R. R. Virdi’s Grave Beginnings (the first book of the Grave Report series) is an urban fantasy novel about a man who wakes up inside the deceased bodies of those whose murder he is to solve.
With nothing more than a book of information he has collected on the supernatural baddies during his time investigating, the connections he’s made to supernatural entities, and a brutal time limit, Vincent Graves is determined to find out what killed the man whose body he inhabits.
This was an amazing book. I will tell you right now, readers of mine, that I generally do NOT read mysteries, or much of anything like them. Urban fantasy is not a genre I generally choose either, at least not the way it has evolved these days (I prefer the old-style urban fantasy with elves and fae in the city 😉 ). But something about this book made it different, made it not only something I enjoyed, but something I look forward to continuing.
Part of it was the snark. It’s not overwhelming, to me, but was very definitely present. And it was very, very well done. Not only the actual snarky comments (and thoughts) by the characters, but the responses other characters gave to it. They were realistic and varied, and often as amusing as the comments that sparked the responses in the first place.
Part of it was the mystery (no, not the murder mystery) surrounding the two characters you first meet. It draws you in, makes you determined to learn their secrets.
Part of it is the strong female character who is actually a person, not a stereotype. She isn’t unrealistic. She freaks out when she needs to (without becoming the traditional hysterical mess females are often made in books where they are not the primary main character), but at least as often she stands her ground and holds her own in situations she could never have expected. She accepts things that are nearly unbelievable and works with that knowledge, but still has trouble at times processing it fully. She is human, not a cardboard cutout put there to have a female in the story.
And yes, beyond the writing style, the story itself was very good as well. It had twists and turns and surprises. Ones that actually fit the story and blended well, not ones just thrown in for shock value, or because “this guide says I should have a twist at this point in the story” (yes, that is actually a thing).
Everything, the characters, the storyline, the writing style, it all blended together to make a novel that was captivating (even to someone who usually would never have even picked the book up based on its genre)
There were a few mistakes here and there, a couple places where the wording was somewhat awkward, or word-choice seemed odd. But they weren’t enough to pull me out of the story, and I can’t think of even one now to give as an example. Frankly, if I hadn’t been reading with the specific intent to review, I probably wouldn’t even remember that much about them.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a gift copy of this book by the author. It was not a reviewer copy, the review was not required or requested in return.