Title: Pressure Head (The Plumber’s Mate #1)
Author: JL Merrow
Published: 18th September 2012
Genre: M/M (murder-mystery)
Rating: 5 Stars
To most of the world, Tom Paretski is just a plumber with a cheeky attitude and a dodgy hip, souvenir of a schoolboy accident. The local police keep his number on file for a different reason—his sixth sense for finding hidden things.
When he’s called in to help locate the body of a missing woman up on Nomansland Common, he unexpectedly encounters someone who resurrects a host of complicated emotions. Phil Morrison, Tom’s old school crush, now a private investigator working the same case. And the former bully partly responsible for Tom’s injury.
The shocks keep coming. Phil is now openly gay, and shows unmistakable signs of interest. Tom’s attraction to the big, blond investigator hasn’t changed—in fact, he’s even more desirable all grown up. But is Phil’s interest genuine, or does he only want to use Tom’s talent?
As the pile of complicated evidence surrounding the woman’s murder grows higher, so does the heat between Tom and Phil. But opening himself to this degree exposes Tom’s heart in a way he’s not sure he’s ready for…while the murderer’s trigger finger is getting increasingly twitchy.
Warning: Contains a flirtatious plumber with hidden talents, a cashmere-clad private investigator with hidden depths, and an English village chock full of colourful characters with plenty to hide.
I was riveted to the page from the word go with this book. It caught my interest from page one and just didn’t let go until the very last. A great crime story with an M/M romance to round things off.
Tom Paretski lives in St. Albans and is a plumber. OK, quite an important job especially when your pipes are blocked. However, he has a talent for finding things. He doesn’t know exactly where this talent comes from, but he has the ability to be able to sense things that are lost, especially things that have a strong emotional element, are out of place and want to be kept secret and locate them by following his psychic instincts. But that’s what I loved about Tom, although he has these psychic instincts he is just an everyday guy and plumber.
However, because of his talent for finding things he is often called upon by the police and the story begins where he called out to find a missing person. Well, the missing person, Melanie, ends up being found murdered and then the sleuthing starts. Dave is in the police and is quite ambivalent towards Tom due to his sexuality. He isn’t bigoted, but I guess just doesn’t know how to handle Tom or know what to say, belonging to the “old school” so to speak. In actual fact I quite liked Dave, he may come across as being rough around the edges, but I reckon there is a big heart in there, just jaded and disillusioned in people. I guess this comes from being in the police all those years and seeing the worst side of humanity everyday.
While Tom and the police are searching for the body a old school friend turns up, Phil. Although the term friend is used loosely here as when they were kids Phil would bully tom for being gay at school and when Tom was running away from Phil and his gang one day got run over by a car he didn’t see coming which left him with a severely broken hip and lots of surgery to go through. The hip is now healed but still pains him. The paradox is though Phil is you’re typical alpha male, the stuff wet dreams are made of, and despite the bullying in school Tom still found him physically attractive. Now he is an adult his looks have only improved with age. Then Dave drops the bombshell on Tom and informs him that Phil is gay! So now the scene is set for a super slow burn romance going from enemies to friends. I loved this relationship, tom is snarky, but found him oh so funny and Phil obviously still guards his emotions very closely. Phil was in the police but left and became a PI who has now been hired by the dead girls parents to find the murderer.
At first Tom and Phil do not like each other at all, although I found Tom’s reaction a lot more full of venom for the past than Phil’s. Well, who could blame him after all Phil was the indirect cause of Tom’s accident. Phil tries to explain that kids do stupid things and people can change when the become adults, but Tom is having none of it.
The boyfriend seems to be framed for the murder, but neither Phil nor Tom somehow believes this. Phil calls upon Tom’s ability to find things whilst visiting probable suspects. Now as you know I can’t go into too much detail with such a story otherwise I would be giving too much away. However, Phil calls upon Tom more and more to accompany him and they start to build a working partnership. Tom still has to keep his daily business running, but finds himself sacrificing more time in trying to find Melanie’s murder. Their investigations lead them to the local church community where they open up a whole can of worms. I liked this touch in the story too, all these people going to church pretending to be more righteous than thou, but underneath all have their dirty secrets that are less than Christian. I especially felt sorry for the local Vicar Meredith, here was a man in a real emotional state and quandary on the inside and even tries to confide in Tom at one stage.
So, I think the question here is not what I liked about the book, but more what I didn’t like about the book? Well, to be honest absolutely nothing. I devoured this book from beginning to end. The plot was well paced and had me guessing all the way. Lots of red herrings and letting you know the connections bit by bit. As for the relationship between Tom and Phil, well I LOVED it!!! These two at first meet each other from opposite corners and then through circumstances find themselves understanding each other gradually and becoming closer. This development in the character plot I found WONDERFUL, going from enemies to friends, learning forgiveness and ending with a great love scene. This for me is the classic film plot where the romance is developed through the crime story, but never takes the upper-hand over the real story which is the murder, the suspects and finding the murderer. This isn’t a book that has rampant sex in every chapter, but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest like romances that have intelligent plots and this is definitely in that category.
Also I’m obviously bias, but I loved the “Britishness” in this book. The dialogues were wonderful to read, full of snarky, sarcastic British humour. But even underneath all this snark there is lot of affection going on. I loved the way the good old traditions were to be found, there so much tea drinking going on at every meet, I felt the urge to go to the loo at regular intervals – lol! But woe betide the host who doesn’t offer a cup of tea, that is an immediate snub and ostracism.
All in all if you haven’t read this book then you have seriously missed out on a treat. Jamie’s second book in the series, Relief Valve, will be released on 25th March. So get reading this one and set yourself up for Relief Valve.
About The Author
JL Merrow is a very English writer of (mainly) m/m fiction who finds writing the only way to stay sane, except of course when a plot is driving her crazy. Having grown up on an island, she can’t remember a time before she could swim and prefers to remain close to water at all times. Luckily, the weather in her native land being as it generally is, this is not difficult.
I’m that rare beast; an English person who refuses to drink tea. I’m a writer of (mainly) m/m or f/f romance, mostly contemporary or paranormal, but with a fickle muse that occasionally ambushes me in dark alleyways and drags me off, cackling, to write historical or science fiction.
Some might call all this pillar-to-posting tragic evidence of a short attention span; I couldn’t possibly….er, what were we talking about, again?
I enjoy reading, martial arts, and surprising people who judge a book by its cover.
Contact The Author
Relief Valve (The Plumber’s Mate #2)
will be released on 25th March!
JL Merrow will be with us on Sinfully Sexy on her release day with a guest post, my review and central giveaway. If you liked Pressure Head then be sure to put this date on your calendar and don’t miss it.
Pre-Order Purchase Links
JL Merrow will be giving away one ebook copy of Pressure Head to one lucky winner.
Enter the draw below and good luck!