Oh Charley, Charley, Charley....how I love you.
In this installment we pick right back up after the events of the previous book. Charley has "rescued" Reyes by binding him to his corporeal body. That is a pretty darned bad thing for the Son of Satan. For one thing, his human self is a convicted murderer and is thus behind bars in a maximum security prison. For another thing, when he can't go all astral-projection-smoke-dude, he can't swoop in and slice people in half with his lethal smoke sword and thus save Charley a bunch of trouble. This has major ramifications later in the story.
Right now, Reyes is super pissed at Charley and Charley is trying to set him free but to no avail. In the meantime she is working on two cases, one a missing persons case, the second wife of a beloved doctor whose first wife died quickly and mysteriously. And the second case involves Reyes. Is it possible the man Reyes was convicted of killing is actually still alive?
All that in addition to her regular duties as a Reaper as well as navigating through some fairly newish family dynamics makes for a great read.
When I first started reading this book, I was dismayed. The few several pages had a frantic-humor-trying-too-hard feel that was absolutely absent in the other books. I love Charley's irreverent sense of humor, but this felt manic and over the top.
Luckily that all disappeared when we meet the very first dead person who seeks her out for passage. Suddenly the book that had felt off kilter, righted itself and felt familiar again.
Up until this book I hadn't been very sold on Reyes. But this book put an end to that. Maybe having him constrained to his corporeal self so much made him much more real to me. I especially love his interaction with his ex-cell mate Amador and his family. And it was both eye opening and incredibly sad to read more about his background with his abusive father.
Another interesting aspect of this book is the shifting dynamic in Charley's family. She and her sister Gemma have gotten closer, we barely see her toxic step-mother in this one (yay!) but her normally rock-solid relationship with her father is damaged in the aftermath of his actions in the last book. Neither one seems to be able to work through it. I'd be interested to see how this continues to play out given his burgeoning realization that Charley is much more special than he'd previously believed.
The humor is still very much in effect. Especially between Charley & Cookie and Charley & Swopes. It wasn't as laugh-out-loud as the first book, but it was still very much another character in the book almost.
My biggest quibble with the book is the lack of dead people. Ok that sounds weird, but really if you read these books you know what I mean. For me, some of the best parts of the book are Charley's interactions with the dead. She really only has three smallish encounters with the departed this time. Most of the story centers on Charley's cases, with the Reyes case seeming to take center stage. So I was really missing the dead people.
Also, Charley finally meets the biker gang that protects the haunted asylum. She has a connection with one of the bikers. I really liked the biker and his reactions to Charley, but I don't want Darynda Jones to have Charley go all Stephanie Plum on us and waffle endlessly is a tedious love triangle. I don't want these books to devolve into a Team-so-and-so drama. If Charley has a romantic relationship, great but let her pick a guy and go with it.
Still, I adore
this series so hard. When I closed the book I said "Ok, when is the next one?"