is an iron filing. The gang are hard put to keep up with her, trying to let her recover her memory, but of course needing to find out what she’s planning without raising her suspicions. There’s danger from expected and unexpected sources, and poor Charley gets right to the edge here a couple of times, however when it ends we can see that the story needed to go this way. Its a great book, a climatic finish and now of course I need book ten to see what happens next….At least there’s no cliff-hangers at the end of this one. Don’t come in cold to this book, you do need to read earlier ones, its a series that builds on with each one and if you try to start here you’ll be lost!
When the series does finally finish I’m going to really enjoy reading all the books back to back. I’m currently working my way through Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson novels once more, though the series isn’t finished its one of those that could continue for some time.
Stars: Five, a really fabulous read with some trademark humour, some cracking, dramatic intensity and hints of future surprises.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers