Relative Justice by Gregory Ashe #LGBT #DuoReview #Mystery #GayFiction

Relative Justice (Hazard and Somerset: Arrows in the Hand Book 1) by Gregory Ashe (Published by Hodgkin and Blount. Audio realeased November 18, 2021, narrated by Tristan James, 11 hours 22 minutes in length. Ebook released October 5, 2021, 408 pages.) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb: 

An impossible son. An impossible murder.

The honeymoon is definitely over.

When Emery Hazard and his husband, John-Henry Somerset, arrive home from their honeymoon, they’re shocked (understatement of the year) to find a boy waiting for them on their doorstep. Colt, 15 and eager to pick a fight, claims to be Hazard’s son. It’s almost a relief, then, for Hazard and Somers to be called out to assist the Dore County Sheriff’s Department with what seems to be an impossible murder: a man has been found stabbed to death in a stretch of woods, and the only set of footprints in the soft ground belong to the victim. 

The more Hazard and Somers learn about the dead man, the more confusing the case becomes. While searching his home, they discover a secure room from which several high-end computers have been stolen. A woman makes a daring theft as the house is being secured and escapes with valuable documents. The dead man’s neighbor, who found the body, is obviously lying about how she discovered him. And something very strange is going on with the victim’s sons, who are isolated at school and seem to have found their few friends through the youth group at a local church – and in a close relationship with the hip, young, attractive pastor. 

An attempt on Colt’s life leaves Hazard’s (possible) son in the hospital. When Hazard and Somers learn that the attack came after Colt tried to investigate the murder on his own, they realize he is now in the killer’s crosshairs, and Hazard and Somers must race to uncover the truth. The results from the paternity test aren’t back yet, but father or not, Emery Hazard isn’t going to let anyone harm a child.

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Erryn’s review:

The book begins as Hazard and Somerset arrive home from their honeymoon.  The last series ended when they finally tied the knot.  I should have known that wasn’t the end of this fascinating duo.  Apparently Mr. Ashe can’t leave them alone either.  And as they’re settling into married bliss, a blast from Hazard’s past arrives on their front door.  Or, rather, a supposed blast.  Colt, a diffident fifteen-year-old claims to be Emery’s son.  The problem?  Emery’s never been with a woman.  Ever.

They ship off the DNA samples, but before they can settle into any kind of a routine, there’s a murder.  Somerset is called in and so is Hazard.  Things from the very beginning are suspicious.  The circumstances of the murder, the neighbour, the sons of the deceased – all of it points in different directions.

As the men investigate, so does Colt.  Which leads him into all kinds of trouble, including being badly beaten.  But the young man just wants Emery to see him as worthy of being his son.  This dynamic proved interesting – Emery knows Colt isn’t his son, but there are strong indicators that the boy is.  Where does that leave a skeptic like Emery?  Well, unable to tolerate anyone hurting the boy, that’s for sure.  And his daughter he shares with Somerset is fascinated with the teenager who’s moved in.  Evie is still adorable and precocious.

I have to admit, I didn’t see the murderer.  But that’s why Ashe’s books are so good.  It makes sense, but you have to review everything to peg down the clues you missed.  Then, of course, after the murder was solved, it was time to settle the paternity once and for all.  I have to admit, I liked the conclusion on that front.  And, of course, the men’s neighbors and friends are all in the book.  Nice to see the old faces – especially Emery’s mother.  She’s a hoot.

Finally I have to mention Tristan James.  He’s able to hit just the right notes with the men.  Emery’s sarcasm, John Henry’s earnestness.  I can’t wait for the next one in the series.

9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars

Dana’s review: 

I started out reading Gregory Ashe’s books with the Hazard and Somerset series. I think, not just for me, but others as well, that the first series that you start reading from an author makes it a favorite. Or at least they have sentimental value to the reader. It definitely is true, in my case. Hazard and Somerset are favorites of mine, and I am so glad the author brought them back in a second spin-off series with new twists and turns.

I’ve seen Hazard and Somerset weather all sorts of disasters and fight their way to a happy ending.  I wasn’t expecting the strictly gay, never been with a woman Hazard to have a secret son show up at his door. Hazard definitely doesn’t expect it either, or believe it. Right away he reacts with his go-to distrust and anger. When Hazard is good, it’s hard to remember how cutting he can be, and I felt bad for the boy. Yes, how he came from Hazard’s loins is a mystery, but immediately Colt tries to impress and worm his way into Hazard’s affections.

That includes interfering in a case both Hazard and Somerset are consulting on. The case falls under the sheriff’s jurisdiction and not the police department Somerset is in charge of, but the sheriff trusts the two men and asks for help. God knows that his own deputies are just awful at their jobs. Their holier than thou attitudes and bullying natures are so off-putting. Hazard definitely crosses them during the course of the investigation so I’m not sure, but it’s possible we might see some more conflict with these goons in later books.

As far as mysteries go, this one was a good one. I think I had an inkling about who had committed the murder Hazard, Somerset, and Colt were trying to solve. It was just a hunch of the least likely suspect, but I had no idea what reasons lay behind the murder and the horrors surrounding it. Lets just say that the victim and his “girlfriend” were horrible human beings who had my brain imagining even worse scenarios than the awful acts that actually occurred. With the help of Colt and the confessions of the new pastor in town, but not the sheriff’s department, Hazard and Somerset solve the case like always. That means with Hazard getting hurt, of course.

After all Hazard goes through in this book with Colt; life threatening situations, bullying principals, and shared past experiences, the results of the paternity test cease to matter to Hazard. Whether Colt is his son or not, he comes to care for the boy. It doesn’t mean Hazard won’t still be harsh at times and demanding, but he wants to include Colt into his and Somerset’s lives.

I have to give Somers a lot of credit in this book. After coming home from his honeymoon, he is surprised by a boy claiming to be his husband’s son and he treats him with care and concern from the get go. Then there is the murder investigation, his own biological daughter, stepping into his new role as police chief, and trying to keep Hazard from blowing his lid. He is so calm and rational and was the voice of sanity in this story. Not always the case, but very refreshing.

I also want to quickly mention Nico, Hazard’s ex who appears in this book looking to work for Hazard. After what he went through in the last series, he seems to be a whole new Nico. He is subdued and wants to right wrongs he made in his past. I am looking forward to what happens with him in this series. I think I’m starting to feel for him and would love to see him find some sort of happy ending, maybe in a series of his own.

For fans of Gregory Ashe’s other series, there is a fun cameo from Theo, the mc from the First Quarto series. Of course I can’t wait for more of that series and for the next Arrows in Hand book to release on audio. I am a huge fan of this author and the narrator Tristan James is Hazard and Somerset to me. It was a great listen that I highly recommend.

9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars

 

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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.

While I enjoy reading across many genres, my two main loves are mystery and speculative fiction. I used to keep a list of favorite books, but it changes so frequently that I’ve given up. I’m always looking for recommendations, though, so please drop me a line if you have something in mind!

If you can’t find what you’re looking for on the site, please contact me and let me know. (That includes anything pertinent that I should have already told you; I never know what to put in these dang ‘about’ sections!)

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