Flashback Hardcover – Feb 11 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
When it comes to a vibrant sense of place, Barr has few equals, as deliciously demonstrated in her 11th Anna Pigeon novel (after 2002's Hunting Season), set in little-known Dry Tortugas National Park, 70 miles off Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. Anna takes up her new post on Garden Key, home to Fort Jefferson, a notorious Union prison during the Civil War, after fleeing a marriage proposal from just-divorced Sheriff Paul Davidson. As she goes about her duties, Anna quickly becomes ensnared in one life-threatening situation after another. Anna's fans expect no less; all her postings somehow turn dangerous. Indeed, the contrast between the natural beauty of the landscapes and the human evils within them is a recurring theme. But this one has an added twist: a mystery concerning alleged Lincoln assassination conspirator Dr. Samuel Mudd interweaves with current crimes. In a coincidence best left unscrutinized, Anna's great-great-great-aunt was the wife of the fort's commanding officer, and her letters, relating a story of intrigue and murder, have surfaced. The two stories are told in alternating chapters, and only Barr's skill keeps this familiar device fresh. The pitch-perfect 19th-century phrasing in the letters makes it easy to forgive the occasional over-the-top prose in the modern scenes. But this is a quibble. Those who already admire the doughty National Park ranger will rejoice in this double-layered story with its remarkable setting, passionately rendered; new readers have a treat in store.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
When Anna Pigeon flees a marriage proposal for ranger service on Garden Key in Dry Tortugas National Park, she finds that the past (the island was once a prison) and the present (an exploding boat scatters unidentified body parts) are eerily conjoined.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
The "two mysteries in one" format of Flashback could be refreshing, if the two mysteries were connected in more ways than the location. The historical mystery, contained in the letters of Anna's collateral ancestress Raffia, was too transparent for me. I guessed right away what caused the abrupt change in the behavior of Raffia's husband Joseph. Something else, although small, bothered me about Raffia's tale. Raffia and Tilly are sisters who have a large age difference. Raffia is 38 while Tilly is 16. I can buy that but then there is another sister, Molly, who is even older than Raffia. When their parents died, Tilly was 5. By that time Raffia must have been 27. Was she still unmarried at 27? I got the feeling that she lived in the same household with Tilly and helped raise her and that Molly, having assumed the role of the family matriarch, oversaw Raffia's upbringing in some way. Unless I mixed something up, these numbers do not add up.
In conclusion, if you are already a Nevada Barr's fan, you won't want to miss Flashback. If you have not read other Nevada Barr mysteries, this book is not the best introduction.
As the book opens, Anna is temporarily supervising Fort Jefferson, on Garden Key in Dry Tortugas National Park off of Key West. The last supervisor of the park seems to have had a mental breakdown and is off on the mainland getting treatment after seeing ghosts and whatnot flitting around the fort. Anna has gone about as far as she can go in the Park Service to escape her own demons that haunt her by accepting this posting. She has taken the assignment so that she has time to think about a marriage proposal from Paul. Paul is still a minister, now recently divorced, and wants desperately to marry Anna. But he knows that her answer to pressure is to run as far as she can as fast as she can and has vowed to give her the time she needs to think about his offer. While she does love him, she isn't sure she is ready to once again try marriage as has been made abundantly clear several times in earlier books in this series.
Those issues remain for Anna and with little else to occupy her mind, she begins to think that she understands why the previous Supervisor went mad. Supervising a skeleton staff and very few visitors, Anna begins to look for something to occupy her mind instead of thinking about her life. Her sister Molly has sent to Anna to read a large packet of letters that were written to Anna's great grandmother, Peggy, from her sister Raffia who was married to a Captain station at the Fort shortly at the end of the Civil War. That same time saw the arrival of Dr.Read more ›
I managed to borrow Flashback from my local library, and read it in a few days. There were two factors that lead to only giving it four stars:
Being from Australia, I have little background knowledge of the American Civil War, and couldn't tell whether the characters such as Dr Samuel Mudd were based on real people or were fiction. I also found similar distance issues with Liberty Falling, as there were specific details that as a non-American, I couldn't quite relate to. I felt a little bit alienated whilst reading Flashback, and wondered whether I should undertake some research about the American Civil War before I continued any further. Nevertheless, I finished it without needing to.
Secondly, I also found the alternating chapters between Anna's activities and that of Aunt Raffia and Tilly hard to follow. A chapter would often end in a dramatic moment, and then the next would follow with a completely different tone. By the time that chapter was finished, I had forgotten what was going on with Anna, (or Raffia), from two chapters ago. As I read it over a few days, this meant a little bit of backtracking occasionally to remind myself of where everyone was at.
I still think that Firestorm and Track of the Cat are the best in the series, and Blind Descent the most vividly descriptive.
I would recommend any of the Anna Pigeon series to mystery readers, those interested in female leads, and even more so, those interested in descriptive stories set in wilderness areas.
Most recent customer reviews
No doubt about it, the man can simply write! This was a great story, with great characters, and a great plot! Highly recommend it!Published on April 30 2004 by Tim Beazley
The reading was tedious and the forced metaphors were annoying; ex., her fingers were like white spiders. The book was loaded with these stupid metaphors. Read morePublished on Feb. 21 2004
This was painful, both my Wife and I are fans of the 'Anna Pigeon' series, so I thought to get the un-abridged CD for a trip across country, what a mistake! Read morePublished on Nov. 15 2003 by Pequegnat
My girlfriend got me hooked on Nevada Barr. The setting, mysterious coincidences and twist add up to a pretty fun read. Just the ending disappoints a little.Published on Sept. 25 2003 by Garrett Clark
I have read all of the Anna Pigeon books, and this is by far the best. Could be that I like stories on or in the water and stories about the Civil War--and this one had both. Read morePublished on July 17 2003 by J. Kreuser
I love Nevada Barr & have all of her books. But this one was not her best. It starts out very slow. But poor Anna is almost killed again near the beginning of the book. Read morePublished on June 27 2003
My interest in reading Nevada Barr is the fun of reading a story in the various National Park settings; learning about the parks while enjoying a good mystery. Read morePublished on May 26 2003 by Patricia Kramer