Relief Valve: The Plumber’s Mate Book 2 by J.L.Merrow ~ Review by Beverley

I really enjoy J.L.Merrow books, they are an auto-read for me and even though the title sounded like a masturbatory handbook or perhaps because ;-), I couldn’t wait to read this.
Especially as I had loved Pressure Head.ReliefValve72sm

Title: Relief Valve
Author: J.L.Merrow
Publisher: Samhain Publishing Ltd.
My Rating 5 of 5*


If you dig up the past, be prepared to get dirty.

The Plumber’s Mate, Book 2

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing since plumber Tom Paretski and P.I. Phil Morrison became connected at the heart, if not always at Tom’s dodgy hip. Neither of their families has been shy about voicing their disapproval, which hasn’t helped Tom’s uneasy relationship with his prickly older sister, Cherry.

But when Cherry is poisoned at her own engagement party, the horror of her near death has Tom’s head spinning with possible culprits. Is it her fiancé Gregory, a cathedral canon with an unfortunate manner and an alarming taste for taxidermy? Someone from her old writers’ circle, which she left after a row? Or could the attack be connected to her work as a barrister?

Phil is just as desperate to solve the case before someone ends up dead—and he fears it could be Tom. At least one of their suspects has a dark secret to hide, which makes Tom’s sixth sense for finding things like a target painted on his back…

Warning: Contains a strong, silent, macho PI; a cheeky, chirpy, cat-owning plumber; and a gag gift from beyond the grave that’ll put the cat firmly among the pigeons.

My View

Tom Paretski and Phil Morrison became lovers during their first plumber, P.I. mystery, ‘Pressure Head’. Like that novel, this is a very character driven story and what characters they are! J.L. Merrow writes about wonderful people, creating personalities full of English eccentricity and humour. I loved his sister’s Reverend boyfriend ‘Gregory’. On first meeting, he straightfaced offers ‘Cherry, Sherry?’, and the men ‘Whiskey?’ or something stronger assuring it,

will put hair on your chests

this provokes a snarky remark from Tom

Stronger than Whiskey? What was he peddling here – neat ethanol?

as well as serving Slivovitz, Gregory has a farm of animals he had stuffed, personally, much to Tom and Phil’s disbelief and my amusement. He also genuinely ‘guffaws’. J.L.Merrow’s books are full of England but the author often mixes expected stereotypes with reality to create suspects and red herrings that Agatha Christie would have been proud of. This story involves a missing codecil to Tom’s Aunt’s will, which her will insists he must look for, using his psychic ‘thing’ for finding that which is lost or hidden. Plus, a poisoner is loose at Cherry and Gregory’s party but who is the intended victim? There is a wonderful sense of self parody about this novel, as the suspects seem to be connected to a writer’s group ‘The Literati’.

Money for old rope. that writing lark.
Yeah. They’ve got to be a bit weird and all. Writer’s I mean. Who spends all day sitting in a room on their tod making up stories? It’s not like living in the real world.

Of course as the next lines reveals,

Which would be the one where I waltzed around pretending to be someone I wasn’t so my boyfriend could find out who tried to kill my sister.

this is also irony. There are also further jokes about self publishing and holding out for the five figure advances! Merrow has managed to write a novel that contains wonderful humour, interesting and humorous characters and a pretty good murder mystery. I find mysteries the hardest novels to review because I enjoy reading the story without any foreknowledge of the plot and certainly no ‘spoilers’. Therefore I try to let readers know what the novel is like without revealing too many details…difficult.

This novel is beautifully written, without the typos and grammatical errors that often plague ebooks. Tom and Phil’s personalities and narrative voices come through clearly and the secondary characters are equally three dimensional. The mystery contains, murder, red herrings, false leads and twists aplenty. St Albans, its suburbs and local pubs are all described accurately and often amusingly. There is an underlying thread carefully woven throughout the plot and that is the progress of Tom’s and Phil’s relationship. So realistically awkward as they slowly progress to exchanging keys to each other’s homes, and the ‘L’ word. An excellent and satisfying read.

Buy Links

Samhain Publishing Ltd.

I would like to thank Samhain Publishing for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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8 thoughts on “Relief Valve: The Plumber’s Mate Book 2 by J.L.Merrow ~ Review by Beverley

  1. This sounds great! I normally do like mystery’s. Question, do you need to read bk one first?

    • Since this is a continuation of the initial coupling, I would recommend reading Pressure Head first. (Well, I would recommend Pressure Head anyway, but definitely if you want to read Relief Valve)

    • Actually Brandi, I had read Pressure Head, but this could be read as a stand alone but you’d miss some of the references. Additionally, Pressure head is great 😀

  2. I love Merrow’s writing, and not just because it’s so British, but because she’s so funny, in a clipped, Brit way. This book promises that the Tom and Phil series is going to get richer and deeper with each chapter. My favorite non-American term: “Posh tosser.”

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