Graves Robbed, Heirlooms Returned (Reed Lavender #1) #SPFBO


Graves Robbed, Heirlooms Returned by Ashley Capes is the second of the books I’ve read this month as part of the SPFBO Competition.  Stranded by Rosalind Tate was the first book I read and my review can be found here.


Graves Robbed is the start of an Urban Fantasy series with what I found to be quite a unique concept. Reed Lavender is a detective with a difference.  He looks like your regular run of the mill human being but his family are far from the mundane.  Nephew to ‘Death’ he is only partly human.  A story which is still in the making and I imagine more will be revealed with each instalment.

I enjoyed this.  I’ve read Capes before and I do like his style of writing.  With this particular story there is no hand holding.  You’re thrown pretty much into the plot and just need to run with it.  Lavender is working a case involving a runaway – his unique genealogy gives him the ability to talk to the dead – which can come in very useful in murder cases and the like.  He can also call on Death although this isn’t always terribly helpful, that being said, having a bunch of cousins who you can use in tricky situations does have it’s benefits.  I would also mention that he has a couple of tricks up his sleeve and that help to protect him but I won’t elaborate too much here.

So, Lavender’s case leads him to uncover something much more sinister taking place in the city.  Something that seems to involve summoning something dark, strange cult like behavior, sacrifices and kidnapping.

The setting is much as you would expect with urban fantasy.  Contemporary, modern day but with plenty of supernatural aspects including Gods and reapers.

As with most urban fantasy I usually find the first book is more involved with getting to know the main character and the world and Graves Robbed is consistent in that respect.  To an extent being thrown straight into the action left me a little bit perplexed to begin with, especially in terms of the other characters and becoming familiar with who everyone was, but I fairly quickly found my feet.

The plot is a little scattered, maybe a little too busy for the actual size of the book.  I think this is slightly under 150 pages and there’s quite a lot of action involved.  I must confess that when I first started to read I initially felt like I’d missed something, maybe a prequel or something with a little more background but I don’t think that is the case.  As it is I think the shortness of the story works against it a little bit, it doesn’t feel like there’s enough time to become familiar with the characters and keep on top of the storyline.  Basically, and this is a fairly consistent theme with me when it comes to novella length stories – I think I would have liked a little more.  Not padding just for the sake of it, but a bit more time setting up the people and their relationships to each other.  That is, of course, a personal preference.

However, criticisms aside I did find this a good read.  I liked the idea of a character that is related to Death and I enjoyed meeting Lavender’s cousins.  I think there is so much potential for this series and I would pick up the next instalment to see what the author comes up with next.  I would also mention that this first instalment doesn’t conclude the story, things are still very much in the air and in fact Lavender’s situation has become even more complicated by the final page and I suspect he might regret some of the promises he has been handing out like candy.

Overall, I think if you like UF this is a series that you will enjoy.  It’s short, entertaining, easy to get along with.  I suspect the second and third instalments will really flesh out the characters and place and probably drop a few more clues as to exactly who Reed Lavender really is and what he’s truly capable of.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.