Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Gregory Ashe - Guilt By Association

Everything in Emery Hazard’s life is finally going well: his boyfriend, Nico, is crazy about him; he has a loyal partner at work; and he has successfully closed a series of difficult murders. By all accounts, he should be happy. What he can’t figure out, then, is why he’s so damn miserable.
After a fight with Nico, Hazard needs work to take his mind off his relationship. And someone in town is happy to oblige by murdering the sheriff. The job won’t be easy; the sheriff had enemies, lots of them, and narrowing down the list of suspects will be difficult. Difficult, but routine.
The arrival of a special prosecutor, however, throws the case into turmoil, and Hazard and Somers find themselves sidelined. With an agenda of his own, the prosecutor forces the case toward his favorite suspect, while Hazard and Somers scramble to find the real killer. As the people they care about are drawn into the chaos, Hazard and Somers have to fight to keep what they love--and to keep each other. To find the killer, they will have to reveal what each has kept buried for years: their feelings for each other.
And for Hazard, that’s a hell of a lot scarier than murder.

Comment: This is the fourth installment in the Hazard and Somerset series by Gregory Ashe. Since I have enjoyed the others, of course I'm keeping up with the series.

In this story, the two detectives once again see themselves in the middle of a tricky case to solve. The clues seem to be lacking an obvious connection but they are determined to learn who would want to murder the sheriff. As the investigation develops, new characters come to light as having a motive to cause harm, but how to prove it? At the same time, Hazard is debating on whether to break up with his boyfriend and Somerset feels his marriage might not be salvageable. Could it be that this time they will finally talk?

Once again, I'm marveled by the author's ability to come up with details for the investigation of the crimes he invents in his plots. I think it's safe to say this isn't as complex as other writers might have done in the past and it's not as far fetched as some of the most ingenious plots have been, but as a whole, I think it's safe to assume, most of the details and reasoning are well thought. Still, I saw some comments on how the crime wasn't really well done but I can see someone who breathes crime books might think so.

This to say that, for me, this turned out to be a clever murder investigation, with plenty of distractions in between for us to wonder about who could have done it or, like in my case, to simply enjoy the ride as the new information comes to explain the whys and hows. In this regard, the death of the sheriff certainly fixes some loose ends from previous books but the reason for his murder wasn't as black and white as that. I think the author did an effort to make things go smoothly, even though there were scenes which felt a little repetitive and too focused on the drama instead of the practicality.

However, this book is well liked for most readers of the series for a completely different reason. By this fourth installment, we finally have the protagonists talking and sharing some sincere thoughts, which leads them into a mutual compromise. I, for one, was very glad to see where things went and by the end of the book, I was feeling very happy, indeed.

It's true Hazard and Somerset evolve as each book comes along but that is a very, very slow process and it seems as if the author delays progress on purpose. On one hand, I assume because his style is to highlight the tension and the dramas, but it's also certainly convenient to keep the series ongoing too.

Their personalities are different, true, but in the end they are quite alike in terms of values and behaviors, even if their roads in life were different. I can imagine that part of the next books will be how they deal with their new status and how they will deal with the secondary character's opinions and what role do all those people play in the big scheme of things. There are enough loose ends yet to be fixes and I hope the author goes on a good direction with all this because if there was a bad decision would be to complicate what is now being solved...

This is a positive book for me but mainly because I have the background of the other books. I don't think it's a good idea to randomly start with this one. For real, this is one of those series better read in order. Next month I'm reading the next and I hope it is good.
Grade: 8/10

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