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Hoarded to Death - Jamie Brodie Mystery #2

Hoarded to Death - Meg Perry

3.5 stars - An enjoyable sequel to Cited to Death. In this one, intrepid UCLA reference librarian Jamie and his stalwart bf Pete are asked to assist Jamie's ex-sister-in-law to clean up her hoarded apartment for a TV program. Of course, because this is a mystery, there is MURDER amongst the mounds of stored stuff.

Although for me I had a couple issues with Cited to Death, I did find it very readable and fun, and Jamie is a great character. Funny, self-effacing, and not-perfect--his skittish commitment-phobia being one of his faults. I was looking forward to checking out the sequel.

What I liked: One, the mystery was good. It wasn't easy to connect the dots, which I always appreciate.

Two: Jamie comes from the not-often-visited Mystery School for Not Stupid People, where you'll find its graduates do things like a) call the cops when something happens or b) tell people where you're going if you're meeting a shady person or c) bring back-up when you're meeting shady people. I find Perry's penchant for having her characters communicate about the crimes and the mystery very refreshing, and it really minimizes on TSTL moments. (Except for one of the side characters, who was pretty dumb, but had some emotional issues, so I can blame that.)

Three: Jamie and Peter are a very solid couple, even with Jamie's skittishness. I was actually missing some of the romance elements that were more prevalent in book 1 here, but in the second half, some new developments come in that add depth to their relationship. There are still things to work out, but I appreciate that both Jamie and Peter value what they have, so they're willing to communicate and work on things. (I wouldn't have minded *a little* more romance. I'm a bit greedy though. Heads-up for smut fans. Like in book 1, all sexy times are off-page.)

What was harder: One: I like Perry's simple, straight-forward style for Jamie's first person POV, but at times, I did find it a little too simple and like in book 1, it felt sometimes like Jamie was writing a diary as he described events. This is not from the book, but an example: "Then we went to the store, bought some hotdog buns, drove home, and made dinner. Then we went to bed." Sometimes this recitation of events made me wonder what was important or needed to be included.

Although the mystery was good, it's much quieter and low-key compared to Cited to Death. Not that I want poor Jamie to be put in peril all the time, but there was very little peril in this installment, so I think that slowed the pacing down a little, especially in the middle. I wouldn't have minded a few more instances of Danger to heighten the tension. (Some of this is minimized because Jamie isn't TSTL, but maybe a dash of external peril as opposed to Jamie-caused peril? Just to shake things up a little?)

Both this and Cited to Death are self-published, and overall I think they read very well for that, but I almost wish Perry would either go to a publisher or work with a strong content editor, because I think she's really close to having it great, especially for this being her second book, but I think having an extra something might help strengthen the structure, pacing, etc.

I did overall like it though, and I'm still on the Jamie train, so I'll definitely check out book 3 when it comes out. I like the characters--Jamie, Pete, Jamie's family, his colleagues, etc. I like the realism that infuses the narration and dialogue and situations. And even if I felt the pacing slow a bit, I wasn't bored.

If you enjoyed Cited to Death, I would recommend that you try this one out. This probably could be a stand-alone, but I don't recommend that since it doesn't have a lot of backstory included, and you will get more satisfaction and understanding about the characters if you read book 1.