Series: The Plumber's Mate

RELIEF VALVE by J. L. Merrow

RELIEF VALVE by J. L. MerrowRelief Valve by J.L. Merrow
Series: The Plumber's Mate #2
Genres: MM, Mystery & Detective
Reviewed by:Publisher
Published by Samhain Publishing

Reviewed by Cassie

Things are back to almost normal for plumber Tom Paretski. He goes out on jobs and spends his free time with his boyfriend, private investigator Phil Morrison. Unfortunately, things don’t stay normal for long. First, Tom learns that an old family friend has died, leaving him some sort of mysterious bequest. Then someone tries to poison his older sister Cherry, a newly engaged lawyer. It’s up to Tom and Phil to find out who poisoned Cherry. And there’s still the bequest to sort out…


Relief Valve is another fun and wild tale of Tom and Phil. Tom is the rare first-person narrator that doesn’t annoy me. He’s self-deprecating and sarcastic, but with a good heart that shines through no matter how he tries to hide it. His relationship with Phil has matured. They’re still hot for each other, yet they are beginning to understand each other’s quirks better and learn to live with each other. Of course, Tom’s tendency to jump in headfirst before thinking or involving the police or Phil still drives Phil crazy.


The mystery in Relief Valve is sufficiently twisty and madcap that it not only held my attention, but kept me guessing. The different threads of the story, so seemingly disconnected, come together in a very interesting way, yet the story didn’t come across as contrived. I also enjoyed the secondary characters. Some of the characters from the first book return here, but there are also many new ones. JL Merrow has a knack for writing characters that are quirky but not unrealistically so. Overall, Relief Valve is enjoyable as a mystery, and there’s enough development in Tom and Phil’s relationship to add a liberal dash of romantic spice to the mix as well.

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