This was another fun mystery from Lou Harper. This time, the story focuses on Jem (short for Jeremy) who is a recovering goth bad boy who used to run around and hustle in his teens, but turned over a new leaf after an accident forced him to rebuild his life. Now in his later 20’s, he’s working at a gourmet grocery store, where he runs into Nick, one very delish cop. Only to his horror, Nick recognizes him from his hustling days. Jem thinks that’s the end to any hot future with him, but things veer off plan as someone else starts sending him anonymous dirty photo reminders of his old life. And then another part of his past is murdered…
I’m fan of Harper’s writing, and this one is another good sample of her style, nicely straight forward but with some added snark (from Jem, who thinks his life is cursed.) Nick was a hot cup of yum as well, although less developed of a character than Jem. They had nice chemistry though, and I liked how Nick tempered Jem’s more erratic, spontaneous behavior.
There’s a nice poke at the way some heroes choose to go the TSTL route in their mysteries, when Jem gets a suspicious invitation to a party by a former “client” of his. He internally ponders going, and imagines getting into trouble and having Nick swoop in to rescue him. But then, instead of following the Amateur Sleuth’s Guide to Getting into Peril, he quickly understands that going would be a Bad Idea, and passes on the invitation to someone else. I liked that bit of self-aware humor (and appreciated that he didn’t follow that path.)
At 38,000 words, it’s a novella, which usually I’m less a fan of since I love longer works, but this time, I felt Harper did a good job of fleshing out the characters and the mystery, so it felt “just right” for length.
If you’re already a fan of Harper’s mysteries, I think this will be a good read for you. If you’re trying her work for the first time, you could start here, although I probably would rec Spirit Sanguine or Dead in L.A. first. Those are two of my favorites.