Monday, November 13, 2017

Hit List: Top 10 Vincent Graves Moments from "The Grave Reports" by R. R. Virdi

Vincent Graves. Those who know him, love him. Those who don’t know him--have no idea what they’re missing. A man reduced to literally a soul and begrudgingly whisked through time and space at the behest of a higher power, if there’s anything Vince consistently carries with him, it’s the sarcasm, the nerdy references, the brash impulsiveness--and at the bottom of it all, the unshakable belief that he can use his constantly-repeating life to make all the difference in the world, even if he has to break a few supernatural rules to do it. It’s that heart that drives us back to him and keeps us thirsty for more--and it’s moments like these ten (in no particular ranked order) that live in our imaginations and keep us giggling even when the peril is at its greatest!

1. Scaring The Bejeezus Out Of The Old Groundskeeper

We first meet Vince Graves in Grave Beginnings… literally bashing his way out of a grave. If that’s not a totally fitting introduction for a character, I don’t know what is! 
It’s not just the fact that he knows all the statistics and “insider information” about being buried in a coffin, though… It’s when he gets out, and there’s this old man standing there--Vince has the gall to greet him with the well-timed phrase, “Well whaddya know? You really can dig your way here from China!” Whereupon the groundskeeper clutches his chest and keels over… and so the fun and games begin! 

2. "Supernatural Douche Kitty."

Hands-down my favorite line from the first book, Grave Beginnings. And absolutely a fitting insight into his character. See, the supernatural don’t fight by what we mortals consider “fair.” Things like inanimate objects, gravity, empirical senses--everything is fair game when you’re tracking a supernatural entity! This was the moment, though, where things began to really take a turn for the “holy altered state of reality, Batman!” Vince is on the trail of discovering the monster who killed the person whose body he currently inhabits (yeah… it takes some getting used to…) when said entity decides to throw him off--by animating a bronze tiger statue in front of a nearby Asian restaurant! Vince responds with his customary dry wit, understating the visual of a full-size tiger made of metal chasing him down the streets of Manhattan by referring to it as a “kitty.” And from that moment on, I knew I was going to love this series forever.

3. “You Just Fell Out Of A Building!”

One of the qualities of Vince’s strange life that we see established over and over again is the fact that his position in the afterlife means that the body he inhabits has the ability to heal from most traumatic injuries. (Those not beyond the scope of medicine, that is) Case in point? Vince gets cornered in a penthouse on a hotel in Grave Beginnings--and the building is on fire. This wouldn’t faze him much all by itself, but in this particular incident, there happens to be someone with him, a supremely capable but supremely mortal person. Vince pulls some last-ditch fire-escape stunt for the person, but winds up doing a free-fall himself. He comes to in a hospital, and his erstwhile “partner” can’t figure out how he could have possibly survived--and Vince is faced with the conundrum of exposing secrets that no average mortal should know, or lose this one important connection to the mortal world--something he values more than his supernatural counterparts. 

4. The Scrooge

One thing that readers might not know, although it becomes pretty clear as you read: author Virdi is a massive foodie. Hence you will see at least one food item come front and center in each of his books. In Grave Measures, it’s cereals such as Lucky Charms and Captain Crunch. In Dangerous Ways, the main character leases the ground floor of the building he owns to a baker. But the real piece de resistance and the testament to culinary exploits in literature belongs to Grave Beginnings and its introduction of the gut-bomb known as “The Scrooge.” According to the description, this dish contains the following:

    - Hamburger bun
    - 2 Pancakes (one on top, one on bottom, just within the bun)
    - Thick pile of Bacon
    - Burger patty
    - Chicken breast
    - Scrambled eggs
    - Fried potatoes
And the whole mess is apparently slathered in syrup. You are a true fan if you have entertained the desire for this to exist, if only so you can try it JUST ONCE.

5. Interrogating a Wraith in A Towel (Vince, not the Wraith)
Not his proudest moment, probably, but definitely memorable! When the supernatural entity Vince is trying to identify in Grave Beginnings ends up pegging him as an impostor first, Vince discovers he has to be on his guard at absolutely every moment, or risk losing his host—and that includes the Wraith that attacks him in the midst of a shower! He might be butt-naked, but Vince isn’t unprepared when it comes to getting the information he needs from slimy, soul-sucking supernatural sleazeballs! (An epithet he would be proud of, I’m sure!) It’s a hilarious scene involving iron chains, salt, an unexpected mortal witness, and absolutely zero clothes on the part of our intrepid monster-hunter/paranormal investigator. When Vince Graves is on a case, he doesn’t let petty things like clothes keep him from seeing that justice is done!

6. Church
Technically, Church serves as Vince’s supervisor, his contractor, his conduit to the powers-that-be in the celestial realm. And generally, Church meets Vince in a church, any church. Described as someone very modelesque in his features and painfully geeky in his fashion choices (pocket protector and all), Church nonetheless possesses attributes that allow him to remain enigmatic and intriguing in spite of his plainness. He appears instantaneously, he reads minds, he chooses Vince’s cases, so he possesses some level of omniscience--and he bears the brunt of some of Vince’s most colorful curses. But there is something else that Church receives from Vince: a healthy dose of care. Church might be bland and impersonal in most of his dealings with the mortal world, but it is obvious he cares about Vince, and by that token, is made to care about the things Vince cares about. Church is the one who keeps Vince living, over and over again, who equips him, or drops hints when Vince is being too stubborn, and bears with the sarcastic remarks, blatant rebellion, and a whole lot of abuse with the deadpan patience of a saint. But deep down, if there was no Church, there would be no Vince. (BONUS: >Minor spoiler< Church makes a cameo in Dangerous Ways. You’re welcome.)

7. Graves, Interrupted
In Grave Measures, Vince has the misfortune of reanimating the body of a mental patient. So rather than trying to pass for a sane man among a bunch of “normal” human beings, we see Graves in a setting where he can basically be open about things that he would normally keep quiet--and nobody is really fazed because they already assume he’s crazy! Watching him interacting and observing the different patients around the asylum, we see that his focus is pretty much unchanged: these are people who need to be saved, and it still hurts when people start dying while he’s still in the midst of the investigation. Having Vince in an enclosed space, though, rather than roaming the streets of Manhattan, provides more time for introspection, and the peril is less physical than mental, giving us a more intimate glimpse into the man he really is, rather than an outer show of bravado he put on quite a bit in the first book.

8. Little Ghost Whisperer
Want to see what a man is really made of? Watch how he acts around a little kid. While in the mental hospital in Grave Measures, Vince meets a young girl named Lizzie--and she sees ghosts. What is more, she knows that he’s not really who he pretends to be… because she’s already seen the ghost of the dead man. For once, Vince finds somebody in the mortal world who has a quirk that he doesn’t, giving him the chance to see what it’s like when somebody interacts with the part of the spirit realm that others (including him) can’t see. Lizzie is awesome because she brings out the protective softie in Vince, and also has plenty of gumption herself, meeting his sarcasm with simple innocence that completely disarms him at every turn.

9. All The References

A second common trait from the author lovingly included in the books is all the nerdy references! Some are blatantly sourced... others are subtle quirks of character that seem funny at first glance... then laugh-out-loud hilarious when you’ve actually seen the show or film referenced.
Here are a few of my favorite references, from both Grave Measures and Grave Beginnings.

“What’s with the twenty-four hours? I’m not Kiefer Sutherland.” 
 (Complaining to Church about his time limit; Grave Beginnings)
I ran my healed right hand through the blonde locks and sighed. “Man, still not a ginger.” (Getting his first good look at his borrowed body, Grave Beginnings)

With all of my paranormal experiences over the years, I wouldn’t be surprised if the statue came to life and started yelling at me. I was very short on time and didn’t need to be yelled at by Robin Williams.  
(Visiting his "host's" place of employment, the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Grave Beginnings)

“A… genie? Like the blue genie from Aladdin?” she said, disbelievingly. 
“Yeah, except it isn’t blue, doesn’t have a friendly temperament, and is not voiced by Robin Williams.” (Trying to explain Djinn to an unsuspecting federal agent, Grave Beginnings)
It was like that scene from Jurassic Park. Don’t move and the T-Rex won’t spot you. (Trying not to get spotted, Grave Measures)
I spoke in my best Luke Skywalker impersonation. “Your overconfidence is your weakness.” I smiled to myself. (Getting one-up on an opponent, Grave Measures)

“I serve the Mother of Spiders, Vincent Graves.” 
Where was Admiral Ackbar when you needed him? 
(Stumbling right into a perfectly obvious trap, Grave Measures)

“It’s a frickin’ Nazgul!” 
(Naming the ominous "shadow creatures" plaguing the mental hospital, Grave Measures)

My voice sunk to a deep bellow and I roared. “You shall not pass!” 
(Defeating a "shadow monster" plaguing the mental hospital, Grave Measures)

I answered [her glare] with an exaggerated flourish of hands. “Proceed, Bones.” 
“Damnit, Jim, I’m an agent, not a doctor!” 
(Preparing to perform a covert autopsy on a recently-deceased body, Grave Measures)

“What are you two doing here?” 
I threw my hands up in the air and shouted, “Captain Crunch!” 
I panicked. Can you blame me? Maybe I should’ve dropped my pants and shouted pudding? (Getting caught in the act of a covert autopsy, Grave Measures)

“Good job, Robin,” she quipped. 
I glared. There is no reality, no train of thought, no plane of existence where I am not the goddamned Batman. 
(Defeating a particularly vicious supernatural nasty, and only getting partial credit from his partner, Grave Measures)

10. Out-Foxing A Kitsune

Every paranormal investigator/monster hunter needs an informant. In Vince’s line of work, he runs across plenty of beings who are information brokers, like Gnosis the gnome (his contact in Grave Beginnings)—but also sometimes his dealings with the supernatural realm cross over into territory of much greater power, such as his acquaintance with Lyshae, a Kitsune with immense power and connections. Gnosis is short, so Vince finds him easy to intimidate. Lyshae? Not so much. She is extremely clever, and loves to pit her abilities with illusions and her powerful connections in the supernatural world against Vince’s smartass mouth and his knowledge of the mortal world. Anytime Lyshae shows up, you know Vince is in for some really entertaining mischief! He outfoxes (heh, pun intended!) her several times in Grave Measures, the book that marks her first appearance—but Lyshae isn’t one to give in easily, so you know she is going to return many times before the series is over!

I could go on, but my fondest hope is that these ten miniature samples have whet your appetite for more, and you’ll be heading onto Amazon, iBooks, or Barnes & Noble to pick up your own copies, just in time for us to announce BOOK 3 IN THE SERIES!(Surprise!!) Grave Dealings is now a thing that exists, and I am SO FREAKING EXCITED!! Let the shenanigans continue!

Find out more details on his website: or on his Facebook author page!

(If you're still not sure about the books, check out my reviews for  Grave Beginnings, Grave Measures, and Dangerous Ways... which also include Amazon links for those three books!)

*This post is part of a Blog Tour in honor of the release of Grave Dealings. Be sure to check out these other "stops" in the tour as well! (Will update as links come available)

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