I judge mysteries on how fast they hook me. And I was hooked on "Track of the Cat," the first in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, within one page.
The fascinating plot revolves around the intrigue and in-fighting among the park rangers on the border between Texas and New Mexico. Who knew? Even among diehard environmentalists such as Anna and her coworkers, political pettiness exists. That's why, when a fellow ranger is found supposedly murdered by one of the park's protected cougars, Anna goes from 1 to 10 on the rage meter. She doesn't believe it's a lion kill--and she knows that the intricate politics and age-old fighting between ranchers and rangers will result in a sanctified lion kill.
Racing against time, Anna sets out to solve a murder that only she believes is a murder. The more she finds out, the more sinister the seemingly beautiful and pristine canyons and mountains become. Two more rangers disappear...and are ultimately found dead. Just what is going on, and how can Anna stop it? The solution, which comes at the very end of the book, is completely unexpected, and quite satisfying.
Barr's talent does not stop with the mystery, however. Her unique ability to draw the reader completely into Pigeon's milieu is seemingly effortless. I could feel the intense heat of the Texas desert, feel the rocks under my feet, feel the need for water as Anna and I hiked miles and miles through wild and achingly beautiful country. I felt that I was there alongside her, sweating with the heat and the knowledge that a crazed murderer was stalking us.
Take this book with you to the beach, to the mountains, to the pool, or just sit under a tree and sip some iced tea. It's a quick, fun, and fascinating read for any mystery lover!