cover image Blood on the Tracks

Blood on the Tracks

Barbara Nickless. Thomas & Mercer, $14.95 trade paper (436p) ISBN 978-1-5039-3686-7

Part mystery, part antiwar story, Nickless’s engrossing first novel, a series launch, introduces Sydney Rose Parnell, a veteran of the Iraq War who handled the disposal of bodies and is now a railway cop. Tucker Rhodes (aka the Burned Man) suffered severe burns in Iraq. He has settled in L.A., where he has cut himself off from everyone, even former lover Elise Hensley, a family friend of Sydney’s. When Elise calls Tucker declaring that she loves him despite his disfigurements, he returns home to Denver only to find her savagely knifed to death. With much evidence pointing to his guilt, Tucker implores Sydney to prove his innocence, aware that the inevitable delving into their shared war history may well upset the life Sydney has built for herself. Nickless skillfully explores the dehumanizing effects resulting from the unspeakable cruelties of wartime as well as the part played by the loyalty soldiers owe to family and each other under stressful circumstances. Agent: Bob Diforio, D4EO Literary Agency. (Aug.)