Author: JL Merrow
Release date: July 12, 2016
Length: 249 pages
Series: The Plumber's Mate Mysteries
Death is what happens when you're making other plans.
The last thing newly engaged plumber Tom Paretski needs is to stumble over another dead body. He's got enough on his mind already as the reality of his impending marriage sinks in. Not only is his family situation complicated, his heroism at a pub fire made him a local celebrity. Now everyone and their uncle wants a piece of his psychic talents. Hired to find a missing necklace, Tom and his fiance, private investigator Phil Morrison, wind up trying to unmask a killer - and there's no shortage of suspects, up to and including the local bishop himself. As Tom and Phil try to uncover the truth, they find themselves pulled in all different directions by the conflicting pressures of their families and their own desires. But the murderer they're up against is a ruthless schemer who won't hesitate to kill again. If Tom and Phil aren't careful, their love - and all their plans for the future - could be blown down like a house of straw.
Warning: Contains a bishop of questionable Christian charity, a necklace of questionable taste, and a plumber of questionable nationality who may be running out of time.
I’d completely forgotten how much I love reading mysteries. Well, good mysteries that is. English village style mysteries. Mysteries inhabited by CHARACTERS. And ‘Blow Down’ was the perfect book to remind me. I had a ball reading this story.
I have to make a confession first; I didn’t actually read the first three books in this series. Yes, I’m asking myself ‘why the hell not?’ too, but that doesn’t change the fact that I read this book without any knowledge as to what had happened previously. And it didn’t matter. Of course I can’t judge whether or not I would have enjoyed this book (even) more if I had read the three preceding titles, but I do know that I never felt lost in this book. Not once did I wonder what something or somebody was referring to, or whether I was missing something. The book provides enough background information for the uninitiated to be fully emerged in the story, without ever dumping said information on the reader.
Tom and Phil are fabulous characters. I want to be their mate and wouldn’t mind going for a pint with them—even if I’m not much of a beer drinker. I loved them as individuals and I loved them together. They’re gruff; more inclined to slag each other off than to be lovey-dovey. And like typical men, they’re disinclined to talk, leading to huge statements being made in the form of abrupt outbursts. All of which, of course, only served to make those moments when they do allow the mask to slip and their feelings to shine through, all the more touching.
The mystery in this book was good. It is what I would consider to be a ‘typical’ English village mystery with a limited cast of all too likely suspects, most if not all of whom have something to hide—be it murder or something else. I’ve read many mysteries in my life and one of the reasons I started reading other genres is because I got too good at guessing the culprit. A mystery just isn’t as much fun when you know who ‘done’ it as soon as the character is introduced. I was delighted when the revelation of who the murderer was, surprised me and yet made perfect sense.
And then the humour... I can’t remember the last time I laughed as much or as loudly while reading a book. In fact, I laughed out loud so much my poor husband went from bemused to somewhat worried. But then I made him read the following passage and, well, he laughed:
“Rugby, now… Well, it’s just a bunch of big bastards getting up close and personal with each other, innit? Sort of like wrestling, only not faked, with intervals of some bloke built like an armoured car grabbing the ball and legging it, trying to make it to the other side of the pitch before fifteen other blokes, some of who’re built like Chieftain bloody tanks, throw themselves on top of him.”
Oh, and did I mention this is the most English of stories?
Long review short: I loved this book. An interesting and well plotted mystery, combined with great characters, a charming couple, and laugh out loud humour made what for me is pretty much a perfect read.
JL Merrow is that rare beast, and English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.
She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards Finalists.
JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers' Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team. Find JL Merrow online at www.jlmerrow.com, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jl.merrow