Erryn and Dana review Final Orders (Hazard and Somerset: Arrows in the Hand Book 5) by Gregory Ashe (Published by Hodgkin and Blount. Audio released July 21,2022, narrated by Tristan James, 12 hours 10 minutes in length. Ebook released June 7, 2022, 410 pages.) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
An embattled author. Fanatical parents. A son who can’t stay out of trouble. It’s the last one that’ll probably kill him.
When Emery Hazard gets drawn into a brawl at a monthly school board meeting, he knows he’s in trouble; his husband, John-Henry Somerset, is chief of police, and they’re already under enough scrutiny as they try to finalize their foster son’s permanency plan.
Hazard’s actions, however, have an unexpected consequence: A woman shows up at his office the next day, and she wants to hire him to protect her mother. Loretta Ames is a famous—and famously troublesome—author, and a string of recent attempts on her life suggests that someone is determined to get rid of her. Under pressure from his assistant, Hazard takes the job, assuming that it will be two days of babysitting before Loretta returns to New York.
Her murder changes everything. To find the killer, Hazard and Somers will enter a murky world of concerned parents, entitled teenagers, internet trolls, and a whole lot of grassroots crazy. But nothing is straightforward about the investigation, and even Loretta’s daughter seems to have her own reasons to want her mother dead. And when the killer abducts Colt’s friend, Hazard and Somers realize they are running out of time, and they must race to save him before it’s too late.
Much of this book could be ripped from the headlines – fanatical parents, woke teachers, paramilitary groups, controversial author – all in and of themselves would make a compelling story. Throw it all together and you’ve got chaos. But, good chaos.
Although this is a Hazard and Somerset book, the story was more weighted in Emery’s point of view. This made sense – he has the most to lose. If he can’t hold on to their foster son, he’s likely to come apart at the seams. John Henry still has to deal with his meddling father and a police force who won’t always do what they’re told.
What begins as a simple bodyguard assignment for Emery turns darker when his protectee turns up dead. The famous author’s murder sets off a string of events that weren’t predictable, and yet made total sense as they happened. And every time Emery thinks he’s got a grasp on what’s going on, that knowledge slips through his fingers like sand and he’s back to figuring out who has which motive, who might’ve done the crime, and whether or not he can keep his foster son safe. Colt just seems to attract trouble wherever he goes.
I’ve always wanted this family to come together, and when that was threatened, I wanted to shake some sense into Colt. Yet over and over, he did the wrong thing for the right reason.
As usual, I didn’t see who the murderer was. Everything fell into place, of course, and I felt satisfied with the end. Throw in another couple of ripped from the headlines events, and the story rounded out nicely.
Is this the end of the line? The title refers to Colt’s future adoption into the household, but a few loose ends are still hanging. Gregory Ashe really loves this couple and their found family, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he started a new branch – after all, Colt hasn’t left for college yet.
Tristan James has narrated this series brilliantly, and I’ve enjoyed all his performances. Glad he helmed this one. If this is the end, I’ll be sad to see the men walk off into the sunset. If there’s more to come, count me in for the wild ride ahead.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
At the end of each book in this series, there is a part of me that thinks that the characters’ troubles are on the mend and that everything is going to be good from here on out. But it is never the case with Hazard and Somerset, and their son Colt, and I should have learned that by now.
The town of Wahredua is up in arms when the author of a young adult LGBT series of books is invited to speak at the high school. The school board meeting sounds just like one in reality that is reported about in the newspaper or recorded for YouTube. The religious, conservative, right-wing, parents of Wahredua accuse the Language Arts teacher who introduced the book into the curriculum of grooming the children and all sorts of ridiculous rumors, like litter boxes in the bathrooms, are brought up. Then a fight ensues and Somers the chief of police has to deal with his husband and foster son being arrested to top the night off.
It might have been humorous if it wasn’t so on par with the reality of the way the world is going. The parents who think that the school is indoctrinating children are instead stirring up a whole lot of fear and hate inside their own kids. While Somers is busy dealing with the protesters and the parents, Hazard is approached by the author’s daughter who thinks someone is trying to hurt her mom. I’ve probably said this in every other review, but the case is, of course, a lot more complicated than just a stalker. Hazard has the idea that it might even be a publicity stunt, until the author is found dead. There are plenty of suspects and I had my suspicions for sure. Gregory Ashe always provides a top notch mystery.
He also serves up a lot of angst and family drama. Colt’s behavior is being noticed by the foster care system, and he and his best friend, Ash, are kind of shaky right at the moment. Somers and Hazard don’t seem to be aggravating each other as much, but the way a local kid is being bullied just on the rumor that he is gay, is bringing back bad memories for Somers. I’m always so afraid for these two, even though they have weathered nearly every storm imaginable.
By the end of this book, I was once again feeling assured that things are going to be good for the couple. The title Final Orders refers to the final decision made by the court regarding the custody of Colt, and it seems in part like the journey of taking in Colt and being able to adopt him is at a close, but I have to say that I really hope there will be more to this series. I didn’t get that feeling of finality that I had at the end of the other series. So here’s hoping for that.
I can’t end the review without mentioning the side characters, whom I love. Hazard and Somers’ friends Dulac and Darnell seem to be going through some things, and Nico, Hazard’s ex and now employee, deserves a chance to shine. Also, the narration by Tristan James throughout this whole series has been spot on. I really feel like he embodies these characters so well. I really hope there is more to come, and highly recommend the book and series.
9.5/10 Pots of Gold (95% Recommended) – Compares to 4.75/5 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!