Lock Nut
Grade : A-

Lock Nut is the fifth book in this wonderful series about plumber Tom Paretski and now fiancé, private investigator, Phil Morrison. Tom has a slightly quirky paranormal ability which enables him to find things, which often leads them into trouble. However, that is not overly utilised in this episode. What is in great supply in Lock Nut is J.L. Merrow’s wonderfully English sense of humour.

The story opens with Tom and Phil happily ensconced on their sofa watching the news when a photo-fit of Tom’s face comes up on screen, in relation to the murder of one Jonathan Parrot. Chapter one is only a couple of pages long and we go back in time a little for chapter two, which starts on the day of Tom’s sister’s wedding, a few weeks earlier. Cherry is finally marrying Greg, her Church of England Canon, and lover of Taxidermy. The wedding contains all the idiosyncratic behaviour and characters to be found at weddings the world over. J.L. Merrow’s narrative voice in this whole series is perfect middle England, though. I started to read page one and immediately recognised Tom and Phil even though it was about a year since I read the previous book in this series.

In addition to being hired by vertically challenged ex-porn star Lilah Lovett to investigate her husband’s death Tom and Phil fall foul of suspects, the police and those they are hired to help. It is rather like Miss Marple on steroids complete with porn stars, rent boys, gloomy teenagers, and colourful and adorable characters of all persuasions mixed up in a web of lies and intrigue. This author has a hilarious and brilliant way with characterisation. We meet up with Gary, Darren, Cherry and Tom’s confusing array of parents again, and discover new characters to delight. They all manage to be comedic with a poignant core. Her descriptions of places I know very well like Camden Lock are spot on…

…and walking up the high street to-wards Camden Lock. Did I say walking? I mean shuffling, side-stepping and excuse-me-ing. The place was heaving, mostly with tourists come to gawp at the shops, their storefronts decorated with massive…I wasn’t even sure what you’d call them. Pop-art sculptures? Three-dimensional advertising hoardings? There was a brightly coloured Ganesh, a Chinese dragon, a twenty-times-life-size Converse trainer…It was like they’d taken the concept of pub signs and run with it. Probably to a crack den.

Additionally, the author uses Tom’s narrative to immerse the reader in England’s current cultural phenomena and shibboleths… this quote relates directly to the very popular programmes that recycle or upcycle stuff they ‘save’ from local tips to make profit…

…Vintage, Retro and Reclaimed Lighting, which mostly seemed to consist of perfectly good, if battered, pieces of equipment like phones with actual dials, tripod cameras, and old electrical meters-which some git had then desecrated by shoving a light bulb in the top.

Add in references to Monty Python, misquoted Latin, and a porn production company called ‘Lickett & Lovett’, which resides in the village of Studley Bottom and I was in stitches for most of the story.

This mystery has twists and turns aplenty, and occurs as Tom and Phil prepare for their own upcoming nuptials, after Phil moved in with Tom at the end of Blow Down. There are some mix-ups and cold feet to overcome, but I cheered when I read ‘The Epilogue’.

I haven’t written a review for some time due to ill health, but even when I was feeling poorly this novel cheered me up, made me laugh and care about the characters. Lock Nut is rumoured to be the last in the series, if that is the case, I will really miss Tom and Phil, their families and friends, but the ending is perfect. If you want to read stories about real English people living in a realistic England with humour and mysteries aplenty I highly recommend this entire series.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo

Reviewed by BJ Jansen
Grade : A-

Sensuality: Subtle

Review Date : June 23, 2018

Publication Date: 05/2018

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BJ Jansen

I'm an English romantic, and an author who simply adores reading and writing books. I believe that all love has equal status, and all humans need and deserve romance. So, I am thrilled to be able to review LGBTQ+ novels for AAR and introduce more readers to some gorgeous LGBTQ+ romances and fascinating stories.
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