Review: Dead StopDead Stop by Barbara Nickless
Published by Thomas & Mercer on October 3rd 2017
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The search for a missing child leads a courageous railway cop down a twisted trail of murder.

It’s been five months since Special Agent Sydney Parnell survived a violent confrontation with a gang of brutal thugs, an encounter that left her physically and emotionally scarred. Deep down, Sydney fears she isn’t ready for another investigation. But when a woman is murdered on the train tracks and a child goes missing, she knows she’s the only one who can lead the hunt for the killer. While Denver police and the FBI chase down blind alleys, Sydney focuses on a single cryptic clue left behind at the crime scene—one that will send her down a path of greed, violence, and long-ago love.

With Denver beset by a series of monsoonlike thunderstorms that threaten to flood the city, Sydney and her K9 partner, Clyde, must wade through a murky trail of murder that stretches back thirty years—all to rescue a child…and catch a killer with a long memory and an insatiable appetite for destruction.

I received this book for free from Thomas & Mercer (via NetGalley) in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are solely my own. Some links in this review may be affiliate links.

FYI: Dead Stop is the sequel to Blood On The Tracks (Sydney Rose Parnell Series).

Sydney Parnell is a Railroad Cop and a Marine with an unhealthy dose of PTSD and even more guilt. She carries her ghosts with her, quite literally. Dead men she attended while assigned to Mortuary Affairs during the Iraq War, or men she killed herself, appear at the worse possible moments. In Dead Stop, the bulk of those ghosts are the six men our hero tackled in the first book of the series. Don’t let that bother you though. Dead Stop can easily be read as a standalone novel.

In Dead Stop, Sydney is called to a suicide on the line, a gruesome scene, unfortunately, common on the tracks. Only this time, it soon becomes apparent that it wasn’t a suicide and that the dead woman’s family were targeted, two sons dead, a husband in critical condition and a daughter missing. Sydney, along with her canine partner, former Marine, Clyde, must delve into the past, to try and find missing eight-year-old, Lucy. And there’s an extra complication. It’s her railroad, her employer, colleagues and friends of her family, past and present, that are the key to the investigation.

Barbara Nickless does her homework and it shows in the details. Along with an in-depth and accurate look into the inner workings of the railroad, the VA, and PTSD, Ms. Nickless masterfully draws you into the life of all her characters. Sydney, in particular, is an amazingly fleshed-out character, and while you may not understand what she has gone through, you empathize with her and root for her, even when she decides not to wait for backup and races head first into danger. (Why is it that people in books never ever read the books or see the movies that spell out what a bad idea that is?)

You’re not left hanging either. There is no rushed ending, no sudden or unbelievable tying up of loose ends, and while there’s a definite hint at the next in the series, the current case comes to a full conclusion.

I’ll be eagerly waiting for more of the Sydney Rose Parnell series. If I were you, I’d be right there with me! 🙂

Notable Quotes

I have to add this – since these hit home for me as we’re trying to understand a current tragedy in my hometown and the reasons why one man would inflict so much pain and anguish on so many.

Chapter 16:

“People like the man or woman who did this – they’re not like us. They’re a force of nature. Like…” He searched for words. “Like a natural disaster. We can’t prevent them or even prepare for them. We can’t know who they might go after or who they’ll reach. The one thing we can do is not let them inside our heads.”

Chapter 32:

The chaplain, Hayes, told me that some forms of mental illness lie hidden like bombs – they can remain forever dormant or be detonated by a single wrong step.

Author Links

Barbara Nickless: WWW · Facebook · Twitter

My Verdict: