Next to Die - Marliss Melton
Next to Die
It’s unusual for a Navy Commander to go into the field with his SEAL team, but when one member of a team on a time-sensitive mission falls ill, Joe Montgomery takes his place. The mission, deep in the mountains of Afghanistan, is a disaster; Joe watches his entire team get wiped out, and only barely survives himself. Back home, he becomes mired in guilt and pain, blaming himself for the loss of his men.
His next-door-neighbor, Penny Price, a physical therapist at the Naval Medical Center, has always noticed the attractive Commander, but, given his very active love life, has consigned herself to cat-sitting and yard-raking duties when Joe is traveling. This time, when he arrives home, it’s clear that he’s been injured. Joe is understandably reluctant to tell Penny about what happened, but when she ends up assigned to him as a physical therapist, the two grow closer.
Penny and her sister Lia are busy with an investigation of their father’s death. His car accident was suspicious, but there was no proof of foul play at the time. Now, five years later, they’ve found his journals and an email that seems to implicate his former business partner, Eric Tomlinson, in the theft and sale of a bioweapon. Overcome with anger, Lia confronts Eric over the phone. Soon, she and Penny are being stalked. Feeling that he needs to do something to redeem his faith in himself, Joe throws himself into the investigation, and into protecting Penny.
This is part of a continuing series, and newcomers (like me) may find themselves feeling that they’ve missed some significant events. At the outset, Penny comes across as a bit of a sad sack, taking care of the cat and doing yard work for free because she’s got a crush on the hot SEAL next door. Once she finds a bit of backbone, it’s much easier to like her. Lia has her own romantic subplot here, woven into the main plot quite nicely. The group does spend a bit of time investigating the death of Penny’s father, but the mystery elements are fairly light. For a nicely paced read with a bit of suspense, NEXT TO DIE is the perfect summer read.
Rating: 6 ½