Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Atmospheric Setting + Likable Heroine + Twisty Mystery = Me Coming Back for More Anna Pigeon

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After her husband dies in a New York City car accident, Anna Pigeon flees urban life for its complete opposite.  As an enforcement ranger at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in the west Texas wilderness, the 39-year-old widow now spends more time communing with nature than anything—or anyone—else.  And it suits her just fine.

While hiking in the park one day, Anna comes across the dead body of a park ranger who appears to have been mauled to death by a mountain lion.  Shocked by the brutality of the apparent attack, Anna can't quite believe what she's seeing.  She didn't know Sheila Drury well, but she does know animals and this "attack" looks staged.  Try as she might to convince her superiors to look into the suspicious death, however, Anna gets exactly nowhere.  Refusing to back off, she launches her own investigation.  Between Drury's push to open the park to the public and her clandestine relationship with another employee, it isn't tough to find people who may have had motive to kill the ranger.  Who actually did the deed?  Anna knows Drury's killer isn't a wild cat but a human who is more vicious and dangerous than any mountain lion.  The question is, can Anna find the murderer before he or she finds Anna?  
     
Published in 2003, Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr is an oldie I've been meaning to get to for a while now.  The first book in Barr's popular Anna Pigeon series (the 19th installment of which just came out a few weeks ago), it introduces the ranger in all her complex charm.  In sharp, vivid prose that really makes it come alive, Barr also presents the real star of the show—the west Texas wilderness.  This atmospheric setting provides an intriguing background to a twisty mystery that kept me guessing.  Between the author's rich descriptions of the park and those of her brave, compassionate heroine, I found Track of the Cat to be an enjoyable read.  I'll definitely be heading back to the Guadalupe Mountains soon for more adventures with the unforgettable Anna Pigeon.

(Readalikes:  reminds me of the Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow and of The Wild Inside by Christine Carbo)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a dozen or so F-bombs plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


2 comments:

  1. Wow! That's one long series! And this was the first? I look forward to seeing if you make it through them all and how quickly if you do.

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  2. I'm a huge mystery fan, though I do prefer Golden Age, and Nevada Barr has been on my radar for years, but I've never actually picked one up. I think you have finally convinced me to finally bite the bullet.

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