Blood on the Tracks by Barbara Nickless

Blood on the Tracks (Sydney Rose Parnell #1)

By: Barbara Nickless
Pages: 384
Series: Sydney Rose Parnell #1
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Published on: October 1st 2016
Blood on the Tracks by Barbara Nickless

A young woman is found brutally murdered, and the main suspect is the victim’s fiancé, a hideously scarred Iraq War vet known as the Burned Man. But railroad police Special Agent Sydney Rose Parnell, brought in by the Denver Major Crimes unit to help investigate, can't shake the feeling that larger forces are behind this apparent crime of passion.
In the depths of an icy winter, Parnell and her K9 partner, Clyde―both haunted by their time in Iraq―descend into the underground world of a savage gang of rail riders. There, they uncover a wide-reaching conspiracy and a series of shocking crimes. Crimes that threaten everything Parnell holds dear.
As the search for the truth puts her directly in the path of the killer, Parnell must struggle with a deadly question: Can she fight monsters without becoming one herself?


Hey all, so this book is not paranormal, not supernatural, not fantasy, or science fiction.  I would consider it a suspense thriller, but it is good.  The whole basis of the book is about a mortuary affairs service member and what happens when she comes home.  There is some pretty serious PTSD flashbacks. If war or dead bodies affect you, please stay away from this book.  I enjoyed the book, but there are some places that I even found difficult.


I usually don’t give warnings, but I did not know the extent of this book’s depth and it affected me.  So on to the book.   Sydney Parnell, born into the railroad community sought her escape in the military.  After serving and leaving the service she arrives home with working dog Clyde in tow.  With her experience, she easily begins working for the railroad company she grew up watching.  A soldier is the number one bsuspect in a brutal murder.  One that knows something about Sydney.  One that can unravel the thin layer of sanity that Syndey is barely holding onto.  Every step she takes to find the suspect draws her deeper into her past, and back to Iraq.  With Clyde by her side, Syndey begins asking questions, questions that will likely kill her.


I liked this story, I think the author did a really good job of connecting the reader to Sydney.  Not just with her actions, but the way she presents herself to the reader.  A strong woman, who is internally as weak as they come.  I suspect that without Clyde being there and needing support, Sydney would succumb to the pain.  It isn’t just Syndey the author builds, but Clyde as well.  He saw things that few dogs see, and has the PTSD for it.


Publisher’s weekly called this book Part Mystery and Part Anti-war.  I don’t think it is anti-war at all.  Describing what happens to soldiers is not anti-war.  It is not pro-war either.  It is a statement of reality.  The US has been at war for over 14 years.  There is that need for release, to tell their story.  The desire to be in their head.  That is not anti-war, that is cold, hard reality. I do not believe the Author is trying to write this grand expose on the war.  I believe she wants to show what some of our service members deal with on a daily basis.  How hard it is for some to reintegrate.


Yes she speaks of the cruelties of war, but the old saying rings true,  “War is Hell”.   Torture and cruelties happen, as much as we would like to think otherwise.  I especially like how Sydney in her own way humanizes the dead.  She makes them whole again in her mind. This is rough when you consider the ghastly effects that war has on a human body.   One aspect that I think the author hit on exceptionally well is the loyalty and brotherhood that exists.  This does not end when servicemembers come home, it continues long afterwards.


I personally will buy the second book that is due out later this year.  I want to see if Sydney can break down the barriers, and talk to someone.  That someone would hopefully be the nice, attractive Police Officer.  However, bridges burned are hard to mend.  The psychological aspects of war are fascinating.  ‘On Killing‘ by Ret. Lt. Col. David Grossman, is a very good book that talks about the psychological aspects in a more clinical way.  I highly recommend if this book peaked your interest to pick up his book.     I read the 2005 version, but I see there is a revision that was recently published.



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