Monday, June 15, 2020

Ambush: The Third in a Series About A Female Marine

Publicist Wiley Saichek gifted me with the mystery/thriller Ambush by Barbara Nickless via Amazon.  I had not read the previous two books in this series, but I read a Goodreads review that assured me that this book can stand alone.  It resolves a major ongoing issue in the female protagonist's life that relates to her military service in the Iraq War, and contains all the background necessary for understanding it.

I was interested in the fact that protagonist Sydney Rose Parnell is a Marine.  I'm pretty sure that I'd never previously read a novel about a female Marine.  I believed that she would definitely be a strong female protagonist.  I was also intrigued by Sydney going to Mexico to find an Iraqi child in this book.


Regular readers of this blog will notice that the protagonist of the last book I read was also named Sydney.  This could be considered a coincidence, but it could also be possible that what was previously an unusual name for a woman is becoming more popular. 

The first person perspective of Sydney Parnell is a very intimate one.  We are exposed to her doubts and fears, but she never hesitates to act quickly when it's called for.   Being a Marine calls for courage.  I have always believed that courage isn't really about never being afraid.  It's about overcoming those fears.  When I first started reading Ambush, I questioned the risks that Sydney took.  Yet over the course of the narrative, I recognized that she was smart, resourceful and very well trained.   I particularly liked her alternate version of the Marine by-word, Semper Gumby , which Sydney translated as "always flexible".   Flexibility allows for quick improvisation of a new plan when the old one isn't working.   It increases the odds of surviving dangerous situations.

Sydney is no longer in the Marines.  She is now a railroad detective.  Yet she has a K9 partner in her investigations who is military trained. His name is Clyde, and he is a very good dog. Sydney and Clyde work well together, and have a great bond of affection between them.  I enjoyed this aspect of the book.

Ambush isn't a romance, but there is a romantic relationship in this book that I considered emotionally intense.  I have loved some romance novels because they had great characters, but none have moved me to tears.  I cried when I read about a certain relationship in Ambush.  I found it heart rending.  This testifies to the power of Barbara Nickless' writing.  For me, this was a two handkerchief book when it came to the romance.

The case that began with a traumatic experience for Sydney that took place in Iraq was difficult to resolve, and involved a great many murders perpetrated in Iraq, Mexico and the U.S.  All the characters were well developed including the individual who was behind all the killings. I was impressed by the characterization, and thought that the resolution was satisfying.  I recommend  Ambush and its author to fans of mysteries and thrillers. 


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