Monday, March 23, 2015

Heat Trap (#3 in the Plumber’s Mate mystery series) excerpt by JL Merrow

In Heat Trap, #3 in the Plumber’s Mate mystery series by JL Merrow, the wrong secret could flush their love down the drain
It’s been six months since plumber Tom Paretski was hit with a shocking revelation about his family. His lover, P.I. Phil Morrison, is pushing this as an ideal opportunity for Tom to try to develop his psychic talent for finding things. Tom would prefer to avoid the subject altogether, but just as he decides to bite the bullet, worse problems come crawling out of the woodwork.
Marianne, a young barmaid at the Devil’s Dyke pub, has an ex who won’t accept things are over between them. Grant Carey is ruthless in dealing with anyone who gets between him and Marianne, including an old friend of Tom and Phil. Their eagerness to step in and help only makes them targets of Grant’s wrath themselves.
With Tom’s uncertainty about Phil’s motives, Tom’s family doing their best to drive a wedge between them, and the revelation of an ugly incident in Phil’s past, suddenly Tom’s not sure whom he can trust.
The body in the Dyke’s cellar isn’t the only thing that stinks.

Warning: Contains British slang, a very un-British heat wave, and a plumber with a psychic gift who may not be as British as he thinks he is.

Heat Trap
SamhainPublishing (March 17, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1619229242
ISBN-13: 978-1619229242

I’d never gone into a pub cellar before—I might be a plumber, but the sort of liquids they have piped in down there aren’t really my area of expertise. Then again, I suppose I’ve downed a few pints in my time. I’d expected it to be fairly small, just room for a few barrels and pipelines. Maybe another room where they stored the spares, and the bottles of wine and bags of crisps and stuff.

It was actually pretty massive, with four or five separate rooms leading off from the narrow stone stairway. It couldn’t stretch as far as the whole upstairs floor space, owing to the medieval well in the public bar which must still have been in use when the cellar was dug, but it couldn’t be far off. If trade at the Devil’s Dyke ever took off in a big way, landlady Harry could put in a whole separate bar down here if she wanted to. The walls were whitewashed brick, with those low, curving ceilings you always seemed to get in cellars built during Ye Olde Tymes.
It was as if I’d dropped in on a hobbit with a drinking problem.
And a housekeeping problem, come to that. It smelt pretty rank down here. There was something about the odour that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, although maybe it was just down to the chill in the air here after the oven-like conditions back upstairs in the land of the living. I stood stock-still, opened up the spidey-senses and listened.
I practically fell over with the force of the vibes buffeting me in the chest.
I couldn’t believe I’d been sitting in the bar having a pint, oblivious. How could I have blocked out something that strong? There was guilt and anger—and fear too. My stomach went cold as I realised just what I was likely to find down here.
I turned to Marianne. “I reckon you’ve got more to worry about than a burst drain, love.” My face must have looked as iffy as I felt, as she wrapped skinny arms around herself, her pretty face a picture of worry.
I followed the thick, sickly vibes out of the main cellar with its shiny metal barrels and high-tech pump lines, the hum of the chiller unit fading behind me. They took me down the dimly lit passageway that led to the farthest cellar room. It was clearly used as a dumping ground for any old rubbish Harry hadn’t got around to chucking away yet.
Among other things.
It was warmer in here, although still nowhere near as hot as upstairs, and close up, the stench was sickening. Let’s face it, in my profession you get used to the odd nasty niff, from blocked drains and bunged-up loos and that, but the stink of death? That’s something else. I think it’s the sweetness that gets to me most. Like, what the hell is something so awful doing smelling sweet? I gagged and clapped a hand over my nose and mouth. It didn’t help. The reek of decay seemed to seep inside my lungs even when I wasn’t inhaling. I had to force myself to go on looking.
Didn’t take me long to find it. Talk about following your nose. It was wedged behind some barrels—actual old wooden ones, covered in cobwebs. God knows why they were down here. Maybe they’d been left by the original owner of the place. Any beer they’d ever held had long since been drunk, or maybe just evaporated over the centuries.
The body didn’t actually look as far gone as you’d think, given the smell. The features were swollen, grotesque, but still recognisable.
At least, I recognised them.

JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea.  She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance, and is frequently accused of humour.  Her novel Relief Valve, #2 in the Plumber’s Mate series, is a finalist in the 2015 EPIC Awards.
Find JL Merrow online at:

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