Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 255 Pages
At a Glance: I think fans will be pleased with this one, despite a few glitches here and there.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: It’s been six months since plumber Tom Paretski was hit with a shocking revelation about his family. His lover, P.I. Phil Morrison, is pushing this as an ideal opportunity for Tom to try to develop his psychic talent for finding things. Tom would prefer to avoid the subject altogether, but just as he decides to bite the bullet, worse problems come crawling out of the woodwork.
Marianne, a young barmaid at the Devil’s Dyke pub, has an ex who won’t accept things are over between them. Grant Carey is ruthless in dealing with anyone who gets between him and Marianne, including an old friend of Tom and Phil. Their eagerness to step in and help only makes them targets of Grant’s wrath themselves.
With Tom’s uncertainty about Phil’s motives, Tom’s family doing their best to drive a wedge between them, and the revelation of an ugly incident in Phil’s past, suddenly Tom’s not sure whom he can trust.
The body in the Dyke’s cellar isn’t the only thing that stinks.
Review: Fans of JL Merrow’s Plumber’s Mate series will be both gnashing their teeth at this installment and deliriously happy at the outcome simultaneously. Many loose ends are tied up in this third novel, and a few secrets that threaten to tear Phil and Tom apart are uncovered as well. It’s a challenge to create a synopsis for this one due to the fact that there are so many relationship-changing events taking place. Suffice it to say that while trying to dig up dirt on an unsavory boyfriend from the barmaid’s Marianne’s past, a devastating secret comes to light that is almost the undoing of Tom’s fragile trust in Phil.
All the old regulars are present in this one. Gary and Darren are married and continue to provide some real comic relief throughout the story. The news about Tom’s real father is finally discussed between Tom and his Mum, after an awkward attempt by Greg to force the family to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Mayhem and physical injury are once more part and parcel of the latest mystery, and Tom lands in the hospital once again. All in all, some pieces of the book were formulaic but so comfortable—so witty and sweet and just darn fun.
However, I felt there were some threads introduced that never really went anywhere—Phil’s desire to see Tom develop his abilities, for instance. It was the source of an argument between them, and then left fallow till almost the end of the novel when a strange, brief incident scared Tom and lay to rest any further exploration of his gift. All in all, it was underdeveloped and too easily tied up.
Also, there were a few new side characters introduced who had some devastating interaction with the bad guy, Grant Carey. I really didn’t understand why they were a part of the story since there was never any resolution to their problems. I understood that the couple’s stress and obvious marital discord would feed into a bigger issue between Tom and Phil, but again, I’m not sure those scenes did much to further the plot line.
Heat Trap is definitely not a standalone story. Reading the first two books is important to understand the dynamics between this motley crew, and their easy repartee. I think fans will be pleased with this one, despite a few glitches here and there. Tom and Phil come full circle in this novel and those who have been waiting for the two men to finally commit to some sort of future will not be disappointed.
You can buy Heat Trap here: