Book Reviews

Relief Valve (The Plumber's Mate Mysteries 2) by JL Merrow at Riptide Publishing

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Blue-Collar Workers / Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 05-February-2018

Book Blurb

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.




First Edition published by Samhain Publishing, 2014.


Book Review

I truly couldn't wait to jump back into Tom and Phil's world. 'Relief Valve' is book two in JL Merrow's series 'The Plumber's Mate Mysteries', and I’ve been hooked from day one. Tom is absolutely everything I could hope for in a main character. He's funny, sarcastic, can be a little snarky, and somehow ends up in trouble, a lot. Phil, I didn't have as much of a connection with, and I was really hoping for that to change in this installment. If I'd been thinking that Tom and Phil's relationship would've been perfect now, well, I'd be wrong. Dead wrong, as a matter of fact. They're just like any other couple who's got a few months of dating under their belts. There are still miscommunications, arguments, hot sex, and you still get the fluttery feeling in your chest just sharing the simple things with each other.

This novel begins with Tom's older sister, Cherry, contacting him regarding an old family friend, Auntie Lol, who recently passed away. Apparently she left instructions for Tom to go to her previous residence and "find" something she hid for him. It's a codicil to her will and it might or might not be information regarding an inheritance for Tom. Before that can be arranged, and after the shock Tom gets in finding his very career-oriented sister has a boyfriend, Cherry invites him and Phil for drinks at Gregory's place. Gregory is a canon in the Church of England and has, to him, a very fascinating hobby in taxidermy. Personally, I agree with Tom that keeping dead animals in your house and jokingly referring to them as "family" is a little squicky. Regardless, Gregory hires Phil, unbeknownst to Cherry, to look into some threats he's received. Apparently Gregory hasn't had a problem standing up for gay rights and women in the clergy, and not everyone finds those opinions acceptable. But something's a little off about Gregory and this whole business.

At Cherry and Gregory's engagement party, Cherry collapses after being poisoned. This, of course, puts Phil and Tom on the job to see what people are hiding. Maybe it's Cherry's new fiancé, or someone from the literary group which Cherry recently stopped attending? Phil is running a lot of possible ideas and scenarios around in his head. That's what Phil does, you see. One of them involves Tom having been the intended target and perhaps has something to do with this will he's supposed to be locating. As they continue to investigate and find more suspects, I can't help but be reminded of the board game, Clue, as I was waiting to find out if it was Colonel Mustard in the library. Or, better yet, Mrs. Peacock in the conservatory.

An excellent sequel to the first book in the series, and I adored it. I got more time inside Tom's head, which is always fun, and I got a little better feel for Phil, although he's always going to be a little more difficult because I don't get his point of view. I had such fun with this book, especially the end, although it holds some challenges which I hope Tom will get a chance to face in another book. This is a wonderful series that I can easily, and wholeheartedly, recommend.





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Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 341 pages/91100 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 05-February-2018
Price $3.99 ebook, $17.99 paperback, $21.98 bundle
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