Friday, September 21, 2018

Barbara Nickless - Dead Stop, Second in New Sydney Parnell Fantastic Series! Personal Favorite for Book and Character!

Continuing on from the audio...excerpt...

Her father loved the trains. That’s where he worked now that he wasn’t a soldier anymore, writing a book about the railroads. 
But the sound of the whistle always opened up something in Lucy that was far away and sad. A silver thread of lightning shot down from the sky. Lucy shivered. Her dad paused in his reading. “The train?” 
“No,” she said, wanting to be brave. “And not the lightning, neither.” She sat on the shiver, squeezed it until it went away. Then she lifted her head and pointed toward the window. “Could we go there?” 
Her father followed her gaze. “Outside? Sure, after dinner. We can go for a walk once the storm has passed.” 
She shook her head. “No. Look. See us in the window?” Her dad sat up, shifting her on his lap, and squinted toward the glass. 
“I do, Lucy.” 
“And you see the trees, too?”
 “I do,” he answered gravely.
He always took her ideas seriously. But she could feel his smile. “It’s a magic place,” she said. “An in-between place. Like the wardrobe.” 
“What would we do there in the window, Lucy Goose?” 
At the use of her nickname, she looked into his face. Her father hadn’t called her Lucy Goose since she started kindergarten. Now she was a big third grader. “We’d find things,” she said. “Special things. Like Lucy did in Narnia.”
“I’d like that, Lucy Goose.” She looked back down, hugged Bobo. 
“Does Mommy have to go?” 
“Only for a few days.” He tilted her chin up. “What’s bothering you?” But Lucy shook her head. She was always seeing things. That’s what her teachers said. “I’m not afraid.” ...
In the midst of all this, the doorbell rang. “One of you kids get that,” her mother said. But now the boys were arguing over who had knocked over the pitcher. Lucy stood and walked out of the kitchen toward the hall. As she rounded the corner, the light from the kitchen fell away and the front door emerged from the darkness. Through the window next to the door, evening light fell soft. The storm was gone, and a single star shone in the sky. Far away, another train blew its whistle. Lucy paused in the hall, one hand pressed flat against the cool texture of the wall, one foot lifted as if afraid to touch down. The doorbell rang again.
“Lucy!” called her mom. “It’s Carla. She needs to borrow the mixer. Can you let her in?” 
The hallway grew longer. Darker. The door loomed, its brass handle gleaming in the dying light. Lucy glanced back into the library where her book and Bobo lay in the chair. Whoever had rung the bell began to knock. “It’s like the wardrobe,” Lucy whispered. “Don’t be afraid. It’s Aslan waiting.” Or the white witch, said a voice from somewhere. Lucy’s hand found the door handle. Don’t open it, said the same voice...

But She did...And before long all of her family was attacked, and she was kidnapped. Her father was taken to the hospital in critical condition; the rest of the family were dead...

Every chance you get, remember: hang on to the living.  
Don’t take up with the dead. 
—Sydney Parnell. Personal journal.

Sydney Parnell seems to have been surrounded by death since she was young. After her father had left her and her mother, her mother was sent to prison for murdering a man...that was the first of the dead...

Sydney was always afraid, but she had taught herself not to be and when she had decided to join the Marines, she signed up for Mortuary Affairs. Her willingness to take on an extremely hard environment in which to serve her country was appreciated by her C/O. But he got more than he ever could have wished for, given Sydney's talent for remembering and recording all the needed details that came with the job...

But she had also taken on the dead in a personal way, and in her mind, she would look at every body and put them back together and then, almost as a blessing, she accepted them into her heart's memory. Now years later, in her personal journal, she would caution to hang on to the living instead...But it was too late for her... Now the dead surrounded her at various places and times. And when she became a cop and killed the enemies, they also followed her, as if waiting, waiting to get back at her for their deaths...

Sydney is not only extremely intelligent, which we discover as she is able to quickly pick up clues and/or add to the picture from others working a case, so that she normally winds up being the one who solves the case. Of course, part of the reason is that, she is also extremely tenacious and when others call it a day, she keeps on thinking, and, once the puzzle is solved, she proceeds out as a loner, not willing to stop until the solution is found...

In this book, an entire family has been attacked at home, but the young girl, Lucy was taken... All the reasons had to be considered--for a ransom, for later torture and sexual abuse, or sold...There were so many reasons that Lucy had to be found as quickly as possible!

Sydney was hit hard when she was called into the case...She already carried a picture of a young boy that she had met during the war and hoped to bring home, only to have him disappear... She was always hunting for him... Now, with Lucy, her picture also carried in her pocket, she vowed to herself that she would not let this child also disappear! Even if she had to find Lucy herself!

Sydney has moved in with her lover, a cop she worked with on cases, beginning in the first book. He has already vowed his love to her, but Sydney, in my opinion, has lost the understanding of love at this point. Just this one love interest is sufficient to bring attention to the book as we hope and pray that this character, sitting in for many with PTSD, is able to find her way back and trust enough to be able to fall in love...

I'm not sure whether this book, with so much violence would be considered in the Christian genre. But I will say that our main character spends a lot of time talking with, negotiating, or being mad at God as she struggles with all that has been placed on her...from the dead...and the living. To me, this story is more the reality of today's world than those books without violence. I am pleased that Nickless has successfully, in my opinion, combined faith in God along with those who constantly fight evil... The series is timely from that perspective... and I've already pre-ordered the next, even if I have to wait 'til next year--I don't want to not continue the series! Love and highly recommend to thriller fans and more!

Every person’s life is a struggle against a world filled with resistance. That resistance may defeat us or warp us or crush us. 
But sometimes, we find a strength we didn’t know we had. And with that newly recognized strength, we move past the hard times. And we become a little stronger for the next round. 
—Sydney Parnell. Personal journal.



Loved getting to know a little more about my new favorite character, Sydney:

Special Agent Sydney Parnell’s Reading List

Author Barbara Nickless interviews her main character about the books on her bedside table. Read more at 

Here's an interesting story that writers will enjoy and learn from maybe!

How Far Will You Go … to Get Your Story Right?

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