My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A nicely plotted first book in a new series, Grave Beginnings by R.R. Virdi is the story of VIncent Graves. Or, at least, that is what he is called now. Vincent is dead, and has no memory of who or what he was before he died. His soul is reincarnated in the bodies of those who have died by supernatural means, and Vincent is tasked with solving the murders, and bringing the supernatural entity responsible to justice. When Grave Beginnings opens, Vincent awakens in a coffin. He breaks out and begins the search to find the killer of his current body, a museum curator named Norman. Along the way, he meets federal agent Camilla Ortiz, and together they fight their way through fire-breathing salamanders, Elementals, and statues come to life to get to the real bad guy.
The premise of the book is intriguing: that a soul can come back to inhabit another’s body in order to avenge a murder committed by a supernatural being. This first story is well-concieved, with some nice twists and surprises. Vincent is fun to read. He’s a bit of a smart ass, with a sardonic sense of humor that lends itself to the style of the story. Ortiz is a bit stereotypical, in that she is the skeptic who thinks Norman/Vincent is simply crazy until she is faced with some very real, very otherworldly threats. She does serve her purpose well and when she is in danger, you worry for her- always the sign of a good character. Vincent’s contact from the afterlife, known only as Church since he appears to Vincent in churches, is somewhat archetypal, but is enough of an enigma that he left me wanting to know more about him.
The story is fast-paced for the most part, and the action moves along at sometimes break neck speed. The style is reminiscent of hard-boiled detective stories’ with a gritty, dark feel. There is enough mystery and action to keep the pages turning.
So, with all that, why three stars? Because the book fails where many independently published book do: the errors. There are mechanical errors, like missing commas and other punctuation mistakes. There are several instances of a noun being used as a verb. The run-on sentences, which often don’t do much more than restate the same thought in different words, often interrupt the quick, sharp flow of the style. And there is one physically impossible scene that popped me out of the story near the end. It’s not a long book as it stands, but could do with some judicious editing to improve pacing and avoid reptition.
I don’t want to say don’t read this, because I truly did enjoy the story, and the premise intrigues me. It is a first in a series, so I do hope the problems can be improved as it goes on. I am looking forward to reading more about Vincent Graves and his next assignment.
Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.
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