Friday, August 13, 2010

Review: A New Mystery series for me!

A few weeks ago I started reading a book by Nevada Barr, mainly because a) it was on the shelf at the library as I walked by, and b) it seemed like everybody I know loves her books.  Well, I happened to pick one that was not part of the Anna Pigeon series, and subsequently abandoned it.  My sister and friends encouraged me to try again, so when this latest in her series popped up on the audio shelf, I grabbed it.  And I'm really glad I did.

Hard Truth
Author: Nevada Barr
Format: audio 12 1/2 hours; 336 page equivalent
Characters: Anna Pigeon
Subject: polygamy, wife/child abuse, murder
Setting: Rocky Mountain National Park
Series: Anna Pigeon Mysteries (#13)
Genre: police procedural
Source: Public library

This is a series where I'm definitely going to go back to the beginning so I can catch up. Anna Pigeon is a fascinating character--a 50 something Park Ranger, who's in great shape, has spent her life outdoors, but is still concerned enough to take care of her skin!  A role model for us elder ladies!

In this adventure, she's recently married but has left her new husband back in New Orleans when the call came to take this post in Rocky Mountain National Park. It appears to be a good career step and they agree to take one year to decide whose career will be the one driving where the couple will ultimately live. I sense plenty of room for future tension in that aspect.

When Anna arrives at her new post, she is briefed on an ongoing case of three missing girls from some sort of church campout. When two of those girls emerge from the woods dehydrated, filthy, almost naked, and suffering from 'amnesia' about what happened to them and where they've been for the past two weeks, Anna is skeptical. Church and family elders do not want to pursue the adventure, and if it weren't for the fact that one of the girls is still missing, would not allow any questioning at all.

Add to this mix the fact that the two girls were discovered by a young paraplegic in a wheelchair who is camping in the park with her 80 year old auntie who happens to be a physician, and you have a delicious mix of motivations and characters. This one has a great plot, lots of suspects - not too many too track of though--a gorgeous setting which Barr describes well, and some well developed characters.

Although I have not read the previous 12 in the series, I had no trouble following with the limited backfill. While I am curious about some of the previous adventures (who the husband is and how they met for instance), the lack of knowledge did not detract from my enjoyment of this story. The plot makes a very steady climb to an especially chilling and thrilling climax. I don't usually like "scary in the dark woods" kinds of stories, but I found this one quite believable and was sufficiently grabbed that I had to stay up long past my bedtime to finish it. It is a true cliff hangar. (Read the story and you'll see that is no pun.)

I'm definitely putting the rest of these on my TBR list. A great series with a strong female protagonist, entertaining ancillary characters, believable and thrilling plots, and spectacular settings. Isn't that a recipe for a great read?


  1. I have read a couple of the books in this series and have enjoyed them. I love the different setings in the different national parks..keeps it interesting. I rmemeber on was set at Liberty Park with the Statue of Liberty..a learned a lot too
    But bottom line, I like them because Anna is a great character. Did I read that she has a new one out? I must check...

  2. So glad you discovered Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon. I always enjoy her adventures and I think you'll like following her from the beginning.

  3. I love the Anna Pigeon books. It's fun to read about a national park and then to actually visit it makes it come to life. I'm glad you've discovered her.


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