Janice’s Review Blog

Suspense, mystery invade national parks

Posted on: May 13, 2011

Even though I don’t read many mysteries, I find the Anna Pigeon series of novels written by Nevada Barr fascinating and sometimes so scary, they fill the dark corners of my sleep. She weaves her experience as a park ranger into her books and provides great detail on the national parks in her novels. The action never stops from beginning to end, but the reader never nows ‘who done it’ until the final pages of the book.

Nevada Barr's "Blood Lure" takes place in Glacier National Park.

Nevada Barr's "Blood Lure" takes place in Glacier National Park.

 Set in Glacier National Park, Anna Pigeon learns a great deal about grizzly bears when she joins a scientific project with biologist Joan Rand and her intern Rory Van Slyke in “Blood Lure.” The project gets side tracked when Rory’s step-mother turns up murdered, and Pigeon gets involved in the investigation.

Barr lays out the steps involved in the scientific project, describes in detail the scenery and wildlife in Glacier National Park and gives the reader a taste of what it’s like to be a park ranger. The action never stops throughout the novel, and even though the reader gets clues to the murder, the ending comes as a shocking surprise.

Nevada Barr sets "High Country" in Yosemite National Park.
Nevada Barr sets “High Country” in Yosemite National Park.

In “High Country,” Anna Pigeon shows up at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park disguised as a waitress. She helps to find out what happened to four park employees who mysteriously disappear. Along the way, she meets other park employees and climbers who camp out in the nearby village and come to climb the sheer cliffs at Yosemite.

She also overhears a conversation about a gold rush in the Sierra Mountains. Her undercover investigation almost costs Pigeon her life, and she wonders who to trust and who to turn to as the plot unfolds.

Nevada Barr sets "Hard Truth" in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Nevada Barr sets “Hard Truth” in Rocky Mountain National Park.

 Shortly after her marriage to Sheriff Paul Davidson, Anna Pigeon becomes a district ranger and moves to Rocky Mountain National Park in “Hard Truth.” An active investigation into the disappearance of three girls draws Pigeon into the center of the mystery as she becomes acquainted with her new surroundings and the people in the park.

The return of two of the missing girls, the remnants of small animals tortured and killed, a former climber now confined to a wheelchair and a couple of Pigeon’s rangers add to the mystery of the disappearance of the girls. This suspense filled book leads Pigeon on a number of different paths with an ending furthest from her worst nightmare.

 These books represent a sampling of the Anna Pigeon series created by Nevada Barr. She also writes other mystery novels with her latest “13 1/2.” The thriller transitions back and forth between the ’60s and ’70s in Minnesota and 2007 in Louisiana. 

As the story unfolds, Barr tells of the life of Polly in her trailer park home with her mother and the string of men her mother brings into their lives. Back in Minnesota in 1968, an axe murder of a family occurs with two brothers surviving and one going to trial for the murders. Mystery follows the main characters throughout the book, and Barr weaves her intrigue into the changing environment and plot. The suspense keeps the reader turning the pages to see what happens next. The book delivers a strange, psychotic view of what happens to those who commit mass murders.  

Nevada Barr wrote the thriller "13 1/2."

Nevada Barr wrote the thriller "13 1/2."


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