The Formidable Sydney Parnell

Bruce Von Stiers

Sydney Parnell is the lead character in a mystery series by Barbara Nickless. Sydney is a railroad cop and her partner is a K-9 by the name of Clyde. Through two novels, Sydney has weathered conspiracies and worked her way through betrayals. A veteran of the Iraqi war, it seems Sydney's enemies are just as dangerous at home as they are in the Middle East.

It is because of something that happened in Iraq that Sydney faces new dangers and old foes in the newest novel in the series. The title of the novel is Ambush. It was published by Thomas & Mercer, an imprint of Amazon.

The novel opens with Jeremy Kane getting a call from one of his old military buddies. This guy had, over time, become very delusional. He swears to Kane that someone is after him. Because of what they did in Iraq. A few days later something happens. This event helps set one of the anchors for the novel.

The author sets Sydney's first appearance in the novel in Mexico City. Sydney is tracking down a lead for a missing little boy. The boy is Malik, a child from an Iraqi village whom Sydney had promised to bring to the U.S. Sydney had been given a tip that Malik was in Mexico City. She is trying to find him and make sure Malik isn't in danger.

But other people are looking for Malik too. Sydney soon discovers that Malik may be the key to something that happened in Iraq and that certain parties will stop at nothing to make sure that this never comes to light.

The first two novels in the series had railroads and railroad cops as anchors for the plots. In this latest novel, they play a much smaller part in the story, although one plot element deals with investigating a railroad death.

Another plot element that is recurring in each novel in the series is Sydney's PTSD. This disorder translates into Sydney seeing ghosts of dead people. These are mostly people who Sydney interacted with at some point. Although not as prevalent in this novel, Sydney's ghosts do make an appearance or two.

The novel has plenty of action and intrigue. There are shoot-outs and kidnappings. There are cover-ups and conspiracies. At the center of it all is a flawed heroine who will do whatever it takes to set things right. And certain plot elements in the novel seem real enough to have actually happened.

Barbara Nickless has brought forth a formidable character in Sydney Parnell. She is tough, but compassionate.

Ambush is out now. You can find it at most book retailers.

To learn more about Barbara Nickless and Ambush, visit


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© 2019 Bruce E Von Stiers