Friday, November 2, 2012

Pressure Head by JL Merrow

Why I read it: I'm a JL Merrow fan and had this one pre-ordered.

What it's about:  (from Goodreads)  Some secrets are better left hidden.

To most of the world, Tom Paretski is just a plumber with a cheeky attitude and a dodgy hip, souvenir of a schoolboy accident. The local police keep his number on file for a different reason—his sixth sense for finding hidden things.

When he’s called in to help locate the body of a missing woman up on Nomansland Common, he unexpectedly encounters someone who resurrects a host of complicated emotions. Phil Morrison, Tom’s old school crush, now a private investigator working the same case. And the former bully partly responsible for Tom’s injury.

The shocks keep coming. Phil is now openly gay, and shows unmistakable signs of interest. Tom’s attraction to the big, blond investigator hasn’t changed—in fact, he’s even more desirable all grown up. But is Phil’s interest genuine, or does he only want to use Tom’s talent?

As the pile of complicated evidence surrounding the woman’s murder grows higher, so does the heat between Tom and Phil. But opening himself to this degree exposes Tom’s heart in a way he’s not sure he’s ready for…while the murderer’s trigger finger is getting increasingly twitchy.

Contains a flirtatious plumber with hidden talents, a cashmere-clad private investigator with hidden depths, and an English village chock full of colourful characters with plenty to hide.

What worked for me (and what didn't):  I love the humour in JL Merrow's books.  It is subtle and distinctly British and it suits me fine.  Told from Tom's first person POV, the story is part mystery, part comedy and part romance.   Tom has a self-deprecating style which I found endearing and just his way of describing things made me smile. 
 Once I got there, it was a lot easier to be quiet, as the carpet had the sort of pile you don’t so much walk on as hack your way through with a machete.
Phil is harder to know as we don't spend any time in his head and he is fairly quiet and intense.   The romance is fairly understated and slow to develop.  Normally I might find myself getting impatient about such a thing but in this book, the timing was right.  Tom had been horribly hurt - both emotionally and physically - directly and indirectly because of Phil and they both carry baggage because of it.  For them to fall into bed and/or a relationship quickly would have felt forced. It is clear there they have a connection almost from the start, but it takes time and some forgiveness and understanding before they can start to embark on a relationship.  As it is, by the end of the story, their relationship is really only beginning.

I enjoyed the secondary characters in the book too - many of them were sympathetic even though they might not have had much page time - and I liked the friendship Tom had developed with police detective Dave Southgate.    Merrow tends to have a bit of the quirky in her books (which I love) and it is found here especially in Tom's campanologist friend Gary and his new boyfriend Julian who is a dwarf ex-porn star with attitude.

What else? Before I read this one, I saw someone talking about it on Twitter to the effect that she hoped it would be a series.  I had that thought in my head when I started reading it and to be honest, I think that affected my grade.  If this is the first book in the series, then my grade stands because I think it is a great start.  But, if it is a standalone book, then the grade would be a B because, to be honest, I did think there was an element of it being incomplete.  Which makes perfect sense if the characters are to return in future books but which would bug me if they are not.  I enjoyed the time spent in setting up the secondary characters and fleshing out Tom's life but I'm hoping this means we will see them again.  Call it wishful thinking, but I'm going with the "it's the first in a series" grade.

Grade: B+


Chris said...

I agree - if it's the first in a series, I like it better than if it's supposed to be a standalone.

Kaetrin said...

I'm glad that made sense to you Chris - it did to me but I wondered... :)