Peril on the Page by Margaret Loudon is the third book in the author’s cosy mystery series, Open-Book Mysteries. Writer-in-residence, Penelope, is co-hosting a marketing event at the Open-Book, along with the owner, to celebrate a local resident’s book release. However, when the author drops dead at the event, Penelope becomes determined to discover the secrets of the author’s life and how it may have gotten her nixed.
The first two books were absolute treats, so when the third one dropped, I was eager to jump right into it. One of the elements that continue to be endearing are the ladies and the camaraderie and sense of community that they keep developing. It’s heart-warming to read, and it also makes the reader a bit nervous because the closer they all become, the more frightened I get for who’s going to die in the next one. I also enjoyed the recurring presence of Pen’s sister. It was neat to see that her appearance from book two wasn’t merely one-shot. Lastly, I liked the mystery of the author’s death because it definitely keeps the reader guessing, and I love a challenge when trying to finagle out the solution.
An aspect that I was indifferent to was the lacking presence of Mrs Danvers on the pages. Miss floofy kitty pretty deserves to have a story where she shines brightly. I loved her part in the debut novel, but it seems she’s just an afterthought in these other books, which as a crazy cat hooman, makes me sad.
In terms of shortcomings, my biggest issue with Peril on the Page were all of the scandals going around. I don’t mind scandal in my cosy mystery, especially if it involves a quaint little town with royal blood living around the corner, that screams for scandal. However, when there’s a new scandal popping off the page in every chapter, it can be overwhelming and it made it hard for me to stay invested in the author’s murder. Plus, it just became tedious to keep track of as the story went on. In that sense, I’d say Peril on the Page is my least favourite of the three books thus far.
A close second problem that I’m having is the chemistry between Pen and her love interest. Man, they have absolutely no chemistry whatsoever. It’s so boring to read their interactions. There is no heat or energy in it at all. I understand this isn’t a romance book, but there still should be some sort of passion or wanting between two individuals that are dating. It’s almost like they are cousins or even brother and sister who occasionally grab a bite to eat after work. My opinion is that they got together much too soon so there was no tension to help build that chemistry that really makes or breaks the main couple in narratives such as these. At the first sign of interest, BAM! They were an item. There hasn’t been any room to truly grow and evolve feelings or a sense of passion in the least.
Overall, Peril on the Page was a blasé and mediocre addition to what was originally a fun and decadently charming cosy mystery series. I know that not every book can be a hit, but I’m going to hope that the next one for sure will be! It just needs more fleshing out and more character-centric growth, and more kitty! Tossing in a bunch of scandals into the blender to create intrigue doesn’t always work and it definitely didn’t help the story here, particularly when coupled with an unexceptional romance. INDIFFERENT all around.
Publication Date: March 2022
Genre: Cosy Mystery
Series: Open-Book Mysteries
Page Count: 320 pages
Content Warnings: Prep and consumption of food. Alcohol drinking. Infidelity. Some blood. Underage drinking.
Availability: In-print; Paperback, audiobook, and eBook formats available.