More intensely personal than her earlier adventures, this story opens with an already distraught Anna Pigeon, Park Ranger, attending on her deathly sick confidant and sister in the urban jungle of NYC, while bunking with a friend on Liberty Statue Island. This story has greater philosophical, or morose, depth to the character, full of ruminations, and glorying in the decay of once urban splendor. I don't recall such a passionate dislike of cities on Anna's part. The scenes shift between New York harbor and the uptown hospital, islands of familiarity connected by the subway. She effectively communicates feeling very alone in a crowded city, her sister dying, a lover wandering, a roommate hostile. Barr employs the current ghost fad, but to her own ends to create a creepy and vaguely sinister Ellis Island.
Many clues to the subtly developing mysteries are dropped, but I wrote most off as just part of a coincidental ghost story given for atmosphere. There's even one amazing point where Anna actually lists all the clues flat out, as the eureka moment flashes into her bruised head, although much remained unclear in mine. Very effective. Barr's writing has improved steadily, abetted by the fact each story is different and appropriate to wildly different National Park settings: mountain, lake, cliff, forest, beach, cavern, and now historical statue. She gives us some of the local insider lore in Anna's conversations, but skillfully avoids potted "ranger lectures." Hmm, what's left to do...river, military, museum, scenic, volcanic.... Anywhere I look forward to the next.