Charlie Davidson Series
by Darynda Jones
St. Martins Press
Please be warned: this is a series review, so while I’m trying not to post spoilers, I am talking about the series as a whole and not an individual book.
It’s been a long time since I’ve binged an entire series back to back. I prefer to pace myself by reading other things in between, because I easily burn out and end up quitting when I read one after the other. It’s a testament to Miss Darynda Jones that it didn’t happen to me this time. My Charley Davidson read started on a whim, but after completing the first book I was hooked. Nothing else seemed to hold my attention and I kept coming back to this thirteen book series. After getting caught up, I learned:
Charley Davidson = effective chaos.
Charley reminded me a lot of Stephanie Plum, but where Stephanie just sort of stumbles around blindly and things still worked out, Charley actually has real PI skills. They’re both ridiculous, but with Charley there’s something calculated about it. Plus, she’s witty. Witty always wins. Darynda took the mouthy, over the top, accident prone, heroine trope and made awesomesauce with it.
It wasn’t only Charley either. I also thought Darynda Jones did a fantastic job with all the characters in the series. I liked how Charley had a family. Frequently in the UF/PNR series the main character is alone in the beginning, but not Charley. She’s surrounded by best friends, an uncle, a father, a sister, a niece… the list goes on. They were her Scooby gang, because we all know the hero(ine) is only as effective as his/her team. Could Charley have managed without them, probably, but it was a lot more fun with them around. And probably a lot less tragic.
And of course, you can’t talk about the Charley Davidson series without mentioning the extremely combustible hotness that is Reyes Farrow!
I admit, when I was reading Second Grave on the Left, I found all the face holding, body pressing, and stroking, over the top. However, I grew to recognize how Charley and Reyes were like attracting magnets. They are unable to resist the pull that connects them at the mouth and groin. It was pretty damn steamy. He was pretty freaking sexy. Seriously, like perfectly described for Birdie. Dark wavy hair, dark eyes, leanly muscled, moves like a big cat, dangerous…. yum. I want the one. Shhhh, don’t tell my husband.
Now, this wouldn’t really be a review without any critiques. This series isn’t perfect. First, I couldn’t tell if the ever changing mythology was planned, or if the author just kept thinking of something new and supposedly ‘better’. With each book we ‘discovered’ everything we’d been told previously was wrong. In every book. It made it hard to connect with what made each character who they are. Their past/history wasn’t even remotely solid. It felt like trying to stand on water yet being asked to keep your balance. I felt off kilter the entire time, and not in the fun way.
I’m not saying there can’t be twists or surprises, only there were so many (about the same thing) I stopped being surprised and started feeling annoyed.
I also struggle anytime distrust between a couple is used as a plot device without merit. I have to believe it. I need to understand it. I need to relate. In the Charley Davidson books, the romance between Charley and Reyes would be the Romeo and Juliet trope. They are on opposite sides. It’s ‘to be together means the world would end’ type stuff. There’s a lot of warranted distrust in the beginning, however there reaches a point in the series when I started rolling my eyes. I read 12 books; I feel like it’s not a spoiler to say at a certain point over the course of twelve books there shouldn’t be any more doubts. The fact that the author still based the later books on distrust felt disingenuous. Charley and Reyes should have known better.
So no, the Charley Davidson series wasn’t without flaws. Still, those flaws never caused me to set the series aside. There was too much that was fun about them for me to care. I love Charley and Reyes, and I can’t wait to read how Darynda Jones closes the chapter on them. Because- see, it has to only be the first chapter in a saga. This story is far too big to be fully closed in one last book. There is no way.
We have to get a Beep series. Seriously.
Miss Jones, please tell me you’re writing about Beep!