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Heat Trap (Plumber's Mate #3)

Heat Trap - J.L. Merrow

Straight up, this is one of my most awaited books of 2015.

Why? Because I love- LOVE- Tom Paretski and how he charms, stumbles, and psychically senses his way through life, love, and a few murder mysteries here or there.

Heat Trap is book 3 in Merrow’s The Plumber’s Mate series, which starts with #1 Pressure Head and follows with #2 Relief Valve. In those volumes, you meet Tom, a plucky (and in my mind, adorable) plumber who has a bum hip (from an incident in his teens) and a special ability to find things, which works great when he’s searching for leaks in a pipe, but also means he can find hidden items or…bodies. Along with Tom, Merrow introduces you to a gaggle of quirky characters as well as to Phil, Tom’s former high school bully who is now a private investigator, and after a few trials and missteps, is also now investigating Tom’s privates (ahem) as The Boyfriend (one who is often exhausted by how Tom tumbles into trouble.)

I LOOOOVED the first two books, and I LOOOOOOVE Tom. I love his narrative voice—quick and charming (and a little over-talkative, but I still love him.) Loved the side characters. Loved the push-pull-push away-grasp back of his and Phil’s careful courtship, both of them a little scared and wary of being hurt or falling too hard, but both unwilling to let go.

So how did book 3 hold up?

I loved it. I went in with high expectations, but also a sincere feeling of joy and excitement because I was so happy to dive back into Tom’s head. And I’m happy to say that feeling was maintained throughout as I devoured this volume. (Far too quick, even though it’s gloriously longer at 250+ pages.)

What I liked: This volume’s mystery was good. Loved the further progression of both Tom and Phil’s relationship as well as the mystery that unspooled at the end of book 2. As always, Merrow includes wonderful and realized side characters who really feel like an extended family for Tom, and for this reader, were great to return to.

Like the previous volumes, the sexy times are mostly low-key or fade to black, with a few intimate scenes. I don’t mind that this series isn’t “high heat” because the characters and their progression are so much fun to read.

What was harder: I wasn’t 100% satisfied with how the mystery wrapped or was explained, but overall, I was so won over by the Tide of Tom and his Phil and his friends, that I didn’t really care too much to dwell on details.

Who’s going to like this? If you enjoyed book 1 and 2, then my strong recommendation is to try book 3 because it’s more of that goodness. It’s very much a fun ride, and I loved following along on it.

Did you not like book 1 and 2? Did you find Tom’s voice “too British”? Did you find him too talky? Or maybe you didn’t like Phil or the mysteries? If you didn’t enjoy the earlier volumes, I don’t see this one winning you over because it’s similar in style.

Can you jump in cold here? Maybe? I would strongly recommend not to though because things make way more sense if you start with book 1 Pressure Head. It’s a great book, especially if you like mysteries with a strong romance subplot.

This is definitely one of my favorite series—it’s understated but filled with charming characters and fun mysteries. The scene is set for a few more (I believe and hope) which makes me endlessly happy that we can return to this village in Britain and ride along with Tom and Phil to find out where they go next.

My dream would be to watch this series on TV, because it would be RAD British television, but my second dream would be for Samhain to make an audio version. Because LISTENING to Tom would be super awesome.