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.
The Old Ball and Chain
Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’d like to thank RJ for welcoming me here as part of the Heat Trap blog tour. J
Today, I’d like to talk to you about an institution.
It’s not a spoiler to say there’s a wedding in Heat Trap. Cuddly campanologist Gary and his ex porn star lover Darren were already planning the wedding—not without a few hiccups—in Relief Valve.
As Church of England priests aren’t currently allowed to marry same sex couples, the place our happy couple chose to get hitched was the St Albans Register Office.
Looks lovely, doesn’t it? And the cannon in the forecourt adds a nicely phallic touch.
But if you’re British, and of a certain age—or if you just like watching old comedy shows—you may be experiencing a slight sense of déjà vu.
Because yes, you’ve seen this frontage before:
Every episode of the much-loved 1970s comedy series Porridge started with footage of the late, great Ronnie Barker getting banged up for five years in Slade Prison, aka St Albans Register Office.
Marriage is like prison but without the sex – Anon
Maybe it’s just my warped sense of humour, but I must admit it tickles me that so many happy couples queue up to get a life sentence in what was once the most famous fictional prison in the land (I think it’s now been overtaken by Azkaban, but as far as I know, you can’t yet get married there).
And it gets better. The Register Office actually was a prison in Victorian times—or rather, this particular building was the gatehouse and governor’s residence. There were 99 cells: 85 for men, and 14 for women, all single occupancy with “heating, hammock, window and toilet” – http://www.stalbanshistory.org/. There was also a schoolroom—and a treadmill for those on hard labour.
How many of those gathered to celebrate weddings, I wonder, spare a thought for the poor unfortunates (or, if you like, undeserving miscreants) who passed through that famous gateway before them?
If marriage isn't a prison, why do they call it wedlock? – Anon
I’ll leave the last word to Norman Stanley Fletcher, as played by Ronnie Barker (here, trying to weasel his way out of having to wear prison-issue boots in the first ever episode of Porridge, first broadcast 1974):
Doctor: Suffer from any illness?
Fletch: Bad feet.
Doctor: (annoyed) Suffer from any illness?
Fletch: (insistently) Bad feet!
Doctor: Paid a recent visit to a doctor or hospital?
Fletch: Only with my bad feet.
Doctor: Are you now or have you at any time been a practicing homosexual?
Fletch: What, with these feet? Who'd have me?
Free ebook from my backlist (including Heat Trap) to a randomly chosen commenter on this post.
Giveaway question: what’s the best/worst/weirdest place you’ve ever heard of people getting married?
And there’s a grand prize of a signed paperback copy of book #2 in my Plumber’s Mate series, the EPIC award finalist Relief Valve, plus a pair of rainbow-coloured merino wool blend wrist-warmers, hand-knitted by the author, for one lucky commenter on the tour.
I’m happy to ship internationally, and the more blog posts you comment on, the more chances you get!
Please remember to leave an email addy in your comment so I can get in touch with you if you win.
I’ll be making the draws around teatime on Wednesday 1st April, GMT (no joke!)
Good luck! 😀
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 mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novella Muscling Through was a 2013 EPIC Award finalist, and her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy. Her novel Relief Valve is a finalist in the 2015 EPIC Awards.
JL Merrow is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.