Barbara Nickless’ debut novel BLOOD ON THE TRACKS is a big thunking book, coming in at over 400 pages, and exploring the meaningful ground of soldiers adapting back into civilian life after facing the horrors of war, all while setting the crime in the underused world of the railroad cop. The military stress and the focus on PTSD may be slightly overdone, but the plotting, characterization and believability are generally strong and we may be seeing the birth of an interesting new mystery series.
Railroad Police Special Agent Sydney Rose Parnell is an ex-Iraq war vet, who spent some difficult years in the service. Her lover, Doug Ayers, was killed over there and the only two things she has left to remember him by is his signet ring, and much better, Clyde, a specially-trained Belgian Malinois service dog that she uses in her work. Though she doesn’t handle homicides, she is called out to the scene of an especially grisly attack because there are hobo signs painted on the wall.
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