Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M mystery romance from JL Merrow. RELIEF VALVE is the second book in the Plumber’s Mate series and a fave of mine. I adored book 1, PRESSURE HEAD, and book 4, BLOW DOWN, which I read out of order. For those who haven’t picked up these books, they feature a is a plumber with a knack for finding water and lost/hidden items–including dead or missing people. It’s set in England, and has some absolutely awesome vernacular. The book came out several years back, but is being re-released by a new publisher.
About the book:
If you dig up the past, be prepared for some dirt to stick.
The relationship between Tom Paretski, a cheeky plumber with a gift for finding hidden things, and PI Phil Morrison may only be a few weeks old, but already it’s under attack. Tom’s friends and family are convinced the former bully isn’t good enough for him, and they’re not shy about saying so.
Then Tom’s prickly older sister, Cherry, is poisoned at her own engagement party. Tom’s left reeling and not knowing who to suspect. Could it be her new fiancé, Gregory, a cathedral canon with an unfortunate manner and a taste for taxidermy? Or someone from her old writers’ circle, which she left after a row? Or could the attack be connected to her work as a barrister? Meanwhile, Tom’s honorary auntie’s left him a gag gift from beyond the grave that could be more significant than anyone knows.
Phil’s fighting against the clock to solve the case before somebody ends up dead. And with the poisoner hiding a dark secret, Phil’s terrified Tom could have been the target all along.
Tom Paretsky–maybe he’s not Polish–is a plumber with a unique knack for finding what’s hidden, including dead bodies. He’s got a trick hip after spending nearly a year in traction when a lorry hit him back in secondary school. The fact that he ran into the street to avoid schoolmate Phil Morrison and his gang of bullies isn’t a fact Tom’s family isn’t loathe to forget. Not even when Tom and Phil have now become an item…of sorts.
That said, Tom’s determine to change his family’s minds, and insists on bringing Phil to his sister Cherry’s engagement party. When Cherry is poisoned there, well, it’s good that Phil was available to help out on the case. This mystery/romance is charming and harrowing by turns. Tom wants to help figure out who might behind the attack, and Phil makes it his first priority; Phil isn’t sure that Cherry was the target. Tom having inherited some undisclosed property seems to make him worth bumping off, is Phil’s thought. I have a special fondness for amateur sleuth stories, and I love Tom. He’s such a fun narrator, and he’s always getting himself into a scrape. His reaction to Cherry’s fiance–whoo boy! Greg is a big man, gregarious and creepily friendly–as well as a canon for Church of England. Tom’s quietly horrified about Greg’s taxidermy hobby, and not sure if Greg is entirely straight–which leads to some inappropriately hilarious situations while Cherry recovers. And Phil’s not amused. Though he does take a friendly shine to Tom’s bestie Gary’s diminutive fiance–a former adult film star turned veg-trader in the nearby market.
While they figure out where their relationship is going, Phil and Tom work on both Cherry’s case, and on finding the “hidden” inheritance from Tom’s surrogate aunt. This last part threatens to tear apart Tom’s family even more so than Tom’s choice of boyfriend, or Cherry’s poisoning. The pace is as brisk as Tom’s rambling chatter. If you dig Brit blokes going on doing ordinary/extraordinary amateur sleuthing, well, this might be a book for you. I’ve devoured them all at this point…and would read another dozen more.
About the Author:
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.
She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards Finalists.
JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers’ Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!