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After her urban adventures on New York's Ellis Island in Liberty Falling, park ranger Anna Pigeon has finally "heeded the ticking of her bureaucratic clock" and signed on for a promotion in the boonies: district ranger on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Anna's mental images of Mississippi come from black-and-white stock photos from the civil rights movement of the 1960s, so it's not surprising that she finds it beautiful but strange, its residents caught in a teased-hair, fried-food time warp. But she's got more than an unhealthy diet to worry about--as the first female district ranger on the Trace, she immediately encounters more than a few good ol' boys and local miscreants who resent her authority, especially after a 17-year-old beauty is murdered on a booze-soaked prom night near the Trace, her head covered with a KKK-style sheet.
There are plenty of reasons her friends and family might have wanted Danielle Posey dead, ranging from her $40,000 insurance policy to jealousy to flat-out insanity. Anna wonders whether the sheet's a red herring, but she can't dismiss it entirely. Though the local culture's no longer built around segregation, racism still exists at a deep level that Anna finds unsettling. Both Danielle Posey and the prime suspect--her boyfriend--are white, but Danielle had secrets her friends won't reveal. Still, no one else appears to be in danger, until a prankster--or could it be a murderer?--sets an alligator loose in Anna's garage (nearly killing her faithful black Lab, Taco) and a local preacher commits suicide.
With the help of the handsome local sheriff, Paul Davidson, Anna pulls together clues from local history, Civil War reenactors, and the Mississippi mud and kudzu. Anna Pigeon's one tough bird--she survives not only a little alligator wrestling but also a brutal attack that leads her to the truth of what happened to Danielle Posey and why. What's most fascinating is how much of her famous emotional shield she lets slip in the process. --Barrie Trinkle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Since 1993 and Track of the Cat, Barr has been writing about National Park ranger Anna Pigeon. Each novel has been set in a different park, but one constant has been how the gutsy and deeply independent Anna has drawn her strength from, and maintained her sanity by, living among some of the most glorious and remote landscapes in America. Now, having decided that she needs to think about her financial future, Anna has snagged a promotion to district ranger. The catch is that she must leave her beloved Western parks behind and move to the Port Gibson section of the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi. There's no wilderness here, and she feels overwhelmed by the humidity, the streams of tourists and campers and the ever-encroaching kudzu vines. But then Anna discovers one teenage girl in a prom dress dead drunk in an old cemetery and another murdered in the deep woods of the Trace, with a KKK-type hood and noose tied over her head. Anna and the local sheriff uncover plenty of suspects and motives as they team up to investigate. As the first woman ranger in the district, Anna must also learn to deal with male subordinates who challenge her authority. Whether Anna, for whom the solitude of the wilderness has always been essential, can find her equilibrium remains to be seen. But Barr produces another suspenseful and highly atmospheric mystery, illuminated even in this new setting by her trademark lyricism in writing about the natural world. Author tour. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Barr has a light touch but is not frivolous with her heroine or with death (unlike, for example, some of Sharyn McCrumb's Appalachian Scots stories). Barr is good at letting you build up a picture of the suspects (and she subtly make everyone so), then have Anna yank you into something else with a tiny new fact, and then do it again. That should keep you on your toes! This story has everything: prejudice, murder, kids, alligators, Civil War, crazies, punks, a cat and dog, and several cases of maybe-its-love.
I am sure Barr has great ability in using descriptive language but perhaps should use that talent in travel books, not mystery novels.
As a stand-alone book, it's pretty good. There are two major areas of narration, the transition to a new part of the country, and a nasty murder to solve practically out of the gate. As murder mysteries go, it's OK. We find a body, track down acquaintances, and then get to figure out suspects and motive. As a murder mystery is usually a murder mystery, I always try to add what I learn about the world surrounding it as part of making it interesting. In this case, it's the world of Civil War enactors. We get just a glimpse of their world, but it's covered in much more detail, and much more interestingly in Elmore Leonards' "Tishomingo Blues".
The other area is the transition. I would have liked to have seen a longer novel where this area is explored. We do get some conflicts, especially because she's a woman. But they get into the murder right away, where and this part is left at the wayside. I would imagine that the topic will be explored in more depth in "the further adventures", which would get the SERIES a four-star rating. But as this detail is lacking in this particular book, I hold it to three stars.
In this installment, our intrepid park ranger has at long last allowed herself to be promoted. When the book opens, Anna is on her way to the Natchez Trace Parkway, which runs from Jackson to Natchez, Mississippi. There, she will assume the reins of district ranger in a land still fraught will male chauvinism and general distrust of females.
Nothing daunted (but secretly afraid of the very different flora and fauna--eg, gigantic spiders), Anna makes her way to her new job, along with her complaining cat Piedmont, and her dog Taco, a golden retriever in previous books who has suddenly morphed into a black lab (Barr's editor apparently doesn't know the difference). No matter. Once on the Trace, Anna is hit full force with two disgruntled male subordinates who refuse to accept her authority, a handsome sheriff who makes her hard heart flutter, a group of Civil War buffs who stage re-enactments in Anna's territory--and a murder.
Barely able to unload her Rambler (which has mysteriously morphed from her much-loved Honda--another editorial boo boo) of her worldly possessions, Anna finds herself immersed in the particularly nasty murder of Danielle Posey, a popular high school senior, whose beaten body is found in the wilderness tied to a tree and draped in a crudely makeshift Ku Klux Klan hood. Anna is thrown into the tangled web of the murdered girl's life and a mystery as thick as the fast-growing kudzu that blankets the region.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I just finished reading this book & it was so hard to put down. When Nevada Barr writes a book you feel like you are right there with Anna. Read morePublished on Jan. 24 2003
Hey, this is only the 2nd Barr book I have read. The other one is liberty falling, and though the entire world appears to find that to be her best work, i would give that one only... Read morePublished on Sept. 23 2002 by David Myers
I loved this book. I never saw the ending coming. It kept me on the edge. I highly recommend this book.Published on Sept. 1 2002 by Jodie Goebel
Who better to write about the south but someone who has been there and also worked the very same job in the very same location. Read morePublished on June 24 2002 by Charles Hickey
Anna Pigeon is on the move again - with cat Piedmont and dog Taco in tow. Her new assignment is in the Deep South of the Natchez Trace in Mississippi. Read morePublished on June 12 2002 by cousette copeland
This book enthralled me and kept me coming back for more.
Maybe it was the fact that it is set in the most "southern" part of the south. Read more
I've read all of the Anna Pigeon mysteries by Nevada Barr and this one takes the cake. Anna makes her first permanent move to a new park, the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi,... Read morePublished on Jan. 24 2002 by Libby Taylor