3.5 stars - An overall fun m/m mystery with a nice low-key romance.
MC Jamie seems to have graduated from the Josh Lanyon School for Amateur Sleuths, and he shares a few traits similar to the much-loved Adrien English. Like mild-mannered novelist and mystery bookshop owner Adrien, who found himself pulled into murder investigations and sometimes had his heart condition act up at inopportune times, lead character Jamie is a mild-mannered reference librarian and commitment-phobe who is pulled into investigating a last request by his recently deceased ex, and has an asthma condition that acts up at inopportune times.
My comparison is mostly to direct those who like Lanyon's mysteries. If you appreciate his dynamic, you may enjoy Cited to Death. Jamie is a sympathetic character who doggedly continues his investigation, even as the threats pile-up. (Arson, beatings, and tire slashings won't stop a librarian from finding the truth!)
Although readable and fun, I think this is Perry's first novel, and it feels it. The writing is nicely straight-forward, but overly simple at times. ("I did X and Y and then did Z." etc.) There's a rawness that will probably get smoothed out with more practice and editing. That, and one scene devolved into script speak, like:
Me: I could tell why it went this route. Perry was balancing between multiple characters.
Example Person: And she most likely wanted to have the multiple characters interacting without having to say "Kevin said" and "Jamie said", etc.
Beans the Cat: But it's a jarring transition mid-scene that only lasts a few lines so probably should have been revised somehow.
Jamie's POV at times reads almost like a diary. There's a recitation of events that happened that gives me that feeling, especially when he's discussing his actions.
But even if the writing is somewhat raw, I did have a fun time reading it, and had a hard time putting this one down, especially during the second half. The mystery kept me guessing, and pulled me along as multiple suspects came in and out of the narrative. (I felt tense for poor harried Jamie! Lots of things piled up on that guy. Good thing faithful ex Peter was around to help.)
The romance with Peter was also nicely there, but low-key. Peter is supportive without being aggressive, which was good since Jamie is so skittish about relationships and getting hurt (and falling in love.) Their scenes together had a nice feel, and even though the few bits of sexy times are very off-page, I didn't miss it.
Another thing I really dug was that the characters communicated. Whether it was Jamie alerting the authorities (and his cop brother) to the threats, or him and Peter eventually hashing out their feelings, it was nicely refreshing to have characters getting each other on the same page about what's going on. That meant avoiding annoying miscommunications and actions that happened simply because characters didn't share what they knew. That was a pleasant change. (I also loved that Jamie saved things in Dropbox, although it never came up as a needed point to the story. I just like the idea of characters doing that, so if stuff is stolen later, they can't be all, "You took the only evidence I had!")
Perry wrote in her blog that two more books are planned, with the second maybe coming out this summer. I'm on board the Jamie train, so am looking forward to checking out the next mystery.
If you like m/m mysteries and are fine with a nice, non-explicit romance subplot, this one may fit you well.