ARC-Review: Relief Valve (Plumber’s Mate #2) by J.L. Merrow


Mysteries are a favorite genre of mine, but only if they are written well. The suspense has to be done just right and the plot not too obvious. It’s alright if I figure out who’s dunnit before the main character(s) as long as it is written in such a way that the character is fully involved in solving it and as a reader you are invested in him/her solving it. If that makes any sense. I digress. Such a series is the Plumber’s Mate for me.

Author J.L. Merrow has been a guest at Bookwinked more than once, but never have I reviewed my favorite series by her, so now I’m jumping at the chance.

Relief Valve is the second book in the series and it’s even better than the first one. Tom Paretski is one of my favorite sleuths alongside Adrien English and Skyler Foxe. He has the right type of British humor and is an all around good guy. How many sleuths do you know who are plumbers who have a knack for finding things? Okay, you can tell that maybe I’m not the most impartial reviewer when it comes to this series.

In Relief Valve things get personal for Tom when his sister is poisoned and a mystery develops from there on with Tom in the middle. Relief Valve is a very character driven story. The focus of the plot is not so much on the mystery element, but rather on the characters surrounding it.

Tom is estranged from his sister when she contacts him about an inheritance. Throughout Relief Valve you see the struggle between them. They are typical brother and sister and they fight like that too, in a British manner of course. Then there is Tom’s budding relationship with Phil. Oh boy, they don’t have it easy. I liked that it was perfect straight off after the first book, but it’s rather a slow burn and they grown more into the relationship throughout the book.

The strength of Relief Valve is also in the writing. The author creates this wonderful vivid world about Tom and Phil. It’s actually a very normal world, one you could just walk into to. I liked that. The British slang and mannerisms are typical for this author and fit the story perfectly.

The story is told first person from Tom’s pov. Although I normally love first person stories, I did want to get into Phil’s head a few times to see what he was thinking. We only see Tom’s side of things and there were times when I really wanted to know what Phil was thinking, charming as Tom is.

Relief Valve was a wonderful continuation of the series and I liked that there was also a set up for the rest of the series. There is a red thread that runs through all the books and I can never wait for the next book in the series. I heard through the grapevine that there will be a new book in May of this year.

Okay, this may not have been the most objective review I’ve written (can you tell that I like this series?), but I hope I’ve given some insight into why Relief Valve by J.L. Merrow is good and why you should read the Plumber’s Mate series right now! So yes, I recommend this book!

  •  Note: this book series was previously published by Samhain Publishing, but was light edited and the second edition is published by Riptide Publishing.
Relief Valve Book Cover Relief Valve
Plumber's Mate
J.L. Merrow
Mystery, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT
Riptide Publishing
February 5, 2018
A copy was aquired through Netgalley

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.

Publisher's note: This is lightly edited reprint of a previously published novel.

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