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In Grave Beginnings by R.R. Virdi, Vincent Graves spends his almost after-life jumping from body to body to solve his host body’s murder. This latest case is the oddest he’s come across so far, from a host who looks 20 years younger than he should and apparently just dropped dead to the FBI agent who he just can’t seem to shake. This case is his most difficult yet.
Vincent Graves is a pretty funny guy even if his humor can be a little morbid, but you might be that way too if you were reborn into murdered bodies only long enough to find the murderer. He made me laugh, but he’s not the only character worth reading about in this book. First there’s Church, who’s kind of a mystery in and of himself. All we can really be sure of in the beginning is that he is who Graves answers to.
My favorite character is Ortiz though. She’s not the most badass female to ever walk into a story, but she’s not a push over either. She freaks out every now and again but pulls it together, even if only barely, over and over again. I love this realistic portrayal of a strong woman getting in over her head in a world she doesn’t know anything about. She doesn’t just miraculously become okay with everything she’s seeing. Vincent has had several (short) lifetimes to get used to the world he inhabits. He’s jaded. Ortiz is fresh meat.
There was part of the story I was a little sketchy about at first. Vincent spends his after life jumping from body to body and he retains a little piece of everyone who hosts his soul. It makes his self-identity a mystery. It’s a fascinating concept and brings all new meaning to losing yourself in your work, but I was worried that there would be no answers here. But as he works through his most difficult case to date, you can see him becoming more of himself. It was beautifully done.
Oh and let me just say, I completely geeked out when he had salamanders in the story. I love mythology and the supernatural. I love that he looked deeper for creatures to bring into his world. It wasn’t just vampires, shape shifters (werewolves and the like), and a sprinkling of fae here and there like so many urban fantasies are prone to do. Also, gnomes. Little, bearded, smartass gnomes. Let me just reel in my inner geek and get back to business.

Rating: 4.5 There’s so much room to grow and I can’t wait to read book two. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough to any one who likes urban fantasy or mysteries.

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