I have very mixed feelings about this book. I love this series. I love the characters. The wit. The charm. The sexy and smoldering Reyes Farrow. And you can find all of those things in this book. So on one hand, I enjoyed it. I laughed. And I quickly warmed to amnesiac Charley, who –despite her memory loss– is essentially the same loveable person she has been since book 1. The problem is that this book felt like total filler. Other than a couple of revelations at the very end, it’s essentially a prop to get us from the explosive ending of Eighth Grave to whatever is coming next. A fact which I found both disappointing and frustrating.
The climax of the last book was heartbreaking. That it caused Charley to check out of her regular life and start over with a blank slate somewhere is kind of understandable. But this entire book is spent without Charley knowing who she is. It’s too much. I spent the whole time waiting for her to remember her identity, which kept me from really buying in to the story. It was a distraction and it felt like we were spinning our wheels.
Charley’s friends and family are all with her in the small town where she landed, keeping up the ruse that they don’t know her history. Again, I have mixed feelings. I am glad they were present, because I love the relationships she has with Cookie, Uncle Bob, Swopes, and Osh. (And of course, Reyes goes without saying.) The interactions she has with them as “Janey Doerr” are virtually the same as she has as Charley, which is good in the sense that it’s fun and familiar. But it’s bad because it messed with my suspension of disbelief. That they all picked up their lives and created fake ones across the country. That their relationships with Charley play out the exactly same way when she doesn’t know them. It’s just too… convenient. This is a smart, snappy series that is great at surprising me. Here, it felt less so.
There is a side mystery involving a kidnapped family that was fair. It gave Charley a reason to sleuth but it was not tied to the bigger story as her mysteries usually are. Like everything else in the book, it felt forced in a way this series rarely is.
I wish I felt differently. Because Reyes is still loyal and delicious and damn near perfect. And Cookie may be the best sidekick ever. And Charley is still wonderful Charley no matter what name she goes by. I just want the rest of the magic back.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
The Dirt on Ninth Grave
by Darynda Jones
Release Date: January 12, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press