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Blind Descent [Mass Market Paperback]

N Barr
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1 1999 Anna Pigeon Mysteries
A would-be killer is drawing Anna Pigeon deep into the darkness-and closer to hell than she's ever gone before.

"Anna Pigeon, the intrepid National Park Service ranger in Nevada Barr's superb wilderness mysteries, has had some perilous experiences in the five novels that preceded Blind Descent, but none compares with this thrilling subterranean adventure in the underground caverns of Lechuguilla, 'a monster man-eating cave' in New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns. When a fellow ranger is injured in a caving accident, Anna chokes back the willies of claustrophobia and joins the rescue team. Burrowing 800 feet below ground, she negotiates airless tunnells, gaping pits, vaulting caverns and silently flowing rivers, each hazard with a daunting name like Razor Blade Run or the Wormhole. At the end of the dangerous descent, she reaches her friend and hears her say, 'It wasn't an accident.' A would-be killer is drawing Anna Pigeon deep into the darkness-and closer to hell than she's ever gone before.

 


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From Amazon

Feisty, resourceful forest ranger Anna Pigeon faced everything from raging fires to deep-water dives with cool aplomb in her first five adventures. Very early in Blind Descent her courage is put to an even greater test when she learns that a woman seriously injured while exploring a cave next door to New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns is a friend who has requested Pigeon's help in getting her out. "A chilling image filled Anna's mind: herself crouched and whimpering, fear pouring like poison through her limbs, shutting down her brain as the cave closed in around her." Pushing aside her fears, Pigeon takes the plunge, leading readers through a truly harrowing series of tight squeezes. Nevada Barr is so good at involving us in Anna's terror that when she finally resurfaces, we share her "unadulterated joy. Even the dirt smelled alive... When she saw her first stars, she croaked out her delight from tired lungs." Above ground, Anna quickly gets involved in two possibly linked murders and becomes a rifleman's target. As we share the progress of her investigation, a sneaky suspicion starts to grow of possible suspects within the small community of spelunkers and National Park Service bureaucrats. Barr couldn't possibly ask Anna to go back underground again, could she? When it happens, of course, it seems inevitable--and just as frightening as the first time. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Early in this sixth tale in Barr's evocative and suspenseful series (after 1997's Endangered Species), national park ranger Anna Pigeon is summoned from duty in Colorado to New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns. A woman caver seriously injured while exploring the nearby Lechuguilla cave is a friend who has asked specifically that Anna help in her rescue. Anna has faced everything from forest fires to deep-water dives with equanimity, but claustrophobia has so far kept her above-ground. "A chilling image filled Anna's mind: herself crouched and whimpering, fear pouring like poison through her limbs, shutting down her brain as the cave closed in around her." Fully aware of her vulnerability, Anna nevertheless takes the plunge, leading readers through a truly harrowing series of tight squeezes. Barr is so good at involving us in Anna's terror that, when Anna finally reaches the surface again, we share her "unadulterated joy. Even the dirt smelled alive." Above ground, Anna quickly becomes involved in pursuing possible links between two murders and soon finds herself a rifleman's target. A sneaky suspicion starts to grow as we share the progress of her investigation of possible suspects within the sharply sketched community of cavers and National Park Service bureaucrats. Barr couldn't possibly ask Anna?and us?to go back underground again, could she? Wouldn't that be more than courage and credulity could bear? When it happens, of course, it seems inevitable and thoroughly satisfying?thanks to the writing and plotting talents of a master. Mystery Guild main selection; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
With deep appreciation of the staff of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, particularly Dale Pate, Paula Bauer, Harry Burgess, and Frank Deckert. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Unending Suspense March 12 2006
Format:Hardcover
OK, let’s fact it. You know the minute you pick up one of Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon park ranger mysteries that at some point in the narrative, our intrepid heroine is going to get herself into a life-threatening situation and you are going to be sitting on the edge of your seat unable to put the book down.
However, in Blind Descent, Nevada Barr outdoes herself, because the suspense is as thick as the impenetrable darkness Anna Pigeon descends into when she joins a rescue team to bring out an injured park employee from a miles-long mostly unmapped cave in New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns. The injured caver whispered Anna’s name during a brief moment of consciousness, and so, battling claustrophobia Anna squeezes through tunnels and rappels down rock faces to the side of the injured woman, who confides to Anna, during another moment of lucidity, that she was pushed. Her injury was not an accident. Which one of the handful of people deep in the bowels of this inhospitable underworld did it? And why? Will they kill the injured caver before she can be brought to the surface? And, anyway, what was that sound? A cave creature?
One of the many charms of the Anna Pigeon mystery series is that the novels are all set in a different National Park, giving the reader an education in, for example, the behind-the-scenes workings of well-known locations such as Yosemite National Park as described in High Country, the civil war background of the less-known ramparts ruins on the island Dry Tortugas National Park at the tip of the Florida Keys, and the intriguing feeding habits of Glacier National Park grizzly bears in Blood Lure.

Therefore, I expected that the almost totally underground setting of Blind Descent would be without charm until I began to read the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Subterranean Murder Mystery June 27 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In "Blind Descent", Ranger Anna Pigeon is called away from her post at Mesa Verde National Park to assist in an emergency rescue attempt at Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico. Anna's friend Freida has been injured while on an exploration trip inside of Lechguilla, and Freida has requested Anna to be with her during the rescue.
I enjoyed this Anna Pigeon mystery a lot. The descriptions of the cave were marvelous. Barr does a great job of evoking the fear that Anna Pigeon feels, being in the cave while fighting back her own extreme sense of claustrophobia. It's true that there is a lot of technical details on the equipment used in caving, but I felt that this description served to add to the tension and sense of urgency that the rescuers were feeling. The suspense in this story was well developed. For a majority of the book, Anna is one of the few people who suspects foul play in her friend's injury.
The characters in the caving crew were interesting and well-developed. All in all, this is a fun read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Murder in the Dark July 23 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Anna Pigeon and I have been caving, and after our adventure in a partially explored annex to Carlsbad Caverns, I don't want to go again any time soon!
As always, Nevada Barr has the ability to take the reader right along on Anna's adventures. An indoor person myself, I was perfectly comfortable with the descriptions of the various and sundry caving gear, body positions necessary to squeeze through outrageously small openings formed of solid rock, and horrendously dangerous slithering over bottomless caverns. Never boring, these descriptions of caving are fascinating, as is the explanation of the otherworldly cave, Lechuguilla Cavern, only discovered in the mid-1980s, and estimated to extend for more than 300 miles.
Anna is a card-carrying claustrophobe, and has absolutely no intention of entering Lechuguilla or any other underground area, even the touristy parts of Carlsbad Caverns. But a caving accident leaves her dear friend Frieda severely injured, perhaps mortally, and Frieda has been calling for Anna. As the rescue team assembles and the painstaking plans are made to plumb the unspeakably dangerous depths of the cave, Anna is asked to join the team in order to calm and care for Frieda during the treacherous rescue operation. Quelling her fears, Anna agrees, and so the adventure begins.
As if the cave were not frightening enough, it soon becomes apparent to Anna, if not to anyone else, that a murderer is among them. If the team and their injured mate does not perish of natural causes in the dangerous cave, will they be murdered instead?
The plot as it unravels is absolutely riveting, and the sense of being beneath the surface of the earth for days at a time is palpable. Barr has done it again; she is a truly fine writer.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Motorhome fare? Feb. 9 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Anna Pigeon series, quite aside from their mysteries and mayhem, is a suspenseful and amusing introduction to America's National Parks. I can see visiting one new book and one new Park every year. They should be made available at every NPS newstand right along with the guidebooks (although Barr's insider view of Park administrators shows why the politicos would never allow it).
I was a bit disappointed in Pigeon #6. Her jabs at nature's despoilers are lighweight and sentimental. The author's very name puts one in mind of the wide open park spaces where many (other) of her stories and gentle pæans to conservation take place. It's too bad Barr isn't more interested in describing nature and developing atmosphere. I was distracted by her penchant for making literary allusions. Too often she breaks a suspenseful mood or short-circuits the growth of claustrophobic tension with an intrusion of Anna's self-effacing humor. I wasn't drawn to the characters. Disappointingly, Anna doesn't engage in any long talks with her insightful sister, or with a boy friend (currently lacking in her life). It's a long time to learn the caver's injury was allegedly not an accident, and even longer to generate any motivations for an attack or red herrings among those in the "closed room." As usual Anna hangs around with the suspects without police support when she'd be better off skedaddling. A cave diagram helps one visualize the spectacular cave system. Clues to the mystery are given, but I remained in the dark long after Anna's eureka moment. Maybe I misunderstood the surface geography in relation to the cave.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story!
Another exciting adventure by Barr. This time Anna is required to go underground to help a friend who is injured and trapped in a cave. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Jenifer Mohammed, Author of Resurrecting Cybele
5.0 out of 5 stars The best yet from one of my favorite authors
This is Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon at her best -- a mystery reader's dream. This book offers not only a first-rate mystery, but a fascinating look at caving and a startling... Read more
Published on May 9 2004 by R. Boston
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling
This is one of my favorites by Nevada Barr. The descriptions of the caves were chilling...made me feel claustrophobic. Ms. Barr writes in a way that makes you feel you are there. Read more
Published on April 12 2004 by Michele
5.0 out of 5 stars Nevada Barr's best yet!
Park ranger Anna Pigeon is called in to assist in the rescue of one of her best friends, who is injured while on a group expedition deep in Lechugilla, the underground caves 800... Read more
Published on March 8 2004 by Anna Stanford
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I just finished this book & it was great. So realistic. Anne had to go into a cave, a deep dark cave, and it is written so real that if you are claustrophobic this book is going to... Read more
Published on Aug. 28 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars ambivalent
I wanted to like this book, but I just can't pull it off. The literary allusions don't suit Anna's character, and it annoyed me that she'd make flawless references to the 7th OZ... Read more
Published on May 26 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as some of her others.
I found Blind Descent to be a bit tiresome at times. If I had been a caver or perhaps had a better knowledge of cave terminology, I think I would have enjoyed it more. Read more
Published on Sept. 1 2002 by Jodie Goebel
5.0 out of 5 stars A Really Well Done Mystery
Anna's friend Frieda Dierkz is injured in an underground caving accident at Luchuguilla, she asks rescuers for Anna. Read more
Published on July 22 2002 by Alicia K. Ahlvers
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Barr's best and most intriguing mysteries...
In reading one of Barr's more current mysteries, I discovered I had somehow bypassed this particular one. Read more
Published on Nov. 29 2001 by K. L Sadler
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