Ambush by Barbara Nickless

Author: Barbara Nickless
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Series: Sydney Rose Parnell #3
Format: Paperback, 364 pages
Genre: Murder Mystery

Back Cover Blurb

Railway cop and former Marine Sydney Parnell is on the hunt. So is a killer she knows only as the Alpha. They’re in a race to find Malik, an eleven-year-old Iraqi boy with secrets to guard. Sydney wants to help him. The Alpha wants him dead.

From the dark alleys of Mexico City to the mean streets of Denver, Sydney and her K9 partner, Clyde, use their wits and determination to chase down the ruthless killer. But when their path collides with his, Sydney realizes just how far-reaching and sinister the Alpha’s past is. And how far he’s willing to go to save his secrets.

What I Thought

This series has gone from “OMG this is good,” with book one, Blood on the Tracks, to “WOW, what the hell,” in book two, Dead Stop, to “holy shit!” with Ambush, book 3 in this outstanding dark crime series of reads. Barbara Nickless came out of nowhere onto my radar last year and is now one of my top 5 go-to authors. Her writing puts her at number two in my all-time favourite authors.

Yes, she is that good! It’s not just her story telling skills, and her ability to weave several connecting threads throughout her work, but the depth she’s given to her MC, Sydney, the sheer intimacy we feel on both a physical, emotional, and mental level. It’s as if we’re sat with her in a bar supping a beer, with Clyde her K9 partner there, at our feet, as she tells you about the case in hand. And that isn’t to say her other characters miss out, they don’t. From the secondary and supporting cast, right on through to the shadowy figures pulling the strings. Everyone is nuanced in many shades of grey, with those we think of as bad having their own story to tell.

Nickless is faultless in setting a gripping scene and creating atmosphere, along with dealing us a real sense of dread, with wire-taut tension in the fight scene, through to using pacing to full effect in stringing out our nerves to the limit, it will make your skin prickle.

Truly, this gifted combination of exemplary storytelling will have you flicking pages, trying to keep up with Sydney and her K9 partner, Clyde, as she pieces together odd facts, with seemingly random pieces of information, all the while hunting down who’s behind the shadows hiding in dark alleys. And believe me, it’s never who you think it is.

We are played as many times as Sydney is, as she sifts the shifting sands of memories that haunt her from her time in Afghanistan, through to the current murder of fellow marine, Kane, and his connection to what happened in Sydney’s past. It all ties in by the end that will leave you strung out with frayed nerves but also, with a sense of hope. And, of course, with a promise that Sydney and Clyde are not done … not done by a long shot.

If you like high octane pacing, gritty action, dark alleys, fist-fights, and a strong female lead who refuses to give in, and refuses to give up, then I can highly recommend this whole series and especially, Ambush.

Smart, highly original, and brutally authentic!

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