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Relief Valve (2014)

Relief Valve (2014)

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3.79 of 5 Votes: 5
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1619220598 (ISBN13: 9781619220591)
Samhain Publishing

About book Relief Valve (2014)

3,5 stars, because the detective part of the plot is a bit jumbled. I can’t help but compare this story to Josh Lanyon’ Holmes and Moriarity series, because the general plot is similar to that one – one sleuth detective plus one former cop, both involved into some investigation. But I like Tom and Phil so much more! Somehow, despite Tom’ occasional naivety he seems much more mature and less consumed by his internal turmoil. It’s like he already figured out some important things about life, and this understanding boils down to his easy attitude. It’s like ‘crap already happened, now can we just live and try to enjoy it?’ Well, he is not without fault, but in his case he has serious reasons for his touchy-ness and quirks. Phil… sometimes he seems like a jerk to me. But then he goes and does something truly nice for Tom, something that shows that he cares, without pretense and in his own stone-y way. ‘Show, not tell’ works well for them. Sometimes Tom’ naivety is annoying – I mean, there are situation when any sane adult should know better – but on the other hand, he is really observant (in his unique way) and not stupid – and that I like a lot. Relief Valve (Plumber’s Mate #2)Imagine, if you will, Miss Marple in her little village, puttering about, getting into people’s business as she learns about human nature. Except that Miss is a Mister. And a plumber. And gay. And hot. And psychic.I loved the first book in this series—Pressure Head. I recall, however, that it was rather darker than book 2—all that unhappy childhood memory, not to mention the sudden reappearance of Phil Morrison in Tom Paretski’s painstakingly repaired young life. Some of it was harrowing.Relief Valve is more light-hearted, as well as more nuanced in the way Merrow metes out shivery little clues about personalities and relationships. And, let me make this clear: this book is all about relationships—the very core of every part of this book is relationships. Not just between Tom and Phil, but between and among the intriguing buffet of small-town characters with which the author presents us. Tom and Phil are doing their own manly-man dance of love, and it is both frustrating and adorable to watch. Then there’s Tom’s big sister, Cherry, an up-and-coming suburban lawyer who takes a dim view of both her little brother’s down-scale career and his former-hoodlum boyfriend from the wrong side of town. Watching Cherry and Tom and Phil do their own do-si-do as they all begin to understand each other is quite beautiful to behold. And of course there’s the eerily Reverend Gregory Titmus, the poetic, dark-eyed Raz Nair, and all of the other denizens of the various little picturesque townships joined by motorways that Miss Marple never dreamed of in her wanderings about St. Mary Mead. This is the modern world, with archetypal England alive and well at its center. For an American reader, it is a delight, as is Merrow’s precisely crafted language and gift of wit. Because the book is damn funny. Tom is irritating in his defensiveness and his macho fear of emotions. His blue-collar slang is pointedly in contrast with his sister’s professional lingo; while Phil slides back and forth in accent and vocabulary, a council-estate yob in a cashmere sweater. Delicious.Class and geography matter in ways to the British that continue to baffle and fascinate Americans, and I confess to being charmed in exactly the way I was by the dozens of Agatha Christie novels I’ve read in my lifetime. It is astonishing how much happens in a small geographic area in a short amount of time. Merrow keeps her characters and her voices spinning about us, while never taking the sharper focus off of the couple at the center. With red herrings and misdirection she keeps us bemused until the very end, when she not only reveals the culprit, but leaves the reader realizing that all of the relationships in the book have shifted and have become something new and better than they were before. Well, most of them.Ultimately, there’s plenty left over for book three. I wonder what plumbing metaphor she’ll come up with for that? Can’t wait to find out.

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I have so much love for this book. Read it and you'll find out why.

Even better than the first.

Great sequel!

4 stars.

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