After being snowed in with a murderer, Hazard and Somers are back at work and trying to keep their lives on track. But a double date with Hazard’s boyfriend and Somers’ estranged wife makes for an uncomfortable evening. The evening gets interrupted, however, when Somers receives a call from his father and both Hazard and Somers are walking into their next murder scene. Although this case is much closer to home as the victims are Somers’ father and the daughter of high school friend. But the case makes little sense and there are forces at work to keep Hazard and Somers from finding out the truth.
The men have been told there is no case to investigate, but they know the truth is out there and work it on their own. As more clues are revealed, Hazard and Somers get closer to lies and conspiracy and cover-ups, not only with this case, but in the entire chain of command. They also are struggling with their feelings for each other and with each step closer to unraveling the case, old and deep wounds are constantly poked at as the tension and longing between the men reaches an all time high.
Paternity Case is book three of the Hazard and Somerset series and the books are designed to be read in order. While there is a new case here, there is also an overreaching arc of political as well as departmental corruption, along with the maddening, layered, frustrating, and tension-filled longing between Hazard and Somers.
The book opens with great banter between the two as Hazard and Somers have fallen into an imperfect routine as work partners and attempt a civil and social relationship as well. The series is billed as a mystery series and the cases are a driving force behind all of the books. There is plenty of murder and corruption to be found in their small town and the men are both dedicated to getting answers. Here, the action is extremely close to home as Somers’ father, as well as the daughter of a childhood friend, are both victims.
The case takes the men through so much of their past history and has them confronting their history with each other, as well as the many long-time town residents. Hazard travels through his hometown and remembers the scared boy he used to be and how the residents tormented him for being gay. Not much has changed with the attitudes of the town residents and the treatment Hazard endures daily is difficult to watch. While Hazard is no longer a scared boy, he has so many scars that run deep. Somers has a past as well and when the case centers around a former high school friend, Somers has a lot to face down while still trying to solve a case.
Somers, however, is bolder and braver than he was as a teen and he’s at the point where he doesn’t care who knows about his feelings for Hazard, yet he can’t quite tell Hazard what he wants. Somers thinks Hazard will always see him as the former bully and the longing on both sides is intense, layered, and tightly woven throughout the entire story.
The men work well together and each bring something to the investigation, yet the bad guys still get that jump on them that is all too common in police procedurals. While not all of the actions added up for me, I was still riveted as the tension and action arced higher as the men got closer to solving the case.
They still have not solved the longing between them. Hazard is technically still with Nico, although the problems are increasing, and Somers feels trapped in his marriage, although he is mostly still estranged from his wife. The next book should be the turning point, however, as murder will once again find this small town, but Hazard and Somers could truly find each other as well. This is definitely a recommended series if you are looking for a murder mystery to take the main lead with a strong and complicated relationship between two men with a long and difficult past to run parallel.