Rating: 4 stars
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Emery and John-Henry never get a chance to breathe before another murder happens in their small town. This time it’s a double homicide in a hotel room and it’s suspicious that the two victims were together, as they were known to be enemies. Everyone wants answers from John-Henry, including his father, who is now mayor, and they want these murders solved immediately. John-Henry and Emery team up again to get the answers.
There are always roadblocks along the way and the men find doors closing at every tun. From the Ozark Volunteers, to the local gun show, to a home-grown fundamentalist church group, no one wants to talk to the police and everyone has something to hide.
Their home life is just as difficult, as their foster son, Colt, is reluctant to take any direction. Colt has also received a letter from his incarcerated, estranged, and dangerous father and Emery is worried about everything. So worried that he wants to keep Colt close to home and that only makes Colt lash out more. However, being at home is not that safe either and with a murderer on the loose, John-Henry and Emery have to work quickly to keep their family safe and together.
I always think of reading a Hazard and Somerset book as an event. The character development is rich, the stories are longer in length, and the relationship between Emery Hazard and John-Henry Somerset continually evolves. This book is not a standalone and relies on the many books that have come before it.
This series is focused on a current murder the men are investigating and this book follows that format and there are many murders in their town throughout this series. While we do spend time with the men on the job during their investigation, and we see them at home navigating family issues, there is little time with Emery and John-Henry just together on their own.
The investigation takes them to some familiar faces in town and then to ones we haven’t seen before. The format of the investigation remains the same as we have seen previously and that is where I have started to struggle with this series. The books are starting to be too similar and too predictable with the flow of the story and, while the scenarios are different, too much is becoming formulaic for me with the series.
The addition of Colt is also taking the series in a specific direction and not all of that works for me either. Emery is so rigid in his behavior and thought process and, while it used to be entertaining, it is now becoming overbearing. Colt was the one that sought to put himself with Emery and Hazard and, while he is a teen, he also makes things more and more difficult. Colt is always in trouble with Emery it seems and while we get more of Emery’s thought process later in the story, it becomes too little too late for me. Colt also gets himself into some dangerous situations in the series and how that is dealt with compared to teen growing pains situations is not balanced. Emery and John-Henry seem to grow further and further apart these last few books and there is little of that spark left that made them a fun couple.
If you follow all of Ashe’s series, you will see a familiar pair visit here with over their over-the-top shenanigans to round out the story. Ashe excels with this setting and he makes it easy to feel immersed in the lives of Emery and John-Henry and their small town with lots of crime and law breaking citizens. Ashe always pulls the final scene together on the relationship side, offering just enough to then make me want to see Emery and John-Henry again.