When I heard that Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet by Darynda Jones was going to be darker than the previous three novels, I wasn’t quite sure I believed anyone. I mean, after all, Charley Davidson is still our heroine and her BFF Cookie would still be around. While the first three novels aren’t “light”, the eloquently written (ie superbly hilarious) dialogue and thoughts we see from Charley, just how dark could Darynda go with Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet. Well, never doubt the author…they’re usually right on these things.
Sometimes being the grim reaper really is that. Grim. And since Charley’s last case went so awry, she has taken a couple months off to wallow in the wonders of self-pity. But when a woman shows up on her doorstep convinced someone is trying to kill her, Charley has to force herself to rise above. Or at least get dressed. She quickly realizes something is amiss when everyone the woman knows swears she’s insane. The more they refute the woman’s story, the more Charley believes it.
In the meantime, the sexy, sultry son of Satan, Reyes Farrow, has been cleared of all charges. He is out of prison and out of Charley’s life, as per her wishes and several perfectly timed death threats. But his absence has put a serious crimp in her sex life. While there are other things to consider, like the fact that the city of Albuquerque has been taken hostage by an arsonist, Charley is having a difficult time staying away. Especially when it looks like Reyes may be involved. Just when life was returning to normal, Charley is thrust back into the world of crime, punishment, and the devil in blue jeans.
Poor Charley, she’s still reeling from the events that occurred back in Third Grave Beneath Dead Ahead. She, at first, isn’t quite as snarky as we’ve seen her in the past. I was saddened to see her as down as she was, but I do think she needed the down time. She also needed to see just how strong she really is. If certain things hadn’t occurred, she might not have realized it. Don’t fear, she doesn’t stay out of danger and tucked away in her apartment for long…apparently Cookie gets fed up with the moping and calls in an intervention. Yeah, you can imagine that went over well ;). Seriously, Charley finds her mojo again….and she does start learning more about her heritage as a reaper and her powers.
Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet felt a bit slower in pacing that the prior books. Charley isn’t out of danger, she always somehow manages to find it, but Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet felt more like a character growth type of book, something that has to happen sometimes in a series. Not quite a filler but not as suspenseful as we’re used to. Reyes gets pretty darn chatty about Charley’s history and we learn quite a bit that I’m sure will play critical roles in future books. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not complaining or saying I didn’t enjoy Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet. I did enjoy it, immensely. Charley and Reyes fans will be overjoyed at some of the happenings (I know I did a happy squeal!) and Charley is no meek reaper. I think we finally get a glimpse at how bad-assed she really is. Just something felt…different. Not in a bad way, not like something was off, just different. A certain je ne sais quoi quality if you will.
I have no complaints with the writing style… the snark and awesome dialogue are still present, the ebb and flow of the action was “normal”…not too fast or too slow. The tone is definitely darker than in previous books, so I can’t help but call Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet that bridge book and that is not, and should not, be taken to mean bad. They’re just necessary. I think we all know that there is going to be a big bad showdown between the demons and Charley/Reyes, and while certain characters may or may not be involved, it’s definitely going to change Charley. I think Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet is setting that up from the previous three novels, which have had more of a lighter tone, heavier on snark and wit, to the next part of the series, which will have to be heavier on action and Charley finding out what she’s capable of so she can win the final battle.
Please don’t let this review keep you from picking up Fourth Grave Beneath my Feet. It is just hard for me to put my finger on things. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and there are some major “woo hoo” and “finally” moments. Charley hasn’t lost her core personality, despite what she’s been through. I know I’m itching for Fifth Grave Past the Light and hoping we get even more Reyes/Charley time!