Putnam, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD
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Reviewed by G. Hall
evada Barr's unusual mysteries featuring park ranger Anna Pigeon are always a treat for the reader. Each one places Anna in a different national park with the setting so well-described that one can really sense the park's ambience. Anna, with her quirky and cantankerous personality, is a nice departure from the current crop of interchangeable female mystery sleuths.
his newest book is set in Montana's Glacier National Park where Anna is participating in a bear DNA study. Of course, a murder occurs and Anna is drawn into it. Although this entry is not quite as good as last year's excellent
, it is still a very good read with an exciting and very surprising end.
b]The following review is by Mary Ann Smyth:
^bc]While on loan to Glacier National Park in Montana to count and register DNA for grizzly bears, Anna Pigeon - Park Ranger Extrodinaire - survives an attack on her tent by one of the grizzlies. A young ranger-in-training runs from the campsite in fear. A search party finds him, but also finds the young man's step-mother murdered with half her face peeled off!
o begins an exciting story with plenty of suspense and intrigue. But every so often while reading this book, I had to stop to absorb the author's descriptions of the park. She transported me to the hills on which her protagonist stood, with the dainty, lovely glacier lilies, the smells of burned out acreage and damp earth, the early morning fog creeping slowly over the landscape.
The sun slid behind the mountains, dragging the day's warmth down with it. In this clashing together of day and night, nature chose to unleash one of her showier moments. As Anna drank her tea, fog white as drugstore cotton began pouring down, feather-light in stasis, from over the jagged mountain's face to the east. Slow and silent in sinister majesty it cloaked the crags, slipped between them and flowed toward the meadows. In an instant so perfect as to seem eternal, the drift turned from white to wild flamingo. In its feeble human way, Anna's brain sought to categorize the sight; lava chiffon, whipped cream, frozen fire. Her puny metaphors exhausted themselves and for a blissful while she sat in mindless appreciation.
hen she finally allows me back to the story, she analyzes the people surrounding Anna with great insight. Nevada Barr not only analyzes Anna's reactions to the world, she looks deeply into the characters peopling Anna's world and shows us what makes them tick.
Humans were tribal creatures. Isolation was a form of punishment so extreme even in prisons, it was used only for a serious breach of conduct. Those who isolated themselves usually suffered as a consequence. Anna's long been aware of the tiny cracks in what passed for normalcy when she'd purposely been alone too long, locked inside the ivory tower of bone that served as skull.
ust as I decide she missed her calling as a psychiatrist (the author is a real life ranger), she plops me back into a murder mystery that captures me once again. Nevada Barr gives us a wonderful book well worth reading. The mystery ain't bad either.
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