Leaving Iraq has never really meant leaving the battlefield for a veteran whose ghosts still follow her in her new role as a railroad cop.
Former Cpl. Sydney Rose Parnell works the railroad beat with her K-9 companion, Clyde. As a cop who helps connect homeless people to services and sometimes gets them off the streets, she likes that it’s just her and Clyde working alone together. She likes it much less when she’s pulled out of her routine into a case for Denver Major Crimes concerning a murder suspect who’s another Iraq War vet, one who’s known for riding the rails. Given their similar histories, the department thinks Sydney may have some insight into his whereabouts. Known only as the Burned Man because of his terrible disfigurement during the war, the suspect seems to have nothing to lose, a feeling Sydney’s all too familiar with. As it turns out, the war and the railways aren’t Sydney’s only ties to the case. The victim is the niece of Special Agent Nik Lasko, a man who helped Sydney’s grandmother raise her. Although Sydney wants to do Nik right by solving the case, she starts to think the Burning Man angle is a setup, maybe even a coverup of war secrets she was never supposed to learn. Is Sydney’s suspicion that the motivation for murder runs deep based on her own guilt about the war, or will wandering into the truth put her in danger?
Nickless' writing admirably captures the fallout from a war where even survivors are trapped, forever reliving their trauma.