Dana reviews The Keeper of Bees (Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords Book 5) by Gregory Ashe (Published by Hodgkin and Blount, July 31, 2020, 369 pages. Audiobook released December 1, 2020. Narrated by Tristan James. 10 hours 48 minutes in length.) An audio code was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I listened to this: It’s the last of a series that I have reviewed and have become invested in seeing what happens with the couple and the mystery that has run through the series.
To read the review of The Rational Faculty (Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords Book 1) click here.
To read the review of Police Brutality (Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords Book 2) click here.
To read the review of Transactional Dynamics (Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords Book 3) click here.
To read the review of Wayward (Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords Book 4) click here.
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.
There is so much I want to talk about because this is the last book of this series. Over the first Hazard and Somerset series and this second series, Union of Swords, there has been much turmoil between these characters. Their past was rocky with Somerset playing the part of high school bully to Hazard. When Hazard came back to town many years later, he partners with Somerset, Somers for short, on the police force. The two experience many things together on the force, corrupt politicians and sheriffs, a politically divided environment, family issues, troublesome exes, and a growing attraction to each other.
In the Union of Swords series, their coupling is official, but it is far from an easy road for them. Hazard leaves the force after a traumatic incident and to avoid the eventual ending of their partnership at work because of their relationship. His new, idler life is hard for him and Somers’ isn’t always the most sensitive to his feelings. And then there is Hazard’s PTSD that causes him to lash out. Their relationship has been a rollercoaster throughout this series. Even in the previous book, I was still thinking there was a chance that they weren’t strong enough to get through this series and the lurking threat of a serial killer and remain a couple. However, the work that they have put into fixing things seems to have paid off in this book. Yes, they still snipe at each other at times, but they have both become self-aware enough to stop their anger in their tracks and confront their real problems.
I love the romance between the two characters and am captivated by their ups and downs, but I am definitely interested in the mysteries that they solve in the books as well. Sometimes it is together, when Hazard agreed to consult for the police. Often they are working apart, Somers on the force, and Hazard as a private investigator. There are smaller mysteries in each book, but their is a mystery that arcs throughout the series, and it comes to a head in this book. It is clear to see just by the title of the book. The Keeper of Bees killed two gay men in the first book and has since taunted Hazard in small ways.
This mystery had me making so many guesses throughout the series. When a friend of Hazard and Somers’ is killed it looks likely to be someone they know well. And I had my suspicions. Could it be Hazard’s jealous ex? Was it the pastor that had a rocky relationship with Hazard? Somers’ new partner who has acted extremely suspicious to me throughout the series? And I even considered it might be the guy who first hired Hazard as a P.I. and also was a victim of the serial killer who managed to get away. There were arrows pointing to all of them, and I have to give the author credit for really fooling me in this book into thinking it was one of my guesses when it was a different one. Who? I can’t tell you, of course. But it is definitely worth the reveal. Even though, Hazard would have liked to kill the Killer of Bees for all the torture he had put him and his victims through, justice is seen in a completely legal way, which is very good for Hazard’s somewhat murky reputation with the town and the police.
With the killer caught, and the relationship between Hazard and Somerset seeming to be on real solid ground, I was thinking that things were pretty finished but hoped that there might be a future book that sees the engaged pair married. But the author managed to round things out for them completely (which I loved) meaning that there might not be a future book to revisit this couple, (which made me sad). I won’t give up hope that there might be a visit from them in another series, because I really love these complex and imperfect characters who truly love each other.
I’m not sure it can be said enough, how much I recommend these books, especially the audiobooks. I happened to listen to the whole series and I loved them. Tristan James does a fantastic job narrating them. So if you haven’t read or listened to any of these books yet, I recommend reading them in order including the first series. They will be among my repeat listens.
10/10 Pots of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
I’m a long-time Midwesterner. I’ve lived in Chicago, Bloomington (IN), and Saint Louis, my current home. Aside from reading and writing (which take up a lot of my time), I’m an educator.