Quantum Leap and Supernatural Meet Sherlock Holmes

A Review of R.R Virdi’s Grave Beginnings by Casey Hadford

My first thought when reading of Grave Beginnings was, “Why the hell didn’t I think of a plot like this?” I thought to myself. Virdi has managed to create a story of endless potential and the fantasy writer in me would love the opportunity to play with this Urban fantasy. Grave Beginnings follows supernatural detective Vincent Graves, who’s cases begin with him waking up from death in a foreign body. Confused? Let me elaborate. Graves travels from body to body of the recently deceased and his job is to find the supernatural creature that killed the body he inhabits, and eliminate the threat.

Vincent’s job is one of mystery, as each time he wakes he has no clue whose body he is in, and his handler, the mysterious Church, doesn’t give him much to go on, except a time limit on how long he has to solve the case. While Church’s role in the novel could be described as a common fantasy trope, his relationship with Graves and the mystery surrounding him made his presence in the book a welcome one.

Speaking of Church and Graves’ relationship, one of the most enjoyable elements of the book was Vincent’s smartass personality, which offered up several lines of dialogue that had my ribs hurting from laughter. Graves reminded me a lot of Greg House, which is rather fitting because House was based off Sherlock Holmes and Graves is, like Holmes, a detective. The pop-culture references in the novel were tremendous and Graves’ use of creative-cussery was a bright spot. For instance, any book that has the line, “Supernatural douche kitty” should be purchased immediately.

Vincent Graves has been at the job so long he does not remember who he originally was, or what his original name was, and this contributes to his motivation in the novel in a way that gives his character more depth than being a snarky smartass who’s good at his job. I connected with Graves and got the sense that he carries a lot on his shoulders and cares about what he does.

Don’t expect the average monster to pop up in the story; Virdi will keep you guessing what the monster is until the very end. The story had the pace of a thriller with a classic detective noir flare to it. Combine that with monsters and the result is a story I didn’t want to put down start to finish.

For a debut novel, I was mostly amazed with the voice of R.R Virdi’s prose as it was incredibly distinctive. While it had similarities to fellow urban fantasy author Jim Butcher, I feel like I could pick it out of a crowd of writers. There were a couple of spots where things flew by too quickly, but the story was grounded enough that the fast-paced nature of the writing felt like an enjoyable roller coaster ride as opposed to a train ride where you can only pick out details of what passes you by.

Grave Beginnings was a story that I really enjoyed and recommend to anyone who enjoys shows like Supernatural or characters with a snarky sense of humor. I think the story has enough range to appeal to people who don’t normally read urban fantasy or mystery. Overall, this is a fun and fast-paced read and Vincent Graves is a character interesting and funny enough that I would read a story about him standing in line at the DMV.


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