Title: The Keeper of Bees
Series: Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords: Book Five
Author: Gregory Ashe
Length: 369 Pages
At a Glance: Action packed, heart-pounding suspense and danger and intrigue somehow…somehow…ends on a thoroughly romantic note, and I can’t wait to see where Em and John, and their family, and their friends, go next.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Emery Hazard has pretty much everything under control. He and his fiancé, John-Henry Somerset, are more in love than ever, despite the stress of wedding preparations hanging over them. His business as a private investigator is growing. He’s even enjoying time with his growing circle of friends. The only major problem on the horizon is whether or not he and Somers will be dancing at the wedding reception.
When Mitchell Martin shows up in his office, though, everything changes. The year before, Mitchell was abducted and tortured by a sadistic killer known only as the Keeper of Bees. Now Mitchell is convinced that the Keeper has come back, and he wants to hire Hazard to protect him.
While Hazard works to keep Mitchell safe, Somers must adjust to changes at work. A spate of new hires has disrupted the Wahredua Police Department, and Somers finds himself locked in a struggle to determine how the department will grow and evolve, with long-term consequences that will affect the town for years to come.
Then a woman is found murdered, and she has been staged and posed in a way that is eerily similar to the Keeper of Bee’s former victims. As Hazard and Somers race to prevent more deaths, Hazard fears they are already too late; the Keeper of Bees has been ahead of them the whole time.
Review: And so another chapter closes on Emery Hazard and John-Henry Somerset. And so…I remain undefeated at being wrong. Just when you think you have everything figured out is when Gregory Ashe nopes you right out of that notion.
As has been the case with every book in this series—and the rest of Ashe’s work, for that matter—he excels at the Big Reveal, but it’s not so much the solving of the mystery of the Keeper of Bees’ identity that offers satisfaction in this book as it is the process by which Hazard and Somers lead readers to that point of resolution. Don’t get me wrong: when it’s all or nothing, when the fine line between life and death is the matter of a mere hair’s breadth, when the Keeper’s identity is finally exposed, it delivers the shock it’s meant to. But the journey to get there is where the gratification lies in this installment.
Emery’s lists, John-Henry’s work frustrations, the red herrings, the dead ends, the danger, the shakedowns, the ever-present malfeasance within the Wahredua PD, not to mention the navigating of their relationship, are all integral cogs in the whole of this machine. In fact, for those of us who have been waiting for Hazard and Somers to face and begin dealing proactively with the underlying issues that have affected their relationship, namely the tripwire that is Emery’s PTSD, as well as John-Henry’s ongoing sobriety, The Keeper of Bees is our ultimate reward. This book delivers Hazard and Somers to a new place in their life together, both on the professional and the personal front, setting things up for the continuation of life in this small, central Missouri town populated by some of the sketchiest characters out there.
Of course, nothing happens without the assistance of the supporting characters in a Hazard and Somerset story, and many of the usuals are present and accounted for. A handful of them even make their way onto Emery’s shortlist of suspects in a murder investigation. While his ability to detach has become a means of protecting himself, and hasn’t always served him well on the personal front, it’s been one of his greatest assets on the professional. That he believes no one is exempt from suspicion, that he operates with a methodology that allows him to see friends (the people he considers John’s friends) as potential perpetrators of a gruesome crime, and that Somers is his counterbalance while also fighting his own, and frankly shocking, battle, came together to elevate The Keeper of Bees to my favorite book yet in the entire series.
This story ushers along some newbies as well—a promising add to the cast, the others not so much, many who didn’t last overlong, which is one of the storylines that advances and sets up the continuation of the series into its next iteration. And, of course, there’s always the question of how Ashe manages to make me like characters it irritates me beyond all reason to find something to like about. Action packed, heart-pounding suspense and danger and intrigue somehow…somehow…ends on a thoroughly romantic note, and I can’t wait to see where Em and John, and their family, and their friends, go next.
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