Erryn and Dana review Father Complex (Hazard and Somerset: Arrows in the Hand Book 4) by Gregory Ashe (Published by Hodgkin and Blount. Audio released May 12, 2022, narrated by Tristan James, 11 hours 31 minutes in length. Ebook released April 8, 2022, 392 pages.) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Having a father can be hard. Being a good one might be even harder.
The call-out for the double homicide, when it comes, is a strange one: two men gunned down in a motel room, no witnesses, no real clues. Even stranger, the men were enemies, and no one seems to know why they were in that motel room together. And stranger still, people won’t stop calling John-Henry Somerset, telling him he needs to find some answers—preferably nice, easy ones—fast.
Hazard and Somers set out to learn what happened, but they quickly find themselves mired in shifting factions: the ultraconservative political machine of the Ozark Volunteers; a liberal activist group protesting the local gun show; a reclusive fundamentalist church; even a hint of Mexican drug cartels. The further they press their investigation, the clearer it becomes that the killer—or killers—wants something, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it.
As Hazard and Somers struggle to find the truth, they face trouble at home as well. Their foster-son, Colt, has received a letter from his estranged father, the same man who attacked Colt and Somers in their home. Worse, Colt seems open to more communication, which leaves Hazard grappling with his fears for Colt and his helplessness against a world that seems to be conspiring to take his foster-son away.
But when a pair of gunmen come after Hazard at home, two things are crystal-clear: He’s going to get to the bottom of these murders, and he’ll do anything to keep his family together.
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There are so many father relationships in this book – each unique. Let’s start with Hazard and his foster son Colt. Hazard believed he had a good grasp on the relationship – tenuous as it has always been. But when Colt’s biological father contacts him, and he goes to see the old man, Hazard is triggered. He fears losing Colt. He doesn’t react well to that.
The two murder victims are also fathers. But they certainly aren’t Father of the Year material. And the list of people who want them dead is pretty long. Except they’re on opposite sides of the gun debate. Even as I type this, I’m aware of the tragedy unfolding in Texas. And there’ll be another incident next week. And another. Maybe not as horrible as this, but they’ll keep happening. My heart breaks over that, which made the topic in this book all the more urgent.
Turns out the two murder victims weren’t beloved to virtually anyone – and they aren’t even missed that much. Except Somerset and Hazard are determined to solve the mystery – another good one, I have to say.
Oh, and let me not forget the cameo of my two favorite crime-solving sleuths – North and Shaw. In a book with such serious topics, I loved that I could immerse myself in these two and laugh my butt off. Seriously! It’s hard to be serious with these two around and I loved seeing them from Hazard and Somerset’s perspective. I’m hopeful there’s another N&S book coming soon.
Everything works out – the men solve the crime, Colt’s situation is resolved, and it looks like those who did wrong will be punished. It’ll be interesting if there are more books to come – I never get bored of them.
Quick nod to the wonderful Tristan James. He delivered another stellar performance and I enjoyed every minute of it.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
Every book of the Hazard and Somerset series continues to be an excellent read. There is always a great mystery, and there is good character development. With this being the fifteenth full length novel featuring these characters, you might think they’d have things pretty well in hand, but it is always a learning experience for the two men and now for their teenage son. But that is life, we might think we know everything as adults until something shakes up our world and forces us to endure and adapt to the unknown. (On a side note, I haven’t really mentioned the covers of the books before. In the first two series, I thought the covers were decent, but with the Arrows in Hand series, there is more significance to the covers, I think. The overhead view of a vehicle driving on a road in all the covers reflects the new journey taken by Hazard and Somerset in this series and the new road they are traveling together.)
Most of the problems Somers was having in the last book have been resolved. His demanding father didn’t really feature in this story, which I think everyone can agree was a relief. He’s learning to step back and take on the supervisory role of the police chief without letting his old co-workers roll all over him. Though some of them are still trying. Things would be pretty good for him if he didn’t have to mediate the constant arguments that break out between Hazard and their son Colt.
Hazard has always been the more difficult character of the two. Not as charming as Somers but he had a lot of reasons to be as closed off as he was in the beginning and even is now. His experiences with his own father have Hazard worrying about his ability to raise a son, and he’s experiencing the anxieties of having a teenager who is testing boundaries and trying to find out what he wants to do with his life. So many times, I want to stop Hazard from saying the things he does, and Somers does try to stop him. Unfortunately, he’s not successful. Hazard rolls with his frustration and anger a little too easy. However the author always does a great job of letting us know his inner thoughts and fears, and his desire to be a good father and husband. Somehow, I always forgive him, and so do his husband and son, thank goodness.
The mystery in this story was very interesting. It’s never cut and dried in a H&S book, and the investigation definitely took some twists and turns before they are able to find out what happened. The Ozark Volunteers feature heavily in this book, and there’s a strange gun loving cult on the rise; so relevant and saddening with what happened in Texas recently. So, who should drop in to muck things up a little bit more? North and Shaw! I really do love when these characters cross over a little bit. North and Shaw are always a crazy pair and it’s really fun to see them through the dour Hazard’s eyes.
It’s another great book by Gregory Ashe, and the narration by Tristan James is always well done. I definitely recommend, this book, the series, and the previous two series featuring these characters. They really have made a road into my heart. I look forward to the next book.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 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!