Mon
Aug 15 2011 2:25pm

Fresh Meat: Darynda Jones’s Second Grave on the Left August 16, 2011

Second Grave on the Left by Darynda JonesDarynda Jones
Second Grave on the Left
St. Martin’s Press, August 16, 2011, $21.99

When Charley is rudely awakened in the middle of the night by her best friend who tells her to get dressed quickly and tosses clothes out of the closet at her, she can’t help but wonder what Cookie’s up to. Leather scrunch boots with a floral miniskirt? Together? Seriously? Cookie explains that a friend of hers named Mimi disappeared five days earlier and that she just got a text from her setting up a meet at a coffee shop downtown. They show up at the coffee shop, but no Mimi. But Charley finds a message on the bathroom wall. Mimi left a clue, a woman’s name. Mimi’s husband explains that his wife had been acting strange since she found out an old friend of hers from high school had been found murdered a couple weeks prior. The same woman Mimi had named in her message.

Meanwhile, Reyes Alexander Farrow (otherwise known as the Son of Satan. Yes. Literally) has left his corporeal body and is haunting Charley. He’s left his body because he’s being tortured by demons who want to lure Charley closer. But Reyes can’t let that happen. Because if the demons get to Charley, they’ll have a portal to heaven. And if they have a portal to heaven…well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty. Can Charley handle hot nights with Reyes and even hotter days tracking down a missing woman? Will Cookie ever get a true fashion sense? And is there enough coffee and chocolate in the world to fuel them as they do?

Darynda Jones’s Grave series follows a private investigator—who also happens to be the Grim Reaper. Charley Davidson is a hilarious main character with her sarcastic wit and snappy comebacks. She’s fearless, intelligent, and all heart when it comes to the people in her life.

But every great PI needs an equally fantastic sidekick: Cookie Kowalski fits the mold perfectly. Cookie is Charley’s secretary, neighbor, and best friend. The woman deserves a cape, or at least a kick-ass mask, and is there whenever Charley needs her. She’s the glue that holds Charley together, and her tongue is sharp enough to keep up.

Cookie is the definition of a spitfire. She’s 5-foot-nothing, but can bring a 6 ½ ft man down to his knees, sobbing. She doesn’t pull her punches, either verbal or physical. Charley describes her:

Cookie was a lot like orange juice on white pants. She could be either grating or funny, depending on who was wearing the white pants.

One of the reasons Cookie’s character works so well is because she’s content with being Charley’s wing-woman. She keeps her best friend grounded, and is the one person who can put Charley in her place. Her respect for Charley is a subtle undercurrent of their relationship and she accidentally vocalizes it from time to time. And when she does, even Charley finds herself taken by surprise.

“Wanda,” Cookie said, leaning forward, her expression filled with concern, “if there is any person on this planet I would trust with my life, it is the woman sitting across from you right now. She will do everything humanly possible-even a little inhumanly-to get your daughter back safely.”

That was about the sweetest thing Cookie had ever said about me. We’d have to talk later about the inhumanly comment, but she meant well. She totally needed a raise.

One of the main plots in Second Grave on the Left is solving the disappearance of one of Cookie’s friends. Although Cookie has always been a large part of Charley’s life, this time around she’s also a larger part of the story. It gives readers a larger glimpse inside her character, and a healthier appreciation for role in Charley’s life.

Cookie Kowalski is just another reason why the Charley Davidson series is a keeper.


 

Jessica Turner reviews Urban Fantasy, Paranormal and Sc-Fi Romances on her site The Spinecracker and is a trained chef who lives in San Diego with her very Irish husband.

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