RogerBW's Blog

Hunting Season, Nevada Barr 08 November 2014

Tenth in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder mysteries in US National Parks. Back on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi, a body's been found in an old plantation house, left in a manner suggestive of sexual homicide.

This is the first of the novels that's returned to a previous location, and this is both good and bad. Earlier books have tended to set the scene with lyrical descriptions of something that's new both to Anna and to the reader, and there's rather less of that here.

What replaces it is, all too often, a grinding sense of the nastiness of the South. Whether it's the deer-poaching good ol' boy hunters, the local funeral home director angling for a position as sheriff, or the long legacy of slavery, the sense of grime is inescapable. All right, these haven't always been light books, but before now there's generally been an air that grottiness is an exception rather than a way of life. That the Parkway is basically a human construct doesn't help, since there's rather less of the wilderness at which this series excels.

There's misdirection, as there is in any mystery story, but this time somewhat heavy-handed: when someone says "we know A, which might among other things imply B" and someone else says "ah, B, well that must mean C", we know we're being sent down a false trail. Everything does fit together in the end, but I was slightly annoyed at being led to the correct conclusion by the writing style rather than just by the evidence; after all, knowledge that this is a mystery is information not available to the in-story detective. It feels as though I wasn't able to play fair.

But that wasn't enough to spoil my pleasure in the book. Nor was Anna's trusting of a person she really shouldn't, with plenty of signs to warn her off; she gets into a bad situation largely by blurting out something she shouldn't over an open radio, and that seemed very out of character for her. Yes, all right, she gets herself out of it, and that's good.

There's a moderate amount of action, mostly spaced out among scenes of detection and routine work which sometimes let the pace sag a little. A scene on the road is particularly effective.

In terms of series continuity, there's still very little of Anna's sister Molly, who's largely dropped out of the series since Liberty Falling. We do get more of Anna's relationship with sheriff/priest Paul Davidson, introduced in Deep South, and this develops in a satisfying manner without distracting from the main story.

Followed by Flashback.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Previous in series: Blood Lure | Series: Anna Pigeon | Next in series: Flashback

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1