The Short Version:
The heart of this story involves JAG Lt. Commander Caroline McCormick who is sent to Washington, D. C. to work in the coveted Pentagon location known as Code 13. While she's there she hopes to reconnect with P. J. MacDonald who is another JAG lawyer at Code 13 and a former love.
What she doesn't expect is to become embroiled in plots by two opposing sides to the passage or killing of a proposed joint project between the U. S. Navy and the Department of Homeland Security. As well, she doesn't know that the bill isn't the only thing being set up to be killed.
I am big fan of Don Brown's early series Navy Justice with its main character of Zack Brewer, so when I had the opportunity to read this second book in his newest The Navy JAG Series, I took advantage of it. (Zack makes a cameo appearance in the book.)
I’ll point out the things I wasn’t keen on first. While the book has a nice climax and some exciting and suspenseful moments, as a former JAG lawyer, the author goes into too much detail at times, such as, writing full correspondence in lawyer-speak when it could have been shortened and summarized. We get the story from several POVs, and sometimes, it became difficult to keep the players straight. Also, I felt some of the characters were a bit cliché.
The good stuff: When it came to the murders, the author kept me guessing as to the responsible party/side. In their own minds, both had motive. Frankly, I questioned the purpose for the crimes—until the end. Then they made sense, so keep reading. I'll add that there's a nice twist before the epilogue. I did not see it coming.
The romance revolves around Caroline's choice between P. J. and another naval officer, Captain Paul Kriete. Revealing any more would be a spoiler, so I'll simply say some will like the ending, some will not. Again, another twist I wasn’t expecting.
Overall, Code 13 contains an appealing mystery that would have been riveting if not slowed by too much detail, much of which was character-revealing, but not essential. However, those who enjoy stories from a military angle—NCIS, JAG, etc.—will probably like the insight into a career they might not have experienced themselves.
About the Reviewer:
Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, antique store prowler. Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Become a part of her newsletter community and receive a free short story.