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Conspiracy Theory

Hamarsson & Dempsey #1
Narrated by: Michael Pauley
Length: 6 hrs and 42 mins
Categories: Fiction, Gay & Lesbian
4.5 out of 5 stars (46 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Years of grueling police work have left Niall Hamarsson jaded and disillusioned with life...although it’s likely he’s been that way all along. The last straw lands when the DA refuses to try a case Niall worked for years to bring to justice. Within hours he finds himself heading to the only place he’s ever been able to call home - a place he knows he doesn’t belong.

Mat Dempsey returned to Piedras Island after his father’s death. These days he’s Island County’s sheriff. He’s happy enough, even if moving home from San Francisco effectively forced him back into the closet. Mat’s well-ordered universe collapses when a local’s body is discovered floating in the cold waters of Hidden Harbor’s marina. All hell breaks loose in the community, and accusations fly...all coinciding with Niall Hamarsson’s return.

Niall and Mat have a history, and it’s not one Mat’s proud of. He owes Niall an apology, even if it means getting down on his knees. However, Mat’s first priority is investigating the murder before his community tears itself apart and he may have to ask the aloof Niall Hamarsson for help.

Push apart, pull together, yes or no...The chemistry crackles between them but will the two men be able to put aside their pasts and embrace a future?

Maybe.

©2019 Elise Hansen (P)2019 Elise Hansen

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A great first story in a new series

This is a great suspense story, with a nice romance happening, too. The characters, Niall Hamarsson and Matt Dempsey are both really interesting and full-fledged. I like how we, by knowing their past story, we are able to understand them.

The setting in a small town is a great choice, with its enmities set by events so far in the past that the present families might not remember the original reason for their present hate.

There are a lot of things happening, some of them relevant to the plot, other, no so much, but all of them add to a sense of urgency that kept me listening non-stop.

So, yes, this is a fantastic story, and I'll keep reading the series.

Yes, reading it. I'm sorry, but Michael Pauley almost made me gave up on it more than once. I simply find his narrative style annoying, with no truly feelings or subtlety in the tones. Henceforth, he is an automatic pass for me.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A wonderful mystery book!

The only complaint I have is that I want book 2 now! I can't bear to wait until spring 2020!
This book is a wonderful mystery, there's murder, secrets, deceipt, betrayal and grief. But there's also a close community, acceptance and finding new connections.
I must confess I have a thing for Viking-types, so gruff Niall was right up my alley, and Mat was definitely a great character, too!
This was the first time I ever read Elle Keaton, and if this what I have t expect from her other books, I'm hooked!
Michael Pauley is exceptional as always and makes every book he narrates just a little more special.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great Series Starter! 💗

Matt and Niall

A murder, conspiracy theorists stirring their brew, while local live stock are attacked by what some say is a mad wolf. With loads of speculation tossed around this small Pacific Northwest coastal community, Sheriff Matt Dempsey wonders if everyone has gone crazy, or if maybe the universe is out to get him. He questions the latter especially after discovering a crush from his past, one who was bullied and never quite fit in, and the town's dark horse, Niall Hamarsson has returned to the island.

This was really good, and an excellent series starter. It is a full on murder mystery/ thriller with the two MCs hammering all their adolescent kinks, and laying all their cards on the table while attempting to keep the town from imploding.

The town is a little like Twin Peaks meets Fargo, to me. There are plenty of quirky and eccentric townsfolk, some more "backwater" than others. Even though the place is hip and cool with its new green space laws and new younger people moving there making the commute by ferry to the mainland, it still has a lost in time feel to it. Like an amusement park left barren.

The world Keaton created was great, and the story has me hooked and ready for more. So many secrets, and skeletons reside in the closets of this town. I'm sure a few of those skeletons will be found by Niall and Matt before the series ends.

If murder mysteries and characters just strange and odd enough to remind you of people you know, light your fire, this book is the perfect tinder for you.

Michael Pauley narrated it, and knocked it out of the park! I hope he is signed on for the rest of the series. That voice, y'all...**sigh💕

**Warnings: mentions of past child abuse/ neglect/ abandonment, drug/ alcohol use, and murder.

This is also a slow-burn HFN, as I imagine we will see the MCs relationship grow into something in the coming books.

The Story: 4 🌟
The Narration: 4.50 🌟
Sharonica Stars: 4.25 ✨✨✨✨•✨

I received a complimentary copy of this Audio book in exchange for an honest review.⛄

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Adults Now & Changes

This is the first book in The Hamarsson and Dempsey Series. A great book with good writing. The plot was entertaining and it was steady throughout the book. I found the story and characters intriguing. The characters were developed and thought out. Mat and Niall are the MC’s of this book. This book was a bit predictable and in a few places in need of more detail. Its not full of sex it only has one event and I’m not sure that it was necessary. It didn’t improve or support the story. While I don’t mind sex in books for me it needs to have a reason other than “just because” I do like that this author worked on the story of the characters rather than filling it with sex. The narration was good it wasn’t monotone, and the characters had their own voices. I can recommend this book as a good read/listen and I can’t wait for the next book. I voluntarily read an advance copy of this book for an honest review.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyed this story of second chances

I really, really enjoyed this story of second chances. This is definitely a trope that is appealing to me, but add in the extremely slow burn and mystery, and I was hooked.

Both MC's were fiercely independent, which was even better to add to the intrigue as they started leaning on each other more and more. The murder case kept the story moving at a good pace and had me curious until the end.

Michael Pauley is a gifted narrator. I enjoyed all of his different character voices. I love it when you can immediately tell who's speaking without prompting and he definitely has this ability.

I will definitely be waiting on the next book in this series.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Enjoyed the chemistry and the mystery

I enjoyed the story here. The crime aspect was interesting and had some fun twists. The chemistry and backstory between the two leads kept me interested. I liked the relationship dynamic and the isolated-ish small town setting added to the fun. Great introduction to a series. Narration brought the characters to life well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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I loved this book!

I first read Conspiracy Theory back in October 2019 and I loved it. The audiobook, performed by Michael Pauley, was fantastic and brought back to mind how much I enjoyed this story and how much I really want the next one in the series. He really brought the characters to life for me and I hope he gets to do the next book when it comes out.

Below is a copy of my original review from October 2019.

This kept me glued to my ereader!

I became a fan of Elle Keaton's writing when I read her Accidental Roots series so I jumped at the chance for an early read of Conspiracy Theory, the first book in her new Hamarsson and Dempsey series. The story engaged me right from the start and didn't let go until I finished the book.

The story has mystery, suspense, an enemies to lovers vibe and a rescued dog. I didn't predict how some things unraveled in the story and that's the best kind of romantic suspense for me. Niall Hamarsson had a difficult childhood and his past has always haunted him; making him feel he doesn't deserve good things.

Mat Dempsey grew up on the same island as Niall but was a couple of years behind him in school. When Mat, as a teenager, began to realize he liked boys and not girls, Niall featured heavily in his fantasies. He kept tabs on Niall over the years and followed his career as a police detective.

After Niall returns to the island where he spent his teen years, a crime wave seems to follow him there. Eventually Mat realizes he needs Niall's help to get to the bottom of what's happening but working with his teenage crush is a bit like torture for him.

Conspiracy Theory has a satisfying HFN for Niall and Mat but not everything is resolved in this story. I'm not a fan of books with cliffhangers but, while there are unanswered questions in this one, I didn't feel like I was left hanging to the point where I was dying to know what happens next. That's not to say that I don't want to read more – because I definitely do – it just means that I was satisfied with where Niall's and Mat's relationship was left at the end of the story. The author says the next book is coming in the spring of 2020 and I'm looking forward to reading it.

A complimentary copy of this audiobook was provided to me but my review was voluntary and not influenced by the author and/or narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A murder mystery

This is a wonderful murder mystery, a good start to a new series but it doesn't really end. So if you need books to be nice and cleaned up by the end this isn't for you. BUT if you enjoy a who done it and what's going to happen next then this book is right up your alley. It's non stop from beginning to end.
This book had me engaged from the very beginning and not just because it takes place in the San Juan islands. It's well written with interesting characters that I want to know more about. I hope Hamarsson and Dempsey get their HEA. I can't wait to find out what happens next for them and the others on the island. It's definitely worth the listen and I recommend it.
Narrator Michael Pauley continues to do amazing work. He is definitely a favorite.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Conspiracy Theory

Thank you for the audio, I voluntarily give this book an honest review. Niall Hamarsson is a cop that leaves behind everything to go to where he could remember being simi happy. With a tragic childhood his grandparents home is where he wishes to be on the small island.
Matt Dempsey is the local sheriff, with a murder mystery and strange things happening around the island. Matt is pulled in two different directions one his job and the other Niall. Can the sheriff be the one to make Niall feel more than a robot? Michael Pauley is a amazing narrator, he gave this book that Detective vibe with his reading. Great job on Conspiracy Theory, once you get to know Hamarsson you just can't help be love the gruff inverted man thanks to pains from his past childhood. Can Dempsey see to the real man beneath the gruffness.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Stunning

This was soo good. Loved the chemistry between Niall and Matt. And when Niall gos back to the island were Matt is the sheriff and there is a murder to find the action beings . Loved it can’t wait for more.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Delano
  • 01-18-20

Brilliant Mystery had me on the edge of my seat

What a gem, loved this book from an author I never knew existed, I just wanted something to listen to for the evening. I loved that the mystery wasn’t all bullets flying and mad car chases. That the story was pulled along by the case and not the romance. And I did not predict the “who” done it at all! Seriously this is a great book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mari Cardenas
  • 01-02-20

Fantastic start to the series!

Niall is grumpy and prickly, understandably so after all he's gone through since he was a little kid. He suffered a traumatic experience before coming to live with his grandparents at Piedras island and then had to suffer through his schoolmates' bullying, so it makes sense that he escaped from it as soon as he possibly could, even if it took him away from the only home he knew. Now, disillusioned from his work as a homicide detective in Seattle, he's back at Piedras to try to fix his grandparents's cabin to live in it, but trouble might be following him.

Mat returned to Piedras after working at the SFPD for a while, where he was out and proud, to care for his mother after his dad died, and now that he's the island's sheriff, Mat is back in the closet. After all, there's no one there at Piedras that is worth coming out to his mother, so why bother? But when Niall Hamarsson returns to the island, he's wondering if perhaps it's time for him to finally make the effort, especially since his mom seems really taken with the gruff detective. However, there are a lot of things happening on the island and suddenly they're dealing with things that they haven't seen in ages, if ever and a lot of it seems to be somewhat related to Niall.

First things first, if you're looking for a romance, this book is definitely not it. But if you're looking for a well-thought police procedural story, with some mystery and suspense, some UST between the MCs and a slow-burning developing relationship that I can't wait to have more of in the next installments in the series, by all means, you're on the right track here with Hamarsson & Dempsey.

Add to that the amazing performance by Michael Dean (aka Michael Pauley) and Conspiracy Theory is definitely a book you don't want to miss out on. He nailed Niall's gruffness and Mat's more optimistic views, and managed to convey their explosive chemistry and the suspense of the case they were working on. Highly recommendable! I can't wait for more in this series!

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  • Sabbath
  • 12-30-19

Gritty and Gripping

I found Keaton's Conspiracy Theory absolutely riveting and engaging. I enjoyed the plot as well as the steam between both main characters. Dean's narration is truly gripping and enjoyable, a perfect fit.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Emma Burbidge
  • 12-27-19

The Sheriff and the retired Homicide Detective

Elle Keaton is new to me as an author, but I do love a good police thriller, and this one is narrated by Michael Pauley who is one of my all-time favourite narrators.
Having inherited his grandparents' cabin some years ago, Niall Harmarsson finally turns in his shield as a Homicide Detective after a gruelling last case, and returns to Piedras Island, and finds more trouble than he initially bargained for, bringing his to the attention of the island's sheriff, Mat Dempsey. The two men clash initially, but when Niall lends his expertise in homicide to assist in a murder case that is causing waves in the community, the two come together and their chemistry is undeniable.
Highly recommended Mystery/Thriller with Contemporary MM romance.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • KR Phoenix @ Books, Tattoos and Tea
  • 12-19-19

Interesting murder mystery

🌟🌟🌟🌟 4.5 stars
🔥🔥 Heat Level: 2.5 (a super slow burn)
🎧🎧🎧🎧 Narration: 4.5

Interesting second chance mystery/romance with more mystery than romance.

I was drawn in from the start and enjoyed the “who done it” accepts of this somewhat twisted and layered, murder mystery. I felt both male leads were really strong, bold characters. Each with their own flaws. I loved the small-town life and the colorful “townies”; some truly awesome characters! I really liked the crime-solving and mystery aspect and it did keep me guessing or at least going back and for on who the “bad guy” was that I was able to really enjoy the ride.

I felt for Niall and his harsh upbringing. I feel he’s a really good character we can learn more about and has great depth beyond what we’ve already witnessed. As I mentioned earlier the story is mostly ALL mystery and a bit of back and forth for Mat and Niall with them finally “coming together” in that last 7 minutes or so, so a very slow burn on the romance front but has left me thoroughly intrigued for what's next for this “crime-fighting” pair, so I’m looking forward to the next book as theses characters navigate these feelings and their connection further.

As ever Michael is awesome and I look forward to the rest of the series being narrated by him!!

Thanks for reading!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • choccygrl
  • 12-16-19

Slow-burn mystery

Slow-burn mystery story with a small town vibe. I actually enjoyed this once I got past the over-emotional delivery of the narrator. Of the two main characters I liked Matt but Neil was harder to get attached to, certainly until he got the dog. Matt is deep in the closet though until his attraction to Neil forced him out of it.
Overall an enjoyable story.

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  • Erryn Barratt
  • 12-16-19

A mystery and new series

Niall Hamarsson is a hardened cop with a reputation of being, frankly, unsocial. He does his job and he’s good at it. When he can’t get the District Attorney to prosecute a man he knows is guilty, he walks away from his life. He returns to Pietras, an island off of the Washington coast. He hasn’t been home in ten years and although his grandparent’s home is currently inhabitable, he plans to fix it up and perhaps even call the island home again. His memories of his grandparents is good. The rest of the island? Yeah, not so much.

Matt Dempsey is the sheriff on Pietras. He took over the post not long after his beloved father’s death. He left his job as a cop in San Francisco and came home to take care of his mom and watch out over the population of his favorite place in the world. And until Niall Hamarsson shows up, things have been pretty quiet. Now, all of a sudden, weird things are happening on the island, including the death of a young woman. Niall’s arrival may be coincidence but Matt has to look at all angles. When Niall is the victim of a crime, the two men reluctantly partner up to figure out exactly what is happening.

Neither man particularly trusts the other. Matt’s heard the rumors of Niall’s formative years before he came to the island and he was one of the many young boys who bullied Niall when he first arrived. Matt’s ashamed of what he did in the past and is, after a bit, willing to give Niall the benefit of the doubt. As the strange events continue, though, things become desperate.

I’ve always wondered what I would do if facing some of the bullies who went after me when I was younger. Girls can be vicious in their attacks, mostly verbal. I hoped Niall would be able to put the past behind him, but would have understood if he held on to a bit of the resentment.

This book has a strong mystery at its core. Something I followed avidly, wondering where it would go next. On top of it all, Matt is firmly in the closet and Niall has lived out and proud for years. He’s definitely not going back in the closet. Right? This book has an ambiguous happy for now ending that leaves itself wide open for the next book which I’m waiting for with anticipation. Part of me wonders what will bring the two men together. I mean, how much crime can there be on Pietras? Well, more than I would’ve thought, anyway.

Michael Dean (formerly Michael Pauley) is a brilliant narrator. Over and over he delivers solid performances and this one was no exception. I enjoyed this book immensely and can’t wait for the next one.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • alias11
  • 12-15-19

Intriguing slow-burn M/M murder mystery

This is a very interesting and intriguing murder mystery, with more focus on the case than on the romantic connection between the two male lead characters. In fact, the romance doesn't actually come near to fruition until the last ten minutes. There is plenty of sexual tension and denial, and internal dialog, but if you are looking for steamy scenes or sex, you won't find it here. Maybe in future books we will see the relationship between Niall and Matt develop more. This listen is mostly focused on the case. And what a case it is! Family squabbles, murder, arson, a cult, twists, turns, surprises, secrets, and plenty of false leads and red herrings. There were a bunch of puzzle pieces that just didn't seem to fit together, then the whole thing wrapped up a little too quickly and easily in the last two chapters. There are still a few loose ends that I hope will be taken up in future books.

The narration by Michael Pauley was great at bringing out the emotions and attitudes of the various characters.

I received a complimentary copy of this audiobook and am voluntarily leaving this honest review.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rebekah
  • 12-14-19

Really enjoyed

I really enjoyed listening to this book and got sucked into the story following all the intrigue and trying to work out how everything was intertwined. Also following the chemistry of Niall and Mat. I can’t wait for book 2.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Trio
  • 12-11-19

Spectacular Start to the Series, Pauley's Amazing!

From the very first page Elle Keaton'sConspiracy Theory had me completely and delightfully enthralled!

(I’ve got to preface my review by saying I listened to the audio version of this one. I’ve been a fan for a very long time, and I've heard Michael Pauley narrate a number of different genres, and this is, without a doubt, one of his finest performances!)

The story fascinating and I can't wait to see where this all goes from here. Clearly a continuing series, Conspiracy Theory doesn't end with a painful cliffhanger, it just wraps up with a "let's see where we go from here" vibe that makes me crave the next episode..., instead of wanting to shake my fist at the author.

A great mystery, fascinating characters, interesting location, and beautifully written Conspiracy Theory is a winner!

an audiobook copy of Conspiracy Theory was provided to me for the purpose of my honest review