Murder on an aircraft carrier?
The fourth in JoAnn Ross’s
"High Risk" series follows a group of military men who forged a bond during combat in Afghanistan but are all working out their new life paths now that they have joined civilian life.
Breakpoint focuses on Dallas O’Halloran, former Air Force combat controller, who appeared briefly in
Shattered and Crossfire (I haven’t read the first book in the series,
Freefall) but about whom I knew very little since he has been a fairly minor character until now.
I had begun to wonder if Ross follows a rather similar plot theme in her books; the
hero and heroine of both previous novels had already shared a previous relationship
by the time we met them in the story. In Breakpoint, though, Dallas already knows Julianne Decatur - but as an opponent in a court martial (she was prosecuting his friends over the helicopter crash in Afghanistan).
Breakpoint actually begins a year or so later, when Dallas
is tasked by THOR (a high-up government agency) to investigate the suicide of a female pilot on an aircraft carrier. Dallas
is teamed up with Julianne, a woman he finds himself attracted to. But why are they investigating a suicide when NCIS could do it?
Might they uncover some more significant events that are taking place on the carrier?
The detail Ross employs to build the aircraft carrier setting makes it clear the author has done her homework. The growing relationship between Dallas and Julianne feels more solid than some of the other books’ main relationships.
Less successful is the pacing, which is quite slow at times, and the actual
mystery; neither Dallas nor Julianne seems particularly good at investigating.
Given a ship of 6000 people, they limit their investigations to just a handful
of people on that ship. How fortuitous they choose the right handful, even if
some are a bit of a surprise.
I like Ross's books, particularly the military detail, although reading three in quick succession
reveals a fair bit of repetition (“No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy,” “the only easy day was yesterday,” etc. pop up over and over again), and the military setting is
perhaps more successful than the romance part of the story. But overall, it’s a
good enough read.