Title: Paternity Case
Series: Hazard and Somerset: Book Three
Author: Gregory Ashe
Length: 465 Pages
Category: Murder Mystery, Mystery/Suspense
At a Glance: The murder mystery in this novel is, as I’ve come to expect from this author, exceptional. I fell in deep like with John-Henry Somerset in this book, and the emotional punch Ashe threw in at the end was delivered with precision.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: It’s almost Christmas, and Emery Hazard finds himself face to face with his own personal nightmare: going on a double date with his partner—and boyhood crush—John-Henry Somerset. Hazard brings his boyfriend; Somers brings his estranged wife. Things aren’t going to end well.
When a strange call interrupts dinner, however, Hazard and his partner become witnesses to a shooting. The victims: Somers’s father, and the daughter of a high school friend. The crime is inexplicable. There is no apparent motive, no connection between the victims, and no explanation for how the shooter reached his targets.
Determined to get answers, Hazard and Somers move forward with their investigation in spite of mounting pressure to stop. Their search for the truth draws them into a dark web of conspiracy and into an even darker tangle of twisted love and illicit desire. And as the two men come face to face with the passions and madness behind the crime, they must confront their own feelings for each other—and the hard truths that neither man is ready to accept.
Review: So, by now you’ve probably guessed I’m a bit of a Gregory Ashe fan. And if you think my reviews of his books are beginning to sound repetitive, well, you’d be right. I’m sadly limited by my vocabulary and the ability to express how much I love this author’s writing, his characters, and the one component that can truly make or break a book for me, the dialogue. Ashe has a real talent for conversation that is not only germane and integral to the progression of the storyline but is also revealing of his characters. The irony of this, in the case of Emery Hazard and John-Henry Somerset, is that they say very little of a personal nature to each other when they do speak. But, it’s what’s left unsaid between them that speaks volumes.
Ashe seems to have a keen awareness of when it’s time to advance a storyline, stringing readers along but never dragging things out to the point of tedium. Ashe saw where Emery and John-Henry’s relationship, built on the fault lines and tectonic plates of a past that can’t be changed, needed to shift, and shift it he has, allowing Somers more introspective moments and a significant revelation of his long-buried secrets and feelings. This had to happen, for Somers’ sake as well as the reader’s, to offer this deeper point of view, something that up to now had been more Hazard’s domain. I fell in intense like with John-Henry Somerset in this book, and the emotional punch Ashe threw in at the end of Paternity Case was delivered with precision.
There’s an “if you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with” component to this series that will seemingly come to a head in the upcoming Guilt by Association, due out on June 8th (and if you think I haven’t pre-ordered it already, you would be mistaken). Hazard is attempting to be more committed to his relationship with his boyfriend, Nico, while things are still largely unresolved between Somers and his estranged wife, Cora. Hazard and Somers are each, ostensibly, with someone who doesn’t ‘get’ them, their commitment to their job and to each other. It’s as if Emery and John-Henry are each the third person in the other’s relationship, at least on a sub-conscious if not an explicit level. It’s a situation that’s ultimately not going to work for either of them, and the question of where they’ll go from here looms large. Emery and Somers reveal things to us that they can’t, or won’t, reveal to each other. Being in love with someone for twenty years, with someone you don’t believe feels the same way, is the elephant in the room right now, and it’s bound to be explosive when the truth comes out.
The murder mystery in this novel is, as I’ve come to expect from this author, exceptional. There’s a thread of political intrigue and corruption coming on full bore in the overall series arc, and it all plays out against a shooting that sees a teenage girl dead and Somers’ father in the hospital with a handful of bullets in him. Was Glenn Somerset the target, or was he merely caught in the crossfire? Whatever the case, this time it’s personal for Somers. And his continued drinking to avoid dealing with things is only exacerbating his issues.
When it looks like this is an open and shut case, Hazard and Somers are ordered to let it go: their perp is dead, but ignoring the gut instinct that something is wrong, very wrong, drives them to act independent of the Wahredua PD. There’s something decidedly rotten in the state of Missouri, this is far from an open and shut case, and it would go against their very beings to leave it alone. But the deeper they dig, the clearer it becomes that they themselves may be in danger.
The secondary characters in this novel are well cast and range from yet another bully from Emery’s past to a couple of boys who play a significant role in bringing both Emery and Somers closer to a turning point—the what-might-have-beens summon a poignant regret from the depths of their past, and the more we learn about Emery’s past, the more I admire his strength and resilience. We also learn more about what drove Hazard from St. Louis and brought him back to Wahredua, yet another element that Ashe has been teasing out in these first three books, and it serves to add another layer to Emery and Somers’ partnership.
Once again, a lot happens in a short period of time in their investigation, keeping the pace moving like a race against time. Paternity Case is yet another win for me from this author, and he’s quickly taken a place on my short list of must-reads.
You can buy Paternity Case here:
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