• Father Complex

  • Hazard and Somerset: Arrows in the Hand, Book 4
  • By: Gregory Ashe
  • Narrated by: Tristan James
  • Length: 11 hrs and 31 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (92 ratings)

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Father Complex

By: Gregory Ashe
Narrated by: Tristan James
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Publisher's Summary

Having a father can be hard. Being a good one might be even harder.

The call-out for the double homicide, when it comes, is a strange one: two men gunned down in a motel room, no witnesses, no real clues. Even stranger, the men were enemies, and no one seems to know why they were in that motel room together. And stranger still, people won’t stop calling John-Henry Somerset, telling him he needs to find some answers—preferably nice, easy ones—fast. 

Hazard and Somers set out to learn what happened, but they quickly find themselves mired in shifting factions: the ultraconservative political machine of the Ozark Volunteers; a liberal activist group protesting the local gun show; a reclusive fundamentalist church; even a hint of Mexican drug cartels. The further they press their investigation, the clearer it becomes that the killer—or killers—wants something, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it. 

As Hazard and Somers struggle to find the truth, they face trouble at home as well. Their foster-son, Colt, has received a letter from his estranged father, the same man who attacked Colt and Somers in their home. Worse, Colt seems open to more communication, which leaves Hazard grappling with his fears for Colt and his helplessness against a world that seems to be conspiring to take his foster-son away. 

But when a pair of gunmen come after Hazard at home, two things are crystal-clear: He’s going to get to the bottom of these murders, and he’ll do anything to keep his family together. 

©2022 Gregory Ashe (P)2022 Gregory Ashe

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One day I’ll have to say goodbye, but. . .

. . . thankfully, today is not that day. I feel like I gush with each book, each review. And, well, they deserve it. Here’s this book’s gush:

I especially enjoyed the descriptive nature of all that was the gun show. I swear I was there and, yikes, I know some of those people. “C*cks for Glocks” snort!🤣

Ashe never steers us wrong with the mystery portion. If I was in some sort of literature class studying this book, I could write an essay on the father theme. The scene at Hazard’s mother’s home with Colt moved me to tears. I love, though, that the author is quick to insert humor to keep the reader from wallowing. And North and Shaw? Those cameos make me wish they were a permanent fixture in all the H and S books.

The narration by Tristan James keeps me from reading the actual books. He’s so perfect every time that I specifically wait for the audiobook version even though it kills me. So worth it though.

I’m such a fan of both that even though I am provided this audiobook by the author, I never can wait and BUY the books before the emails reach me.

1 person found this helpful

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Another Great Addition to Hazard & Somerset!!

Double murder
Multiple suspects
Colt and Hazard get into it. Again.
Kidnappings
Shoot outs
And a carnival

TW: no sexy times

Fabulous narration!!

1 person found this helpful

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Great story. Great narration.

Phew. This was another tough read/listen because the story is so well written. The conflict and reconciliation between parents and their children is a perpetual underlying theme in the Arrows in the Hand series. This book has some particularly emotional moments that result from both the conflict and resolution. Every disagreement Colt has with Hazard made want to call my dad a tell him, "I get it now. I still think I was right, but I get it".

This was a great addition to the series, and I was once again surprised by certain revelations. Even after all these books, Gregory Ashe manages to keep me off balance...

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Oh Hazard

Oh Hazard. It’s a good thing we all love you, cause I wanted to push you into a wall in this one.

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I can't get enough of this series

First, sorry but I have to squee a bit, because North and Shaw are here, and nuttier than ever *laughs*

And now... Argh! Parenthood! This arc is all about it. But it's also about repeating patterns, about fear driving your actions, about losing control and sabotaging yourself.

It was time for Hazard's issues to come into the foreground that's for sure. Nevertheless, I spent a lot of time being frustrated at his attitude toward Colt. Yes, Colt has his own issues and he has a lot of responsibility for how their relationship is going, but it's Hazard the one who keeps escalating the fights and making everything worst. His anger becomes unmanageable and it's not a pretty thing to witness. Somers is doing better and that's good because he can help his husband and his foster son to keep the bridges unburned. Because, seriously, the amount of anger in their household was becoming unsettling, and it's good that they are finally getting some work put into solving them.

The case, too, is rooted in parents-sons relationships and allows us to learn some background into Naomi's past and motivations, but also into Cora and Somers' relationship, into what drew them together and what, eventually, drag them apart.

I enjoyed a lot having Hazard and Somers working together, they make a great team and it's always a thing of beauty to watch their synchronicity.

Aaaand we still don't know what's going on with Nico! Because something is going on, that's for sure. But I love how he and Cora bonded over fashion *grins*

And things aren't going too well with Dulac and Darnell, that is also quite obvious, but I guess we'll have to wait until the next book to have a better insight into it.

So, yes, there is a lot of angst and heartache in this book (is Gregory Ashe, what did you expect?) but there is also a lot of healing going on and the characters are always evolving and growing. Nothing is magically solved, though. Small steps for everybody, and that's perfect because it feels REAL.

The mystery is complex and having our friends from St Louis meddling in it provides some absolutely hilarious moments and some relief from the dark tones of most of the story. I'm grateful for those breaks *laughs* I had my suspicions about who ended up being the real perpetrator but was absolutely shocked by the reasons for Naomi's involvement. And by Naomi's actions, in general. I can't say that I feel any sympathy for her, but yes, there is some kind of understanding and that is quite an achievement because I have consistently despised her since the beginning.

I'm impatiently waiting for the next book (the last in this arc) because, well, I want to see what happens next, of course, but also because I have decided that I need to go back and re-read all the books in this series from the beginning and that the moment to do it is when this part of the story ends. What can I say? I like to suffer *laughs*

So, my recommendation? Go! Go and read this book because it's fantastic. *please, try to act surprised**dies laughing*

EDIT: When rereading, I saw that I already knew what was going on with Nico, albeit in a very general way.

And I still don't care about Dulac, although I also see that the drinking problem was always present; I'm thinking he has never gotten over his stalkerish ways and that is that fact that's behind his behaviour. Darnell should have stayed away, he deserves better.

As much as I loved the mystery, and having Hazard addressing his anger, I think that what I loved the most in this book was the sense of team between Hazard and Somers, the almost magical way in which they work together; they both are at their best when investigating in unison. ♥

And well, this is the last book in the re-reading, just for now, of course. But I'll wait until the last one is in audio format (should have checked BEFORE beginning *facepalms*) to finish it.

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Unexpected twists and turns!

By the time I'm reviewing this book, I will have already read this book twice and I've come to appreciate this book even more the second time around. I am somehow still shocked by how the mystery ended in this all over again. It's just incredibly unexpected for the character(s) involved and I am still not over it??

I've liked the books in this story arc, but coming off the intensity that was the Keeper of Bees and adding a teenager into the mix, this story arc has always felt...different? Not in a bad way, but while you had overarching mystery plots in the first two story arcs, this one is more contained with mysteries in the books themselves while this arc focused more on parenting the teenager Hazard and Somers found on their doorstep. However, this book does bring back Hazard's inner turmoil angst. It's a lot. Not that Somers's pent up anxiety due to his new position as chief wasn't also a lot to deal with in the previous books, but there's something about a Hazard-focused book that makes my heart ache. This book made me cry three times? I love that for me.

It's really amazing that even after 15 books into the series (it really does not feel like that many books), Gregory Ashe still manages to put us and the characters through the wringer and I love that. I think what really sets this series apart from other romance/mystery books is that these books are broken up with a story arc where there's a clear beginning and end, even as we get more and more books into the series. And this way of storytelling definitely works better for me, personally, because I love clarity.

Content notes include homomisia, violence, death, emotional abuse, white supremecists, mentions of cults, Islamophobia, kidnappings, and grief over a parent/loved one's death.

There's a lot in this series that reflects what's going on in the world today, and this book is no exception. The book starts off with the murder of two men in a hotel room, and the two men are the least likely people to be meeting together in a hotel room. One is Naomi Malsho's fiancé (Landon Maas) who was a rising star of the Ozark Volunteers (described as a neo-Nazi-lite group), and the other is Zachary Renner who was the head of a gun safety program and very much clashed with members of the Ozark Volunteers. I'm not going to spoil what the name of the gun safety program is, but the fact that Palomo, and not Dulac, had to say it out loud to Somers is one of the most hilarious things in this book.

But anyways.

The Ozark Volunteers has been a huge menace this entire series, and Naomi is no exception. Naomi is Cora's sister and this would make her Somers's ex-sister-in-law. I think it's interesting where these books go with Naomi's storyline. When we saw Naomi last, she was uncharacteristically helping a family you wouldn't have expected her to get involved with at all. Then, in this book we see a different side of her? Don't get me wrong, I still hate her, but maybe this means she'll stop being a pain in everyone's butt and we won't ever see her again when it comes to the Ozark Volunteers? Who knows.

One of my favorite parts in this book is when Hazard is being totally awesome and pulls a page out of Taken. For someone who complains about action movies, and in particular about the Die Hard movies, Hazard could totally be an action hero. I think it's fun that he is also a big teddy bear with anxiety, and I love how he winds up with friends he never asked for but secretly likes. These not-friends-who-are-actually-friends (it's North and Shaw) turn up in this book and it's amazing. I think it's great when they meet Colt, because those scenes are hilarious. Hazard and Somers are also unlikely friends with Theo and Auggie, who I adore. I think it's fun that we get to see so much of Theo and Auggie when their books (the First Quarto series) takes place before Hazard's return to Wahredua and that series isn't done yet. At the time this book released, we've only read 2 of the 4 currently announced books in the First Quarto series.

There wasn't as much Dulac and Darnell in this book, and I'm curious where that story is going. Like, there are unresolved issues between them and I still wonder what caused Dulac to spiral and how and why they got back together, and where their relationship is going forward. I never understood how they could be together, but opposites attract and all that? Dulac never treated Darnell right, and Darnell loves Dulac too much for his own good. I'll be interested to see how all of this plays out, because I highly doubt that their relationship is all sunshine and rainbows so easily after the events of the last book. And there have been small moments we're able to glimpse that not all is well between Dulac and Darnell.

Then there's Nico. We don't see much of Nico in this book but he's still working through a lot of trauma from what the Keeper of Bees did to him, and his love life is in shambles. Despite how I felt about Nico in the first story arc and how he and Hazard treated each other, I've really grown to like Nico (much like Hazard has grown to like Nico and is hilariously overprotective of him like an overbearing best friend). I only hope Nico finds someone he loves and gets his own HEA.

And with Colt...I might be warming up to him? I don't know, he's a ball of teenage angst and half the time he's driving me up the wall like he is Hazard and Somers and it's a lot of emotions all the time. In comparison, I can see how Evie is easier to deal with. Godspeed to Hazard and Somers's neighbors, Rebeca and Noah, when they eventually have 6 teenagers to deal with in the future. I think what Colt has with his best friend Ashley is cute. I wonder where that's going to go in future books? Of course, the first time reading through these books I could see Colt and Ashley already having feelings for one another, but it was definitely on re-reads where it gets even MORE obvious how they feel for one another, even from the beginning. It's like a what-if scenario, like what if Hazard and Somers had been allowed to be friends when they were in high school? Or even more than friends? It eventually worked out for them obviously, but Colt (an outsider) and Ashley (a relatively wealthy kid) being able to be best friends and maybe something more, is so sweet.

So, like I said, this series has been going on for AWHILE, right? Sometimes I get so caught up in the mysteries and everything around solving the murders in a book that the book is over before I look back and realize there was no sex scene in this? It's very interesting what a damper to Hazard and Somers's married life getting a teenager has done. I guess we should say a prayer for Hazard and Somers's sake that they can find some time alone in the next book without having to worry about a teenager or someone else trying to interrupt them. There's a lot going on in this book and not having a sex scene doesn't take away from this book or their relationship at all. I just thought it was interesting that I didn't realize there was no sex scene between them before this book was over.

A minor thing to point out, but very significant nonetheless for anyone curious, is that this series has now caught up to March 2020 and we are fully ignoring a certain pandemic. I love that this series now exists in a universe where the pandemic does not exist and the story continues on like normal.

This audiobook is fantastic and Tristan James knocks it out of the park once again. Despite not being the narrator for the Borealis books with North and Shaw, I don't think there's really too much of a difference between his voices for the characters versus Charlie David's performance as those characters, and I love that. I have not listened to the First Quarto books yet, so I can't say how Tristan's performance as Theo and Auggie compare to J.F. Harding's performance for the characters in those books, but if there's any differences I think we could just chalk it up to a time difference between the books and Theo and Auggie are now a little older and might sound a little different.

I will say that the best part of the audiobook for me is when Hazard and Somers are doing their impressions of North? The whole "I'm North McKinney" scene and the way Somers keeps saying it is hilarious on audio and it's just might be my favorite moment out of this entire story arc.

I loved this book, and loved it even more the second time reading this. I can't wait to pick up the audiobook for Final Orders, which is the last book in this particular story arc. I'm sure it's going to have another explosive storyline, so I'm looking forward to see what happens!

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Book 4

ARC received. Review follows:

This book closes the Naomi circle. The reader met Naomi in the 1st book of the series, acknowledged her as a steady and formidable nemesis, despised her for her undiluted homophobia, and wondered how in the world could a woman become the head of a right-wing organization. Well, the book doesn’t answer these questions. It tells a freudian story of a little girl lost, looking for her dad, stumbling upon a sort of Prince Charming, losing all her illusions in one go, and stoning herself to all reason and emotion to become a conservative, or to make herself invulnerable.
The kernel of all Hazard and Somers book is the relationship between the two. The cases they solve are a background that allows the course of their entanglement, with some of the recurring characters bringing more to the story than others.
Cora - Somers’ ex-wife and Evie’s mom — was preeminent in the first books of the first series, and slowly waned from the focus ever since, with one major exception, when she was pictured as generously supporting Hazard at a time of great need. In this book, the reader gets to see Somers feeling sorry for Cora, while looking back at his former life in the closet. It’s an important piece of information for the entire arc, even if one might think that — given the measure in which everybody’s happiness still depends on Cora and her decision to remain in a small town — feeling sorry is not necessarily what first comes to mind. Why important? Cora was pictured as the first step of Somers’ rebellion, and their marriage an open afront to Somers’ parents.
Colt is as insufferable as ever, doing crazy stuff like leaving home without telling everyone, trying to reestablish to some extent the relation with his father. Meanwhile, Hazard is taking the first step on the path to Zen, trying to manage his emotions, to communicate with Colt without anger, as Somers insists.
The book has extremely funny passages – there is a sort of gun worshipers’ cult, and respectively a left-wing foundation who fights guns with dildoes. North and Shaw make an appearance, or many, which is always fun to witness.
Tristan James is as much a part of the story as any of the characters. His rendering of Hazard is poignant and deep, his Somers slightly amused and a little bit tired, as he should. Even his Colt sounds like a brat. Overall, it is a great listen, in the Ashe tradition.

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They just get BETTER!

Gregory Ashe is a talented, amazing author with complex stories and characters. Listening to Tristan's narration and the characters become real-I'd want to be friends with them (except for the constant MURDERS ;) ) The addition of Colt into the family dynamics has added new pertinent storylines for anyone dealing with teenagers. Can't wait for the next book! <3

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Good as usually

The storyline and mystery are good as usually, however I am tired of going through the same scenario with this story line. Hazzard acting like a controlling jerk and then learning his lesson, why doesn't he ever learn from the last altercation with Colt. But something always brings me back. Good job as usually Gregory👍

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Major Daddy Issues

This is the fourth book of the 3rd Hazard & Somerset series You don’t have to read the previous two series to enjoy this series, although you will get more out of the story. In this series, Hazard comes off as sort of an a-hole sometimes, but you have to understand his backstory to fully appreciate how hard being a father is for him. It is also helpful to understand John’s backstory to understand why he loves Hazard, especially when Hazard is being a jerk. Their love has been hard fought, which is why they love each other so intensely.

In this installment, there is continued friction in Hazard’s relationship with Colt, their foster son. Colt is a rebellious teenager and Hazard is not handling it well. There are lots of miscommunications and heavy handed parenting. John tries to be a calming influence, but even he is getting frustrated with Hazard. It gets VERY intense. Along side this drama is the duo trying to solve a double murder involving the Ozark Volunteers. It is a typical GA murder mystery with lots of red herrings, twists, turns and then a “I didn’t see that coming” resolution.

One of the highlights is the appearance of North & Shaw, our couple from the Borealis: Without a Compass series. And not just a cameo, they are involved in the solving of the murder and provide great comic relief to the story. After all Shaw is Hazard’s “best friend” even if Hazard doesn’t realize it. Tristan James puts in another amazing performance, A++++ Highly recommended.

I was given a free copy of this audiobook in return for an honest review

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  • Erryn Barratt
  • 06-03-22

The meaning of family

There are so many father relationships in this book – each unique. Let’s start with Hazard and his foster son Colt. Hazard believed he had a good grasp on the relationship – tenuous as it has always been. But when Colt’s biological father contacts him, and he goes to see the old man, Hazard is triggered. He fears losing Colt. He doesn’t react well to that.

The two murder victims are also fathers. But they certainly aren’t Father of the Year material. And the list of people who want them dead is pretty long. Except they’re on opposite sides of the gun debate. Even as I type this, I’m aware of the tragedy unfolding in Texas. And there’ll be another incident next week. And another. Maybe not as horrible as this, but they’ll keep happening. My heart breaks over that, which made the topic in this book all the more urgent.

Turns out the two murder victims weren’t beloved to virtually anyone – and they aren’t even missed that much. Except Somerset and Hazard are determined to solve the mystery – another good one, I have to say.

Oh, and let me not forget the cameo of my two favorite crime-solving sleuths – North and Shaw. In a book with such serious topics, I loved that I could immerse myself in these two and laugh my butt off. Seriously! It’s hard to be serious with these two around and I loved seeing them from Hazard and Somerset’s perspective. I’m hopeful there’s another N&S book coming soon.

Everything works out – the men solve the crime, Colt’s situation is resolved, and it looks like those who did wrong will be punished. It’ll be interesting if there are more books to come – I never get bored of them.

Quick nod to the wonderful Tristan James. He delivered another stellar performance and I enjoyed every minute of it.

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  • Mrs. E. J. Curtis
  • 06-21-22

Enjoyable Story

A well written story with and interesting  concept.  The characters are likeable and the narration is very good.

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  • WallE
  • 05-21-22

The love of a parent

Once again we have the wonderful writing of Gregory Ashe and the narration of Tristan James to add another dimension to this important addition to the series.

Parental love in all its forms are in display here. Fom balancing your fears and dreams for child but not stifling them in an overprotective cocoon that does not allow for their own personal development including original thought; or only being able to show affection when in the glory of your child's achievements they make you shine as well. We see this in Colt struggling with still requiring the approval of his natural father but also with the guilt of wanting the love and approval of Hazard. As well as in the central crime story, where yes there is greed and hate for others different from ourselves but also anger at past experiences of being parented and guilt of parenting

A complex story which I did not hurry as there were a number of themes to digest before going on to appreciate what the next chapter would bring. I love the ongoing development of Hazard and Somerset's relationship, (as for all of us a relationship is a work in progress), Hazard bringing people into his circle despite himself, and Somerset learning new things about people management everyday. Ashe as always manages to combined the mundanity of everyday life with an action packed crime story which at times makes you unsure as to where your sympathies lay. All of this includes some time spent with another of my favourite duo created by Ashe but I will leave you to find out who. Lastly, I must say that I adore Hazard's mother.

The book does not leave you on a cliffhanger but you can feel there is more to come and I have book five in the series on preorder.

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  • L.D.
  • 05-16-22

I Love It

The fourth book in the Arrows in the Hand series (the third Hazard and Somerset series arc), Father Complex once again showed me why Gregory Ashe is one of my favorite authors. A quick note - this series MUST be read in order, starting with the very first series arc.

Hazard is a hard man. A difficult man. He’s a man with a temper. And he’s a man that loves with his entire being. Nobody knows that better than John Henry. Hazards reactions can be hard on the reader - especially when all I want to do is to tell him to calm down. But there’s so much emotional damage Hazard is dealing with that “calming down” is never really an option. Yet, even when I’m despairing for these two and their relationship, Ashe is always able to get me through that rough patch and show just how deeply Hazard and Somerset love. There is no obstacle they can’t overcome in the end.

The plot of Father Complex is full of the standard action, suspense, and intriguing mystery that I now expect from Hazard and Somerset. I love the appearance of Shaw and North (another favorite couple) and the banter between them all. There is humor, snark, and shenanigans mixed in with all the action and angst. I absolutely adored this book.

The audiobook was narrated by Tristan James who does a fabulous job. I’m utterly in love with Tristan’s portrayal of Hazard and Somerset. He hits the right notes with both characters and really brings to life their depth and complexity. The audiobook production was well done and made for a wonderful listening experience.