In Blood on the Tracks by Barbara Nickless we are introduced to Special Agent Sidney Rose Parnell. She is a railroad crimes Special Investigator, brought in to investigate the murder of a woman who appears to have died at the hands of her fiancé. He is a war vet who lived through serious injuries that scarred him enough he is known on the rail rider circuit as the Burned Man. As she begins her investigation we discover Parnell has her own history of war and the accompanying painful memories.
Parnell and her K9 partner Clyde move into the underground world of the rail riders, those who move from place to place via the railroad. It is a world of danger and savagery, and soon she finds there may be more at work then anyone may know. Uncovering a conspiracy, and other crimes that may be linked to it, she finds herself in the middle of danger that puts herself and all she believes in at risk.
Can she find the real truth and exonerate a man who has already given so much for his country. His pain and anguish make him stay aloof to her help. However, she must find a way to gain his trust in order to help prove him innocent of murdering the one woman who believed in him and looked past his wounds.
A woman who understood him and was ready to marry him. But she also knew a secret that could take down a man in power, a man who was willing to risk everything to hide a deadly secret in his own past. Could Parnell gain The Burned Man’s trust and save them both from the savagery of the real truth?
Nickless has given us characters that are both repelling yet, in some cases, decent at heart. She takes us into the dangerous lives of those who have nothing and are willing to kill to stay alive. She makes you feel their fear and desperation in a way that makes you turn on the lights and pull the curtains as you read. She brings us both the Burned Man and Special Agent Sidney Rose Parnell, two of those who have seen war and survived in their own manner. Parnell’s K9 partner, Clyde, is just icing on the cake to keep you involved to the very end.
If you enjoy suspense and thrillers then you will want to find this Blood on the Tracks for your library. Full of the suspense that holds you on the edge of your seat, it also replete with acts of bravery, moments of hope, and a host of feelings that keep the story’s intensity level high.
This would be a great work for a book club or reading group with a great deal of information that would create robust dialogue and debate.