Hoboes, Railroads And Murder

Bruce Von Stiers

Barbara Nickless has been a lot of places and done a lot of things. One thing that Barbara is particularly good at is writing. She has had stories and essays appearing in various anthologies both in the U.S. and in the U.K.

Barbara has just had her first full length novel published. It is a mystery thriller titled Blood On The Tracks. It is being published by Thomas & Mercer, an imprint of Amazon.com.

The main character in the book is Sidney Rose Parnell. She is a Railroad Police Special Agent for the Denver Pacific Continental railroad. Sidney has a K-9 partner named Clyde. While checking out a transient camp near the railroad tracks, gets a call from a Denver homicide detective, Mike Cohen. He wants Sidney to come to a crime scene. There has been a murder and the victim was apparently someone Sidney knew.

The victim was Elise Hensley, the niece of Sidney's good friend Nik Lasko. Nik was also a railroad police special agent. Due to certain clues left at the murder scene, it looks like a hobo transient could have been the killer. One such hobo is known as the Burned Man and apparently he and Elise were in some kind of a relationship.

Before becoming a railroad cop, Sidney had been in the military, in Iraq. Her unit was in charge of getting bodies of dead soldiers ready to be shipped home. Due to some of the things that she was exposed to in Iraq, Sidney seems to suffer from PTSD. So much so that Sidney sees ghosts of the dead that she has encountered in her military life.

Sidney and Cohen find out that the Burned Man is on the run. The author provides excellent details in two pursuit scenarios where Sidney, Cohen and a host of other law officers try to capture the suspect.

But once the Burned Man is captured, and Sidney has a chance to talk to him, she's not sure he's guilty. She met him in Iraq and there is something about an incident there that might or might not have anything to do with Elise's murder.

There are several plot elements that seem to intertwine. There are skinhead punks who are preying upon people in the transient camps. There is Nik, who seems to want to stick his nose into the investigation. There is that incident in Iraq that might or might not come back to cause Sidney trouble. And there is Sidney, who seems to be a bit broken.

There is a lot of action in the book. The author keeps things going so the story moves fairly fast. The PTSD angle is thought-provoking. It explains a bit about how Sidney approaches life. The reader gets a bit of insight into Sidney's PTSD as the author gives snippets of reports or journal entries that Sidney has written at the start of each chapter.

There are quite a few twists in the book to keep it interesting. I really thought I had the killer figured out, then found out I was completely wrong. Which is something that I really like in a mystery. If I can correctly guess whodunit quickly, I am extremely disappointed when the culprit is revealed.

One thing that makes me think that there will be a second book is that some of the plot elements aren't finished by the time the book ends.

I really enjoyed Blood On The Tracks. I can't wait to read the next book in this very promising series.

Blood On The Tracks is currently available at amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other digital and traditional book retailers.

To find out more about Barbara Nickless and Blood On The Tracks, visit http://www.barbaranickless.com/

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© 2016 Bruce E Von Stiers