Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Gregory Ashe - Transposition

Emery Hazard and his partner, John-Henry Somerset, have solved their first case together. The brutal murders that rocked the quiet town of Wahredua have been put to rest. Hazard, however, finds his life has only grown more complicated as he adjusts to his new home. Living with Somers, whom he has been drawn to since high school, makes ‘complicated’ the understatement of the year.
The turmoil of living together spills over when Hazard and Somers find themselves trapped by the weather in an old mansion and, against Hazard’s better judgment, sharing a bed. Strictly as friends, of course. Just when things can’t get any more confusing, the next morning brings a worsening storm--and a murder.
Cut off from the outside world, Hazard and Somers must face a clever, determined killer who is hiding among the mansion’s guests. Without backup, they can only rely on their wits--and on each other--to survive. And as the snow falls and the mansion’s guests continue to die one by one, solving the string of murders becomes secondary. First, Hazard and Somers have to survive.

Comment: This is the second installment in the Hazard and Somerset series by author Gregory Ashe. I liked the first book enough to want to keep reading, plus there's also the bait of wanting to see how the relationship between the main characters develops into a romance...

In this story the protagonists are about to leave for the Thanksgiving holidays when Somerset picks up a last minute call, forcing them to go to someone's house when practically everyone is already gone. On the way, they stop to help someone who isn't too friendly and they realize the roads have become rather dangerous. When they leave the caller's house, they see themselves in quite a complicated situation for the storm which was predicted was much more serious than anticipated and they can't leave the area because of blocked roads. Therefore, they take shelter in a close propriety, that Somerset happens to know more or less well and the people staying there welcome them to stay. The group is rather weird and they seem to be playacting some kind of murder game, but things become very dire when someone actually dies. Can Somerset and Hazard solve the mystery happening around them?

I think this story had a more atmospheric mystery being investigated than the first book. The plot of having people in an isolated area from the rest and without the possibility of immediate rescue/help is often used in crime books but it's not always easy to pull off. In here, I think the author managed to do a good enough work and let me tell you, there were several scenes that felt very creepy, not because this horror, no, but because I could picture the adrenaline while facing something scary and this happened in several moments.

The crimes aren't caused by anything special out of the usual motives, but the fact the cast of characters was unique and we got to know enough things about them and their lives made this feel quite well engineered...although I should say it did feel odd how some characters simply kept face while crimes were being committed and no one felt they could speak up... but to be fair, the isolation certainly got to them...

The atmosphere is very claustrophobic because it felt like things were happening so quickly and there was no room to escape. If the author aimed for this to be similar to those stories where people isolated somewhere were being killed, that was achieved, but the author's trademark on writing about people in such a way that things have to be kept secret starts to feel a bit...tiring. I say this because every time Somerset or Hazard asked questions or seemed to move a step in the right direction, something would be revealed and the process didn't feel as organic as it could. I mean, it was clear from the writing that the characters didn't reveal things because something had to be found later, not because it felt natural.

Still, that didn't ruin the reading experience for me. Especially because my main interest wasn't the crime investigation itself, no matter how I ended up liking most of it. What really drives me to read this is the dynamics and interactions between Somerset and Hazard. Obviously, the author wants to delay how the relationship develops and what would take one or two books in some cases, is being spread out in six if I saw correctly how many books the series will have.

The two have a past in common when Somerset was Hazard's bully in high school. Much of their interactions is now being measured by that and what it meant, but they have personal issues to solve, which I assume will be dealt with as the books went by. I believe this was a very traditional middle book where we are given hints about their feelings but it wasn't as desperately obvious as in the first book. I understand the delay and the idea of not putting all the cards in the table but I can't agree it always works out, even more so when Somerset (mostly) keeps flirting as if that is perfectly normal to do with someone who you aren't certain will want to reciprocate...

All things considered, this was good enough to make me want to keep reading the series and see if the final pay off will be really rewarding...
Grade: 7/10

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