Conspiracy Theory (CrabbyPatty’s Review)

Title: Conspiracy Theory (Hamarsson & Dempsey #1)
Author: Elle Keaton
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: October 7, 2019
Genre(s): Murder / Mystery, Suspense
Page Count: 242
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5


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?

1) Don’t judge this book by its cover (which, to me, says I’m a MMA fighter who owns a tattoo shop), 2) and do not hesitate to dive into this gripping tale!

After a particularly difficult case, stoic Seattle detective Niall Hamarsson finds himself drawn back to his grandparent’s cabin on a small island in the San Juans (an archipelago of islands in the Pacific Northwest near Seattle) where he spent his childhood. Mat Dempsey has also returned to the island from San Francisco and is now serving as Sheriff. The two went to school together on the island and there’s always been an awareness of each another which bursts into some seriously hot UST when they meet again.

A murder in the close-knit community brings up old rivalries between island families, and Elle Keaton balances the murder mystery aspect beautifully with the wary relationship between Niall and Mat. Niall is a fascinating character and the author gives us tantalizing tidbits of Niall’s past:

Niall wore the disguise of domesticity well: the facade worked for him as a detective – maybe that’s why he was a good detective. He was still feral and wounded on the inside, and the veneer of society was wearing thin these days.

Mat is dealing with a seriously underfunded department and lack of expertise, and as the murder case develops, he struggles to solve a murder that ends up hitting too close to home. For the most part, the plot is beautifully interwoven with the simmering sexual tension between Niall and Mat, and the pace of the book is perfect as we are drawn into the case. The only niggles I have with this book is

the ending of the murder case and the revelation of one of the major players which seemed … unrealistic. Without saying too much, I’m aware this book is the first in the series, and I hope we get more of a resolution about the murder case, revealing an additional suspect because as the murder mystery stands, it doesn’t feel complete.

I highly recommend “Conspiracy Theory” for its tight plotting, slowly developing relationship between Niall and Mat (and the equally slow unraveling of Niall’s past), paired with a compelling murder mystery. 4.5 stars.

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Conspiracy Theory (Hamarsson & Dempsey #1) provided by the author in exchange of an honest review.


Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend. My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh ... not in my wheelhouse, but I'm a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre. Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more. A few "badges" from NetGalley: 100 Book Reviews Reviews Published Professional Reader
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