Domestic Animals (Hazard and Somerset: Arrows in the Hand Book 3) by Gregory Ashe (Published by Hodgkin and Blount. Audio released March 23, 2022, narrated by Tristan James, 12 hours 57 minutes in length. Ebook released February 11, 2022, 427 pages.) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Sometimes, the most dangerous animals are the ones you let inside.
When a man hires Emery Hazard to track down a teenager who, he claims, robbed him, Hazard isn’t convinced. The story has holes in it, and the client seems eager—too eager—to keep the authorities from getting involved. But Hazard is willing to play along; he suspects something much darker is going on, and he wants to know what it is.
Then his husband, John-Henry Somerset, connects the boy in question to an ongoing suspicious death investigation, and both men realize they’ve stumbled upon something much more complicated. There are too many loose threads: missing money, stolen jewelry, a husband back from the dead, and a string of violent assaults on men paying for sex. And there are too many people with their own agendas.
After Hazard’s client turns up dead, though, the pressure is on. The killer isn’t done yet, and the closer Hazard and Somers come to unearthing the connection between the victims, the greater the danger. They find themselves in a race to uncover the truth before another victim is claimed—and, if Somers is really lucky, in time for him to plan the perfect Valentine’s Day.
I’m never quite sure where each Hazard and Somerset book will take me. Dark places? Sure. Morally repugnant characters? Pretty much guaranteed. Shocked? Well, yeah, that too.
Hazard’s upstart detective agency is always in need of clients, so when one comes along whose story is dubious, Hazard takes the job, but has his suspicions. Those suspicions are confirmed when the guy turns up dead. On Hazard’s turf. The more he digs, the more he discovers things are not as they seem. But when are they ever?
Somerset, meanwhile, is dealing with disgruntlement in his ranks. He’s the chief, but his authority is forever being contested and Dulac’s drinking problem isn’t helping matters. Can John-Henry be both a friend and a boss to his former partner? And of course Somers’ father is making a pest of himself. Every time the man shows up, my hackles rise. I must insert a note that Tristan James’s portrayal of the man is perfect. His voice for the loathsome creature puts me on edge. As it should.
When it becomes clear Hazard and Somerset are looking for the same person (or persons), they team up again. People around them are in danger. I was never quite sure who was a good guy and who was a bad guy. Motives were suspect as well. And, finally, their foster son Colt became entangled with new kids while on the outs with his ‘friend’ Ashley. That hurt my heart because I know Colt and Ashley are so good together. Even if just as friends.
Eventually things wrapped up. I didn’t see the killer coming, Or killers. I didn’t foresee this dénouement. And, of course, I got a satisfactory ending, although even that was in question. Somers was definitely off his game. But the men are happy. Apparently there are at least two more books in the series, so I’ll keep enjoying them. And, another plug for Tristan James – he’s made for these books and I adore his narration of them. Worth a listen.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
I feel like there is always so much to say when reviewing a Hazard and Somerset book, it’s hard to know where to start. Gregory Ashe always does a great job of balancing a great mystery plot with character development and relationship struggles. One thing I’ve noticed in the Arrows in the Hand series is since Colt was taken in by H&S the mysteries presented often revolve around other teenagers.
In Domestic Animals, a man comes to Hazard’s agency and seeks his help finding a teen who supposedly stole his watch. Chief Somerset, meanwhile, gets a call to help investigate the death of a woman who had a troubled relationship with her teenage son. Hazard is suspicious of his client, concerned he might be involved in child trafficking, until the man ends up dead and in Hazard and Somers’ basement. There are no end to the suspects of Somers’ murdered woman. The ex she paid to disappear, her gay son, possibly her investment broker, or the broker’s wife the victim was having an affair with. The suspects and motives were overwhelming and even more so when Hazard’s case runs into Somers’ and they have to work together when the possible killer or killers put Colt and his new friends in the hospital.
Honestly, the mystery was top notch, but personally, I was more preoccupied with Hazard, Somerset, and Colt, and all their feelings that they stubbornly refuse to work out in a productive manner. Somers is overwhelmed at work and just about burned out with life. He didn’t ask to be chief of police but his father, the mayor, put him there in order to have pull with his influential friends and donors. There are cops that don’t respect him, a zealous but needy young cop constantly asking for advice, his old partner who is coming to work drunk because of relationship troubles, his father asking him to overlook solicitation charges for a friend, and well, it feels like a crap-ton more. Every time I started to empathize with Somers so strongly, he’d push everything down and either check out or pretend nothing was wrong, And then I was only filled with frustration.
At home, Colt is on the outs with his best friend Ash, who always seemed like a bit more than a friend to me. When he isn’t wallowing on the couch watching tv, he is hanging out with new friends who seem to be a very bad influence. They tell him that Hazard and Somers don’t understand him, and he lashes out against his dads, and starts fighting with Ash in school. He basically acts like the typical teenager acting out over the teenage angst that seems like the end all and be all at the time. But those new friends are a bit of a problem in more ways than their influence over him.
Hazard is Hazard. In earlier books, I thought of Hazard as a hothead. He had anger issues and was sometimes violent in his reactions. He’s less volatile now, but he’s become stodgy instead. He doesn’t take cues very well, and seems like he knows everything. He isn’t into exaggerations and prefers documentaries to fiction. He seems oblivious to Somers melting down and nags on him to do things around the house. He projects own experiences as a teen on Colt’s troubles. Most of my frustration probably focused on Hazard, but in a typical Hazard fashion, he eventually does clue in to the fact that he is messing things up, and a switch is flipped.
Once Hazard starts to actually talk to Colt and Somers and reaches them both on an emotional level things in the book change. The mysteries are solved and the three guys seem to be dealing with things together in a healthier way. Hazard still has very dry moments, Somers still has to deal with his dad, and Colt is still a teen who is going to go through some growing pains, but at the end of this book, I was saying, “Awww…” I really was happy and feeling the love.
This series is amazing and really makes me feel all the feels and Tristan James narrates this series so well, I can’t rave enough about it. For now things are feeling good, but I know there are two more books in this series, so I expect to go through this roller coaster of emotions again, and I honestly can’t wait.
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.
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!