Publisher: St. Martin's Press: New York
Review source: Library
Reviewed by: Kathy Davie
Series: Charley Davidson, 4
Fourth in the Charley Davidson urban fantasy series about an unexpectedly cheerful grim reaper and the demons who want her.
Okay, I'm bummed. I was so looking forward to this release as I just love Jones' sense of humor. Well, the humor is mostly there, but her writing has gone downhill. Which is amazingly disappointing. It really took away from my enjoyment of Charley's outlook.
I mean, really...Lunch Tray?, Serving Tray?
How does Charley miss seeing who/what Harper is? What is the deal about naming her sofa? Is that supposed to be funny…?
Well, it didn't really help that Charley is pretty discombobulated at the start. She's still recovering from Earl's torture and her dad's betrayal. And, maybe---and I'm really stretching here---maybe...oh, who am I kidding? I think Jones must have been distracted or in too much of a hurry and her editors weren't paying attention.
Charley's a ditz with delusions about reality. She can't pay the rent for her current apartment but she thinks she should get first dibs on the bigger one? She wants to sell her jeep and move out of town? She bought radio ads in Japanese?
It's just too easy. She's been holed up in her apartment, a client shows up, and suddenly Charley's going out in the world. [Yeah, I've condensed some of the details, but essentially…]
I did enjoy her telling Ubie that "she's getting away" and that bit about ordering up "a taco with extra salsa" when she visited the parents. And the way she laid into her stepmother and then her dad! Whoa...go, girl! Oh, yeah...health food...that green, fuzzy stuff in the fridge...LOL
The whole story is like a bunch of one-liners loosely held together. Charley's ADD in her attention span and so is Jones' writing, veering from her eating habits to Amber's pointing out how Reyes can make a girl scream, 3B being pulled from under her feet, the disjointed conversations with Uncle Bob, and meeting Pari's dates. And what is the deal with knocking people up at three in the frickin' morning? It was cute a few times, but now she's simply obnoxious with it. And she is so clueless about how Garret feels. [I think Charley is related to Dani O'Malley from Fever World.]
It's been two months and Charley hasn't left her apartment. After her dad's betrayal, she's even packed up her office and moved it into her personal space. And with all the shopping she's been doing, it's a good thing she can hit up Cookie's television and buy yet more stuff!
But life is inexorable. Uncle Bob has a fire bug burning down buildings; a new client is terrified for her life; Reyes wants nothing to do with her even as he's getting beat down; and, demons are possessing clairvoyants and homing in on her with but one idea.
Charlotte "Charley" Davidson is usually a reasonably busy PI and reaper. But for the past two months, she's been self-medicating with Ben & Jerry's and the Buy From Home channel. I think she's about ready to open her own store with all the stuff she's bought... Mercy is what she's named her red Jeep; Margaret is the name of her gun; and, Danger and Will Robinson are her tits---you don't even know wanna know what else she's named! Artemis is the ghost of Donovan's Rottweiler; she's now Charley's guardian dog, and she loves playing in the shower.
Gemma is her psychologist sister trying to help her cope with the aftermath of Third Grave Dead Ahead. Uncle Bob, a.k.a., Ubie, is a detective with the Albuquerque PD, although, he did put Reyes away for ten years for a murder he didn't commit. Denise is the stepmother from hell. I do like that Charley is not willing to forgive and forget...it's such a real reaction! Charley's not speaking to her dad, Leland. Not after his betrayal.
Cookie Kowalski is her best friend and receptionist for Charley's agency. Amber is Cookie's twelve-year-old daughter. And Amber knows who Reyes is and what he does. Angel Garza is the thirteen-year-old gangbanger ghost Charley employs; she sends his paychecks to his mom. Aunt Lil's been hanging around forever (at least, this installment says so). She died sometime in the 1960s, but doesn't know she's dead.
Reyes Farrow is the Son of Satan. Literally. He was finally freed and cleared of the murder for which he was imprisoned. He seems to be picking up some scary new powers and has a interesting sideline at the local fight club where's he's taking out demons. Kim is the girl he was raised to view as his sister and Earl Walker was the man whom Reyes thought was his father. In truth, Earl was a nightmare walking who set his "son" up for his supposed murder and tortured Charley in Third Grave. Elaine Oake was a Reyes prison groupie; now, she's his fight manager and providing him with a place to live. With her.
Officer David Taft doesn't particularly like Charley, but he does like her reports on his dead sister, Strawberry Shortcake, who is spending a lot of time with her best [ghost] friend, Blue, at Blue's brother, Rocket's---he's a ghost who tracks every person who dies and he lives at the abandoned nuthouse. Special Agent Carson is with the FBI and, with the cases Charley helps solve, she's willing to put up with Charley.
Pari is a tattoo artist and Charley's friend; Tre is her hunky apprentice. Garret Swopes is a skiptracer who's been ignoring her since he "died" in Third Grave Dead Ahead and got proof about Charley's vocation. Mr. Zamora is the superintendent for Charley's apartment building. The mother superior feels guilty about not believing in Sister Mary Elizabeth, who can hear angels speaking. None of them feel guilty enough to actually tell Charley anything that might help her. Mr. Wong is the ghost who lives in a corner of her apartment; now, he's hidden behind all the boxes. Quentin is a deaf teenage boy Charley takes under her protection. The Bandits are a biker gang Charley met: Donovan, Eric, and Michael. Sabrina and Edwards are helping out with a "special project".
Harper Lowell is Charley's latest client. She's either completely nuts or has reason to be terrified. Her dad, Jason, is ill and seems to be dying while her stepmother is a bitch and a half. She certainly is obsessed with ensuring that everyone knows that Harper is her stepdaughter. Her stepbrother, Art, is her best friend. And he's in love with her. Dr. Julia Penn is an example of some of the worst psychologists, one who is never wrong. However wrong. Mrs. Beecher is the just-fired housekeeper of thirty-some years; Dewey is her son.
Hedeshi is the demon leader after Charley and Reyes.
The cover is a swirl of smoky bright green against a black background with Charley in her ever-present jeans and a green tank top to match the swirls. Her back is to us---makes it easier to see the rhinestone skull on her back pocket---with a full-length scythe, poised and ready to swish.
I do enjoy it when an author includes the book's position within the series, and I'm very curious as to how many permutations Jones can come up with. This title is, obviously, the Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet, and it is much too appropriate to events, sadly.