Lock Nut (Crabbypatty’s review)

Title: Lock Nut (The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries #5)
Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: May 14, 2018
Genre(s): Murder/Mystery
Page Count: 330
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5


Still waters run deadly.

Tom Paretski, plumber with a talent for finding hidden things, and his private investigator fiancé Phil Morrison have been hired to locate a runaway husband, Jonathan Parrot. The job seems simple enough—until their quarry turns up dead in a canal, and a photofit of Tom’s face is splashed all over the news, making him chief suspect.

The widow, petite ex–porn star Lilah Lovett, is convinced her husband was killed by his gay lover, but Tom and Phil aren’t so sure. Worried they may have precipitated Jonathan’s death, they’re determined to find the real killer. But with a web of incestuous ties linking the suspects, it’s hard to know who to trust. Especially when a second victim dies a gruesome death.

Meanwhile, with their wedding looming and them sharing a house now, Tom’s worried it may all be too much, too fast. The last thing he needs are the mixed messages Phil seems to be sending out. They’ll need to get back on the same track if they want to make it to their honeymoon together—and alive.

I love the Plumber’s Mate series in all its quirky English wonderfulness – the small town and all its inhabitants beautifully crafted by JL Merrow, the bloody wonder that is Tom Paretski, his relationship with former school bully / fiance Phil, Tom’s family and friends, Dave and his new sprog, and all those murders!

However, after initially finishing Lock Nut, I felt a sense of disappointment. Of all the books in this great series, the murder/mystery here left me uninspired and few of its personalities grabbed my attention. But I freely admit this issue is all mine. After pondering it, I realize the joy of this series, for me, is the interaction between its characters and as the series continues, the murders become less and less central. I miss Tom’s sister Cherry and the exceedingly loud Reverend Greg, the relative absence of Darren, Gary and Dave (beyond a few scenes), Tom’s parents and his newly discovered sire, etc. Also at 330 pages, at times the pace of the story feels glacial.

As always, I adore Tom’s POV and would pay good money to hear him discuss the phone book with Phil. I love the slow evolution of Tom and Phil’s relationship and the ending of Lock Nut with the long-anticipated wedding is all kinds of wonderful. But is it too much to long for another book in the series, and perhaps a murder or two during their honeymoon in Italy? My rating for Lock Nut is 4 stars – 3 stars for the murder and 5 for the rest.

The Plumber’s Mate Series

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Galley copy of Lock Nut provided by Riptide Publishing, via Netgalley, in exchange of an honest review.


Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend. My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh ... not in my wheelhouse, but I'm a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre. Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more. A few "badges" from NetGalley: 100 Book Reviews Reviews Published Professional Reader