THAT MAN LOVES HIS POST-IT NOTES
Darynda Jones is quite adept at writing three literary devices – humorous sarcasm, flighty internal monologue and bone-chilling violence. She also has the ability to transition, seamlessly and naturally, from sarcastic and flighty to deadly serious within the space of a single word or a heartbeat.
In the four books prior to this entry, we have only covered about four months in chronological time and only three days have passed since the conclusion of the fourth book. Reyes has moved into the apartment next door but Charley has yet to use her key, as she is still worried that he is the serial arsonist plaguing Albuquerque. Charley has made a tenuous truce with her father and has moved back into her office above the bar. And speaking of the bar, even though it is a cop hangout, it has surely started attracting a lot more women since her father hired a new cook.
And speaking of the bar again, Charley’s current PI job, surveillance of a possible cheating husband, goes terribly awry when Cookie pulls a gun on the cheater during a sting operation in the bar. And to add to all that furor, Charley awakens to find the ghost of a blond child under her bed, clawing at the slats. Then more blond female ghosts begin showing up, all manifesting similar behaviors. When yet a different apparition appears to Charley, telling about her body hidden under a bridge, Charley has another murder to solve. And to top it all off, Charley finds out that a private corporation has bought the asylum where Rocket records the names of the dead, has razed the biker gang’s house and has fenced the asylum with razor wire.
Before the book reaches its last page, each of these quandaries will be resolved. But unknown to Charley, or the reader, two of those quandaries are linked together and the author again shows her ability to shift from “the thrill of victory” to “the agony of defeat” in the space of a breath. So, beware! If you remember the horrific torture at the hands of scalpel-wielding Earl Walker that Charley suffered in the third book of the series, then you are barely and minimally prepared for what you will read in Chapters 19 and 20 of this book. While we know that the type of violence that is described here truly does happen in reality, it is the writing skill of Darynda Jones that makes the reader feel full force every degradation that is inflicted upon Charley. By the end of the scene, you will have relegated Earl Walker to the status of an amateur and a wanna-be. And you will be paralyzed with fear as you wonder how Charley will survive when she is too concussed to form even the slightest summons for the Big Bad.
Jones has the ability to get a reader so invested in the characters that one can forget that it is just a book. She also has the ability to make the reader notice connections from one book to the next without rewriting sections of those previous books verbatim. Most of these connections have to do with the prophecies that have been told to Charley about her role as Grim Reaper and Portal to Heaven. And in this book, those connections are particularly related to the prophecy that Charley will kill Reyes at some point. However, there is also a veiled hint to the meaning behind “coming together” that is part of the prophecy that states Charley and Reyes can create a direct conduit between Heaven and Hell.
Near-death experience or not, prophecies or not, and Grim Reaper duties aside, the last chapter of this novel ends well. It ends very well, in fact. Some might call it a cliffhanger ending. I call it a hook, a double hook, really, setting up the action for the next tale. Actually, there is enough hanging on that hook to keep us occupied for several more novels.
Cover Art from Goodreads