Mysterious Book Report No. 371

by John Dwaine McKenna 

Ambush, (Thomas & Mercer, PB, $15.95, 350 pages, ISBN 978-1503901513) the third—and latest—in the Sydney Rose Parnell thriller series by Barbara Nickless, takes off on page one like a Marine FA-18 Super Hornet under full military power from the flight deck of the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush, and never lets the reader down.
The novel opens in Denver, where a Regional Transportation District, or RTD, cop named Jeremiah Kane receives an eerie warning phone call from a former US Marine fire-team buddy in Iraq. The caller is a man named Crowe; a man who’s got demons in his head from the war; a man whose sanity is in question.  He tells Kane that he thinks someone is following him. And he also says that, “It’s like we’re the heros in a effed-up movie.  And Iraq is the monster that won’t die.” Within hours, Kane is dead.

At the same time, Railroad Detective, and a former Marine comrade of  Kane and Crowe . . . as well as a fellow PTSD sufferer . . . named Sydney Rose Parnell, is on a personal mission in Mexico City.  She’s the protagonist in Ms. Nickless’ first two novels Blood on the Tracks, and Dead Stop, and she’s there trying to find an Iraqi orphan named Malik.  He’s an eleven year-old boy whose parents were both murdered by the insurgents, and he holds a key piece of evidence that proves an act of treason.  It’s a crime so vile that forces with what seem like an unlimited resources, and run by an unknown enemy Sydney Parnell has dubbed the Alpha, is killing everyone who has any connection with the removal and burial of Malik’s mother, a translator for the Americans, and his father, a US Marine.  Mailk is at the top of the Alpha’s hit list, with Sydney not too far behind.  But how does one find a single hidden child in a city of twenty million souls?  How does the hunter keep from being turned into the hunted and killed?  And how, above all else, can Sydney Rose Parnell keep “the ghosts of her guilt” at bay long enough for her to do her job: find Mailik, stay alive and keep her personal life from shattering on the alter of Duty, Honor and Country?  The only way to get the answers and meet two of the most charming characters in crime fiction—Sydney Rose Parnell and her K9 companion, a Belgian Malinois war dog named Clyde—is to get your own copy of Ambush, and read it.  You’ll be captured by the characters, riveted by the plot and sorry . . . to come to the last page.  Barbara Nickless is well on her way to A-list stardom.  She’s the Queen of  Literary Bad-Assery and one helluva wordsmith.  The MBR is honored to call her friend!


John Dwaine McKenna

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