Onyx, Feb 2003, 6.99, 320 pp.
Though she would prefer to avoid this duty near her hometown, Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jessica Blackwell accepts the assignment at Eglin. To Jessica her childhood home Valpariso, Florida is near Eglin, but her memory is of a tragedy from a quarter of a century ago when her mother was assaulted. Still she salutes when a three star General selected Jessica to clean up the environmental nightmare at the base in order to satisfy EPA after an illegal dumping into the sewerage system.
Walton County Sheriff Steve Paxton visits Jessica to ask her about her relationship with local realtor Ron Clark, who apparently committed suicide. His wife, who found the body, says his last words she heard was his mentioning Blackwell. Jessica informs the law enforcement official she met Clark once to pick up the keys to this home. Other murders follow with the link between the dead being what happened to Jessica's mother, making Steve wonder if he has fallen in love with a vengeful killer.
The Commander in Chief of military romantic suspense is Merline Lovelace. Her latest tale, AFTER MIDNIGHT, would gain her the US Senate's consent as the sub-genre leader. The key characters are three-dimensional whether they are Air Force or civilian while the support players either provides insight into the area, the military, or the lead couple. The who-done-it is a delightful police procedural as Steve battles between his heart swearing Jessica is innocent and his brain saying she is the connection. Another five star novel by an author whose books always soar with the best.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner