Thursday, September 29, 2016

Blood on the Tracks (Sydney Rose Parnell Series) --Barbara Nickless

Fiction / Thriller
384 pages
5 Stars

I so seldom read thrillers, and yet lately, I've read a couple, and I wonder why I have read them in so long. I believe Nickless has brought me back to the fold.

Let me begin with the Bad News first, and get it out of the way, Book 2 will not be released until next year (2017)—but it is pre-ordered. I can't give her more than 5 Stars. I tried hitting the 5-star button twice, but it didn't work.

There is nothing usual about our heroine, Sydney Rose Parnell.  She enlisted in the Marines and was deployed to Iraq where she worked in Mortuary Services. She suffers with PTSD, she has lost, and lost big time. And now, when we meet her, she is a railroad cop in Denver.

If Nickless wasn't in the military, she certainly did her research. I found Sydney Rose believable to the point of tears on more than one occasion. 

I quit reading thrillers years ago because so many of them were filled with female victims, a lot of gratuitous sex and violence, and too much detail on how the body became a body. Sydney Rose gets called into a homicide case because there are a lot of hobo signs at the murder scene and she knows a lot of hobos. It turns out she knows the victim. We get a bit of description, but most is in our imaginations. The alleged killer is also an Iraqi vet also suffering with PTSD, and for various reasons, Sydney doesn't believe he did it and sets out to find the truth. It's really nice to have a flawed female cop solve the crime.

But she solves it at great cost. She must face some ghosts, she will be injured, she will not just waltz in, solve the crime, and waltz out unscathed. Sydney Rose is, above all, human. And she has family which she will do anything to protect.

This is a gritty story, very well told, but being forewarned is also being forearmed—the language is pretty gritty at times, especially in some of the dialog. Lots of f-bombs, and similar words. If those bother you, don't read the book. This is a who-done-it book of the best kind, but there are sub plots and stories, and more twists than a new rope.

Nickless uses epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter—mostly excerpts from Sydney Rose's journals and an interview published in the local paper. They are a fascinating way to get to know her better, without a lot of flashbacks.


There is violence in this book, and a bit of sex, but none of it is gratuitous. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to those who like a good mystery, but more important, I think I would recommend it to anyone with PTSD. It might be a good book to show them how others live with it, to let them know they are not alone.

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