Criminal Past is the sixth book in the Hazard and Somerset series. The books are intended to be read in order as the overall storyline builds from one book to the next.
Detectives Hazard and Somers are looking forward to spending the day at the county fair, but seeing Mikey Grames, an old high school bully, fuels the nightmares of Hazard’s past. Even with the effects of extended drug use, Mikey can still unfurl fear in the men, and Mikey’s taunts are relentless. Mikey also seems to have his finger on the pulse of the tension in their small town and doesn’t want the men to forget it.
Hazard and Somers are put on a new task. The Chief of Police wants them to prevent a murder as the life of the town mayor is being threatened. The same mayor who wanted Hazard and Somers dead. But nothing is as it seems in town and the corruption and conspiracy are reaching the breaking point. Hazard thought he came back to town to confront his past and make peace with it, but there may be no peace to be had as twenty-year old secrets can never truly be buried.
After six books, you might think that there would be a possibility of this series slowing down, but Ashe seriously ramps up the intensity, the tension, and the violence, and this book, which draws on every single thing that came before it, just might be my favorite in the series.
The structure of the book is amazing. Ashe planted the seeds all throughout the series, going back to the scenes of book one. There were plot lines and details I had picked up on, and while there were few surprises for me here, it did not detract at all from watching Hazard and Somers chase down this story.
If you have followed the series, you’ll know that Hazard is still tormented by the death of his high school boyfriend, and the cases that Hazard and Somers have worked since Hazard has been back in town have been pushing Hazard hard to break open the conspiracy that runs deep through their town. It’s the kind of corruption that will regenerate itself, which is something Hazard will learn by the last chapter.
The imagery in the chapters are incredible, as we see what the men see and the suspense is unreal. Chapters go by with the intensity building and building as we get point of view from both men, and it is expertly drawn out. Both men have a lot of issues to deal with and it has all been so well layered throughout the series. There really are no issues that the men should be dealing with on their own as their pasts are forever tied to each other. Yet, that doesn’t make it any easier for them to completely let the other in and a lot from the past has to be dealt with for the men to move forward. And both Hazard and Somers know they want to move forward together.
There is more violence and injury to be seen here and it’s not easy reading at times. While the men do both suffer physically, they rarely took a rest and were checking themselves out of the hospital with significant injury only to continue on with their investigations and, at times, their incredible stamina was less than believable, but it kept the story moving at a rapid pace.
The ending was perfect and offered a rare glimpse of hope for the men as they look forward to their future. There are many parts of these books that work best in the context of the series and the way the author connected the entire story was incredibly well done. This series offers an intense enemies to lovers storyline worked into uncovering deep corruption within a small town and Hazard and Somers are characters that I will remember for a long time.