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Publisher's Summary

It all starts to go wrong at the shooting gallery. Emery Hazard and his boyfriend, John-Henry Somerset, just want to enjoy the day at the Dore County Independence Fair. At the shooting gallery, though, Hazard comes face to face with one of his old bullies: Mikey Grames. Even as a drugged-out wreck, Mikey is a reminder of all the ugliness in Hazard’s past. Worse, Mikey seems to know something Hazard doesn’t - something about the fresh tension brewing in town.

When the Chief of Police interrupts Hazard’s day at the fair, she has a strange request. She doesn’t want Hazard and Somers to solve a murder. She wants them to prevent one. The future victim? Mayor Sherman Newton - a man who has tried to have Hazard and Somers killed at least once.

Hazard and Somers try to work out the motive of the man threatening Newton, and the trail leads them into a conspiracy of corrupt law enforcement, white supremacists, and local politicians. As Hazard and Somers dig into the case, their search takes them into the past, where secrets have lain buried for twenty years.

Determined to get to the truth, Hazard finds himself racing for answers, but he discovers that sometimes the past isn’t buried very deep. Sometimes, it isn’t dead. Sometimes, it isn’t even past. And almost always, it’s better left alone.

©2018 Gregory Ashe (P)2019 Gregory Ashe

What listeners say about Criminal Past

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

LOVVVE This Series

What a wrap-up on that first arc! PLEASE, do not miss this series from beginning to end.

I can't wait for some good sh*t to happen to Hazard and Somerset in the next one. can they have a nice honeymoon please?💜💜💜💜

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I didn't want it to end...

Knowing this would possibly be the final book for Hazard & Somers, I was dreading the end. The guys are really tested personally & professionally as secrets from the past come to light. Not for the first time, I found myself wondering why either man wants to even to live in that helltown. Anyway, I feel like this book ties up some loose ends and answer some questions I had about events and people from their past. It's hard to talk about without spoiling, so I'll just say there are awful characters who get what they deserve and some surprising revelations. I can't decide if this one is actually a little more violent than the previous books or if it just seems that way because so much of it is aimed at H&S this time (the fingernails! omg!). Although I can't say I'm happy that the series is over, I am happy with the ending itself. Hazard's vision for their future was sweet and hopeful and I'm just hoping the author will give us a 5 years later epilogue or something one day.

Tristan James does an amazing job as usual. I don't always love the voices he chooses to give side characters, but it doesn't take away from my listening enjoyment or anything. I do love how consistent he is throughout the entire series with his voices for Hazard & Somers. this book is almost 19 hours long and I didn't get bored or tired of hearing his voice so obviously I have to give 5 stars for narration.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

I loved this series, but then book 6 was born...

And I hated half of this book...which also cause my fascination with this series to sour a bit.

Minor Spoiler, so don't read this review if you who don't like to your mystery unveiled even by a little...

I gave the last book a really good rating because of how much I liked the story and characters progression from book 1 to book 5. I really do love Hazard and Somerset. Here however, I started hating them for their duo martyr complex. But that's not what had my brain boggling.

I knew this series had dark themes the moment I read the first book. I was all in for it - except here. Here, the author did something I didn't like, even cringed. I think Mr. Ashe pushed the envelop because this may be the last book in the series, I don't know. If it's not the last then I don't know what to make of this book's ending - unless Mr. Ashe comes up with an alternative way for Hazard to be back in the bullpen then I don't see a point in having a next book because the series is subtitled, "A Hazard & Somerset Series" and not "A Somerset Series". Of course there's always the alternative of PI or Consultant but again it'd take away from the purpose of this series.

Anyway my point is, though I still like this series enough, this volume had me going BLEH halfway through it. Here's the break down:

Beginning 40% of the book: Good story flow. Very intriguing mystery kick off. The usual Hazard brain storming and Somerset clues gathering. Really, it gets you hook right away. It really is damn good writing and makes you feel like you'll get to enjoy another riveting journey into Hazard and Somers' case solving again.

Middle 40% of the book: And this where it all goes to crap. As I said, maybe this is the last book and that could account for why the author did what he did here with the heightened grittiness - but damn Gregory Ashe got his head caved into some C-grade horror flick for this section of the book. It was over 10+ CHAPTERS of NO-STORY-PROGRESSION, where Hazard/Somers played a nearly-never-ending cat and mouse game with CAPITAL A$$HOLE psychopath redneck homophobic rapist Mikey Grames. To make matters worst, Mikey isn't even a worthy opponent - all he had going for him was his lunatic violence. Among all the antagonists, Mikey was the one with the least brains. I would have accepted the sick twisted Mayor as the active antagonist rather than him falling into the background as a vegetable in the hospital, or that Ozark bitch Naomi but she only has a brief appearance in here (and yes she's always as nasty as ever even when she only has a two-minute scene), or even Hazard's conniving former high-school somewhat-friend Hollis Walker but no, he gets killed off. These three could conjure up the most maniacal events. Hell, Hollis freaking engineered that whole damn bloody maze that Hazard and Somers fell into. But no. The author decided to make the low-life tweaker Mikey as the super-villain for 40% of this 18-hour book. And it was the violent, gory, slasher-horror-flick type. Thing is, gore/slasher stories are blackvoids. They don't serve a purpose other than to suck its audience into shock. Anyone can argue whatever they want, but in the end, we'll all come to agree that a majority of slasher and gore are "PWP but hey look we did entertain the shock out of you, right?" I wasn't entertained. In fact I got tired and my mind started wandering off during those chapters so I had to skim through the rest all the way to where that charade came to a close and where the story finally picked up again. All those chapters should have been edited to two or three well constructive gritty action-pack chapters. The long haul was utterly pointless and unnecessary because the thing is when I reached the end of the book, I was like "huh, that large portion of dragged-on violence had no bearings on the story or characters development. It didn't change/awakened/weakened the characters's state of mind in anyway. Really, It didn't do anything to them other than give them physical scars which eventually will heal with time.

Ending 20% of the book: The mystery set up was fantastic. The way it continually held my interest was great. The mystery revealed was a smart plot. After everything, the end was like the calming of a very violent storm down to a strong drizzle with a dark sky above them. Because the true victim, the one who suffered all the abuse, well that person never gets justice even when Hazard and Somers solve the case. It's not possible for them to pursue justice. It was intended of course. I don't think the author wants to solve his two characters. I think he likes them where they're at - raw and bare, like leave the healing for another day. Another time, somewhere down the road, or years from now. Which I don't mind. I think it's fine to just hang up your characters so they could dry off for a bit or a long while since they were put through a meat grinder of a maze.

Overall: I would have given this story high ratings but the dragged out large chunk was too much. It took much of the story and too much out of it with no payout. So no, 3 star is me liking the mystery and liking Hazard and Somers despite them being dumbasses sometimes. The five star is for Tristan James. The guy is a truly awesome narrator.


3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Hazard + Somerset 6

I am totally a Hazard and Somerset junkie!! These books are all sooo good. I love being able to lose myself with these two and what they get up to. This to me was the most intense of the series. It has so much heartache in it, and the amount of hurtful things that are drudged up and found out is just rough. Also, Hazard and Somerset are both put through the ringer both mentally and physically. A lot of players in this one do not make it out, and that is troublesome, but also it is relieving in some respects. I cannot wait to dive into the next series with them. It really is like visiting an old friend picking up these books, and while I would love to devour them one after the other, it is kind of nice to read them slowly/listen to them slowly, as there is a ton that happens and then you are able to recoup a bit before picking up the next. Tristan James is awesome on the audio per usual. He is Hazard and Somerset to the T, and that makes it even better. Thank you Gregory Ashe for writing this amazing series.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Intense...and good!

Gregory, I wasn't ready for the torture scene, but got thru it as you wound the story around and around. You have created another true novel that one must listen to and reason with and in some ways, fear. That makes for excellent writing. Congratulations again. You have impressed me again!

Tristan, they just aren't Hazard and Somerset without you! Bravo! Excellent job.

Listener, get ready...this is a ride...a good ride, a scary ride, a thoughtful ride, a confusing ride...but it pulls together and Gregory Ashe does it again. You could listen to this one independently, but I strongly recommend you get book 1 and keep on to the end. They are worth it.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great wind up to the series

This was a great rounding up and tiring off of all the threads from the series. This first chapter is done. Fortunately Hazard and Somerset will be back in another set of books. And fortunately Tristan James will be performing those too because he is beyond fantastic.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An amazing addition to a remarkable series!

A huge 5 stars for both the story and the narration. Hazard and Somerset is one of my all-time-favorite series, and book #6 concludes the first arc of this series in a grand way.

The MCs are flawed and oh, so likeable. Their bickering and snark are so much fun. I love being privy to their thought processes. They are a real joy!

The storyline is intense, raw and very difficult to set aside. This is a first class mystery beautifully enhanced by Tristan James' stellar narration.

I'm thrilled that there are plans for additional Hazard and Somerset books! Can't wait!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This is REALLY intense

At times, you honestly doubt our heroes can survive. Every time you think the suspense is ratcheted as far as it can go, it goes harder.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Surprise from the past

What do you even say about a book that manages to drag your emotions?

This book was a LOT. I feel so exhausted after binge-listening to the audiobook. But the series really comes full circle with this one. The series started off with Emery Hazard returning to his hometown to finally set to rest what happened to his first love as a boy of 16. What happened to Jeff Langham has never been far from Hazard’s thoughts. Not even 20 years later.

This series had a lot of moving parts, but somehow it always came back to a company called Innovate Midwest and the mayor. Hazard and Somers long suspected the mayor had tried to get them killed and in this book, the mayor decides he wants to hire them as his protective service against a possible angry ex-employee.

For the longest time, I didn’t understand how all the characters tied together. Hollace was an unexpected addition, because I don’t recall him being mentioned in the previous books before when Hazard and Somers’s past in high school were brought up. No, he seemed like an addition to push Mikey in a direction to move the story forward.

And that’s okay, because this wasn’t a short book by any means and we got time to find out more about the past and the boy Hazard once was.

This book really is a tough read. I could have done without some of the more graphic descriptions about certain things but I think this book wrapped up this series arc satisfyingly, since we know the second arc to Hazard and Somerset is coming soon. Hopefully, a bit more lighthearted and not so utterly drenched in angst. I love a good angsty book as much as the nice person, but I NEED A BREAK. Reading Orientation by Gregory Ashe was a nice one, but maybe I just want to see Hazard and Somers be reactively happy for ONE book, you know?

Major props for Tristan James for managing to crank out this audiobook so quickly after the fifth audiobook came out! I wasn’t expecting the audiobook for a few months and his narration for this series has been top notch and so worth waiting for! I hope he gets to stay on for the next arc of books for Hazard and Somerset because I couldn’t imagine anyone else voicing their characters!!

My favorite moment might be when Hazard goes to Somers’s father to basically demand that he needs a new car to drive and he gets handed an Aston Martin?? And then Somers’s is all like, ~I never even got to drive that before because it’s literally my dad’s favorite car.~

I will say the depiction of mental illness in this book is not great. And by “not great” I mean it’s really bad. Instead of trying to find help for the guy, everyone just sort of thinks he’s hopped up on drugs again and thinks the worst about him when in reality he just caught up with the wrong sort of people for digging into the wrong person’s past.

Also bad rep is the one time we get a biracial character who is half-Black. He’s seen as manipulative and cunning and that’s just sad when we have almost no POCs in this series that are good and, oh, I don’t know, wind up surviving the series. HAVE BETTER REP, PLEASE.

So. We need to talk about trigger warnings, y’all. THIS SERIES? And most especially, this book needed trigger warnings. The previous books already gave a look into some things but this one really went further than any of those books. I’ll try my best to list out what I can.

Trigger warnings for homomisia, fatphobia, bullying, mentions of suicides, very graphic and detailed mentions of rape, mentions of sexual assault, mentions of a dog being killed, blackmail, very graphic torture scenes, sex trafficking ring of underaged kids and teens, drug use, emotional manipulation, abuse, ableism, racism, and mentions of sex with a minor.

Overall, this is a fine finale for this arc of the Hazard and Somerset books. There is a nugget planted at the end at what’s to come. The person running for mayor? That could be a horror story. So, I’m excited to see what’s next for Hazard and Somers and I’m crossing my fingers for them to get a well-deserved vacation.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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What a thrill-ride!!! 😱❤️😱❤️👏👏👏

What a way to end a series!

A nail biter! This one made me squirm, and not in good ways.

Once the action got going, it NEVER LET UP!! NEVER!
This book just about slayed me!

This is the most gruesome book of the series.
It’s also the most revealing: we finally find out about Jeff—Hazard’s first love & the reason he came back to Wahreuda.

As always, the dialogue and interaction between these two is amazing. The narration by Tristan James is spectacular.

And while I’m sad this series is over, I’m happy to know that I can dive into Emery & John-Henry’s second act in the next series, A Union of Swords.

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  • nikki
  • 08-29-19

Didn't want it to end....

Knowing this would possibly be the final book for Hazard & Somers, I was dreading the end. The guys are really tested personally & professionally as secrets from the past come to light. Not for the first time, I found myself wondering why either man wants to even to live in that helltown. Anyway, I feel like this book ties up some loose ends and answer some questions I had about events and people from their past. It's hard to talk about without spoiling, so I'll just say there are awful characters who get what they deserve and some surprising revelations. I can't decide if this one is actually a little more violent than the previous books or if it just seems that way because so much of it is aimed at H&S this time (the fingernails! omg!). Although I can't say I'm happy that the series is over, I am happy with the ending itself. Hazard's vision for their future was sweet and hopeful and I'm just hoping the author will give us a 5 years later epilogue or something one day.

Tristan James does an amazing job as usual. I don't always love the voices he chooses to give side characters, but it doesn't take away from my listening enjoyment or anything. I do love how consistent he is throughout the entire series with his voices for Hazard & Somers. this book is almost 19 hours long and I didn't get bored or tired of hearing his voice so obviously I have to give 5 stars for narration.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Glynis
  • 08-02-19

OMG - it's finished!

I am heartbroken that we have come to the end of the series (for the moment!) I have so loved the full series. I think you need to read ALL the books to 'get' Hazard and Somerset. You can't start half way through (but then - why would you!) The whole series shows their development (literal enemies to friends to lovers)

The final book was excellent as always with Gregory Ashe doing an amazing job in tying up all the loose ends (with some surprises!) . No spoilers I am afraid. It was a bit darker then the others in the series and the middle did drag a little (although that didn't bother me too much)

Tristan continued his great work with the characters. Loved the characterisations. Really brought it alive. One of my fav narrators

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs. E. J. Curtis
  • 07-08-20

Good story

The concept is interesting and well written. The characters are likeable and the narration is good.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • S. Brown
  • 11-11-19

Best series I've read in a long time

I love this series and look forward to the next book, which is coming out at the end of Nov 19. Really looking forward to seeing how Hazard and Somers navigate their relationship now that Hazard has made the decision he did at the end of this book (no spoilers).

I did balk at the horror show that was effectively the last quarter of this book, hence the four instead of five stars I wanted to give the whole series. How many injuries do you expect your MCs to sustain, Mr Ashe before they effectively turn into gibbering wrecks!? Hazard turns up in the hospital at the end of every book like it's a right of passage (bit like the Hogwarts Express home each academic year!). Somers is right there sharing the same hospital room this time, instead of sitting keeping watch. I certainly won't be visiting the US Mid West anytime soon as half of a same sex couple. Even with writers licence, there is a lot of insight into the civil factions represented in this series.

All that said, I enjoyed the writing style and laughed out loud at the banter between the two MCs, or rather Somers' banter and Hazard's harrumphing grumpy responses. Quite masterful! The plot was complicated at times but kept my mind working all through the books, and the tangled relationship of the MCs just added to the angst and mystery of the sub-plots.

I did find the slow-burn of the earlier books frustrating but considering the short time that was covered by all six books, I felt that was justified in the end. I also liked the fact that each book centred around a significant date, and covered only a few days around it, making each case fast paced to counter act the personal relationship going on in parallel.

Just started the Off Duty book on kindleunlimited, LOL moments there with this collection of connected short stories. I would be looking at Shaw and North series on audio if it weren't for the new narrator, perhaps I'll try them with Kindle instead. A real shame Tristan James isn't doing those books also, he is an excellent voice for Hazard and Somers, I've listened to him before, and would highly recommend his style. Mr James' distinct individual voices kept me going when I was at my most frustrated with Ree and John Henry, (and Nico - eye roll - so immature). Many thanks for keeping me going, it was well worth finishing this series.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Audiophile
  • 11-07-19

superb

I am totally enamoured by this series.
I love the interplay between Hazard and Somers

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • WallE
  • 10-20-19

Is this the end?

If this is the end we have a fitting finale.
Gregory Ashe is great storyteller who does not shield you from the truth and in Tristan James he has found the perfect narrator to take Hazard and Somerset to a kind of peace.
I have enjoyed this series but it is not a series for the fainthearted.

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  • Ed
  • 09-03-20

A summer hazard

A fairly good story, well narrated. Glad it’s the end of the series. Crikey, with all that was going on between them it’s a wonder anything turned out ok. Very graphic violence and language. Made my head spin. Now for something easy to listen to.