Gregory Ashe

Books: Mystery | Queer

Hazard and Somerset: Pretty Pretty Boys (2017), Transposition (2018), Paternity Case (2018), Guilt by Association (2018), Reasonable Doubt (2018), Criminal Past (2018)

Hazard and Somerset

Pretty Pretty Boys (2017)

Emery Hazard is given the choice of being fired or being sent home to join the Wahredua police force. Emery decides to take the opportunity to discover what really happened to his friend Jeff Langham, who died when they were in high school.

Once, after escaping from his house, he had walked the MP lines at night, and it had been so dark that he couldn't see his hand in front his face. Then there had been a single light in the distance, and the rumble under his feet, and Hazard had leaped clear of the tracks just before the train rushed past. As soon as the light was gone, the blackness returned, broken only by the sparking wheels along the rails. That was the night he had known he was alone in the universe, and he'd known that he, Emery Hazard, was the only one responsible for himself.

What he doesn't want is to deal with his tormentors from high school.

Except that one of those tormentors is now his partner.

John-Henry Somerset was the prom king and loved by everyone in high school. But he deeply regrets how he and his friends treated Emery Hazard, and hopes that he can apologize for what happened.

He also hopes that Emery will be able to help the department with the recent LGBT crimes that have hit the small Ozark college town.

You know she said the street signs should be white? Not green. They've got green street signs everywhere I've ever been, but Bruer says they should be white. Represents purity.

The story was interesting, and I wanted to know what had happened between Emery and Somers when they were teenagers (as well as what had happened to Jeff).

Be aware, the story is dark. Bad things happen, including the discover of a past sexual assault. And both Emery and Somers are really screwed up.

The past stayed with you. The past was like poison, and it built up in you like poison, like lead in your tap water, until it killed you.

People couldn't forget, not the really awful things. They carried the past with them, sharpened it like a knife, and when you weren't looking, when you least suspected it, they cut your heart out.

That wasn't a problem for me, but it is dark.

My problems with the book were that it needed a solid editor and copy editor.

"You can find whoever did that shit to Nico's garage," Nico said.

"That's what Nico told us, right? That Chendo was cheating on him. That's why they had that big fight. That's why Chendo was moving out of the house when we showed up."

I'm still not clear whose house it was.

There were lots of little mistakes like that which were very distracting, since they took me out of the story as I tried to figure out just who was where with what.

It certainly wasn't a deal-breaker, since the book was inexpensive. Nor was it that surprising, since the book was self-published. But it was distracting, and if things like that bother you, this story is NOT for you.

But I did buy the next book in the series.

Rating: 6/10

Transposition (2018)

Emery Hazard and his partner, John-Henry Somerset, are a mess.

"I'm making steak a lo pobre. And potatoes. And salad."

Stomach rumbling, Hazard said, "I'll take the first two."

"And a salad. I've seen your refrigerator. Do you and Somers even own anything that grew in the sun?"

"Does hamburger count?"

It's almost Thanksgiving, but Somers takes the last call of the day, which ends with Hazard and Somers trapped in a mansion. With a murderer.

If these books were not self-published and inexpensive, I'd be screaming louder about the editing.

Or more accurately, the lack of editing.


Yet the story is so good I can't stop reading, even as I'm going back and trying to figure out continuity errors.

But only one thing really really pissed me off, and that was Hazard getting concussed, and Somers making him go to sleep.

Seriously. Who in the world doesn't know that you keep someone awake after a concussion, at least if you want to be sure they wake up again?

Both Hazards and Somers are badly damaged, which keeps me from hating Somers. Even as I want Hazard to Stay. Away.

Rating: 6/10

Paternity Case (2018)

So. Many. Editing errors.

And yet: I keep reading.

First, I really really like Nico.

"You could have helped him."

Somers gave Hazard an indignant look. "He's right. You could have helped me."

"Nobody can help you... Emery, will you please iron his shirt?"

"Hell no."

"Emery Hazard."

"He's a grown man. He can iron his own damn shirt."

"I don't know how to iron my shirt," Somers confided quietly to Nico.

"That's the most pathetic thing I've ever heard," Hazard said.

There are problems with this story. First, Emery apparently suffers from movie injuries. He may end up in the hospital, but he's back on duty magically quickly: Shot? Hospital then back to work. Concussed and beaten up? Hospital then back to work.

No. Bodies don't work like that. He'd be suffering side effects–especially from the concussion.

Yeah, he's tough. But we get to see things from his POV, and he's not popping pain killers and he's not suffering from headaches. That's not tough–that's completely unrealistic.

But yet: I continue reading.

Probably because although the injuries magically get better, and the paperwork is magically glossed over, the need for proof remains, and they don't have–and can't get–the proof the need to take down the mayor and the bad cop.

But let me tell you, if Hazard dumps Nico for Somers, I may not forgive the author.

Rating: 6/10

Guilt by Association (2018)


Lots of things that irritated me in the previous book were fixed here with a vengeance.

(H)e'd suffered from periods of severe headaches. Over the last six weeks, bruises and abrasions had healed; the gunshot wound to his shoulder and the deep slice across his palm had closed; but the headaches, although they had grown less frequent, persisted. And tonight, they were persisting like a bitch.

And as much as I like Nico, he actually did an excellent job with the issues that Nico and Hazard had–issues that were NOT mentioned in the previous books, even if they were there.

"I meant he's not the kind that likes jealousy."

"I'm not jealous."

"You beat up a guy for kissing your boyfriend."

"I didn't beat him up. You make it sound like I'm in eighth grade."  … 

"Not everybody likes jealousy. Some people get off on it. Some don't mind— they might appreciate it, but they aren't looking for it. And some people don't like it. Hate it, even."

And take this bit.

"You want to know why I like Nico? Because he's nice to me. Because he cares about me."

It's why I like Nico, but that's is not enough for a lasting relationship.

I was worried that the relationship between Nico and Hazard was just going to end, conveniently, but the story pointed out the deep-seated issues between the two–nevermind the fact that both were coming out of relationships that ended badly.

The mystery was also good. The sheriff has been murdered, and a lot of people were happy to see him dead–including Hazard. But a special prosecutor has been brought in, and he seems to have his own agenda.

As I said, the editing of this book was MUCH better, which made it a much stronger read. The relationships between Hazard and Somers has been interesting and compelling from the beginning, as have the mysteries. But the editing kept pulling me out of the story as I tried to figure out what was happening. That didn't happen in this story.

There is boinking in this book, so take that into consideration.

Rating: 7.5/10

Reasonable Doubt (2018)

Ugh again with the editing issues. Somers freaks out when he discovers a twelve minute phone call that Hazard will make a couple chapters later.

Years ago my husband and I watched Fight Club and Snatch, and after that we joked about only watching a movie if Brad Pitt got the shit beat out of him in it. (Which wasn't that difficult to do at one point.)

I'm kinda feeling like Hazard is Brad Pitt in this scenario: he keeps getting the shit beaten out of him. Every single book.

Yeah, he has a temper and is a physical guy, but, come on. He's been shot. Beaten up, including hit in the head and a giant gash in his hand. Hit in the head with a baseball bat. Has his already concussed head slammed into the floor.

So of course he gets beaten to hell in this book as well.

It wouldn't be quite so noticeable if Somers wasn't getting away without a scratch in every book.

This isn't to say the story was bad–it wasn't. I mean: still reading here. But the giant editing errors are annoying, and Hazard always being a bloody mess is starting to get a little old. As is his temper; I have to wonder whether a real cop could get away with some of the shit he pulls.

So, the positives: Somers is finally spending time with his daughter, who he adores. And Hazard has NO IDEA how to deal with the kid.

Hazard wasn't entirely sure about how babies worked. He understood the biology and physiology of reproduction. He'd seen a few documentaries on childbirth. If worse came to worst, he could probably get a woman through an easy labor. But the rest of it— were children like cats? Was there some toddler equivalent of catnip that Somers had sprinkled in Hazard's pockets?

No kiddy catnip equivalent, but there ARE people that kids are drawn to. I'm one of those people. And I remember adults like that when I was a kid.

She yanked a fat volume and held it up questioningly.

"That's James Joyce."

One pudgy hand folded the book open. She grabbed a page. With a sudden, vicious cry, she tore the page free. Then her big, dark eyes cut towards Hazard.

He shrugged. "Nobody will even notice."

So the story is that a religious figure is murdered, and everyone seems like they should have good reason to kill him.

Interestingly, there is a fair amount about religion here, with Hazard (of course (but justifiably)) reacting badly to it.

"I just can't think straight when I'm around that kind of stuff. God, Jesus, all that. I'm back in that shithole again. And I know, up here, that it isn't all the same. I know about Mother Theresa and I know about people, good people, who are religious. But then someone opens their mouth and it doesn't matter what my brain says."

Somers deals with it a little better.

"You two call it a night. I'll stick around and see if the river turns to blood or wine or whatever the hell it's supposed to."

"If it turns to wine," Somers said, "call. No matter what time. If it's blood it can wait, but if it's wine, just keep calling."

So the mystery was interesting, and I couldn't stop reading, but the editing issues are bothersome.

Luckily, I've got two pre-orders that just came in, so good for me.

Rating: 7/10

Criminal Past (2018) 


The hell?

The previous books needed an editor to a level that was annoying, but not insurmountable.

This book? Holy shit–it was all over the place, and none of it was good.

First and foremost in the bad: Out of nowhere, we suddenly have chapters–as in more than one–of one of the main characters being tortured.

Detailed descriptions.

Multiple chapters.


All the nos.

In book six you suddenly pull out pages and pages and pages of torture? What the hell is that even ABOUT?

Then there are the issues that existed in previous book, but were magnified here.

Character Inconsistencies: Throughout the series, Hazard's scar shifts between his stomach and his chest. It continues to do so here. This is not a small point, but the heart of his bad past with Somers.

"We'll be lucky if Cravens even puts a token officer there. As far as she's concerned, as far as anyone is concerned, (shooter) is dead."

Except that the shooter had been ID'd as a black man–on multiple occasions–and the dead man was white, and incapable of the shooting.

Medical Ridiculousness: Hazard has a bad arm at the start of his book. It causes him pain and keeps him from doing multiple regular activities. Yet somehow Hazard manages to drive a stick shift? And then Hazard's OTHER arm is broken and he is STILL driving. With one arm supposedly useless and the other in a cast. He can't tie his shoes, but he can manage to drive a car and can SHOWER by himself? There's more, but that's the most egregious.

Procedural Shenanigans: I'm on the weakest ground here, and I don't know police procedures for certain. However. This is NOT set in the Victorian era. This isn't the Prohibition era. It seems highly unlikely that after being shot a police officer is allowed to remain on duty for the rest of the day. It seems unlikely that a police officer with a significant disability remains on active duty and is not relegated to desk duty. It seems even MORE unlikely that an officer involved in a shooting–in killing a suspect–would remain on active duty.

So which is it going to be? Are you going to sit behind a desk because you're still dealing with trauma? Or are you going to solve a murder?"

"That's not fair."

I don't care HOW small the police department is, there should be an investigation. Counseling. Not returning the gun to the cop and sending them immediately back out on duty.

And I also find it INCREDIBLY unlikely that any law officer would sit for DECADES on a case of child prostitution, no less law officers in two separate departments. Yeah, I can see a corrupt department covering up for bigwigs, but not a federal agent. Not for some podunk small town.

And then, as I said, the editing issues. Whole chapters ramble on and cover the same ground again and again. I'm pretty sure at least half the book could have been pared down (and that's without the gratuitous chapters of torture).

I was willing to let the issues of the first five books slide, because they ARE self-published and one expects issues and errors. But this is book six, and there are so VERY many problems that the entire series now is pretty much ruined because this book is so utterly terrible.

If you would like to read this series, books one through five are fine. But this? This is so maddening I just want to yell and use every negative adjective I can think of.

Rating: 2/10