RogerBW's Blog

Blind Descent, Nevada Barr 23 July 2016

1998 mystery, sixth in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder mysteries in US National Parks. Lechugilla Cavern is a huge and largely unexplored cave in Carlsbad Caverns National Park; whena friend and fellow ranger is injured there, Anna swallows her claustrophobia and goes in to help with the evacuation.

This is not a book for the claustrophobic, except perhaps as part of exposure therapy. Just from the setup, you can work out that at some point Anna is going to be cast loose in the cave, with no light or help, and have to try to make her way through it… and sure enough this happens. That descriptive passage is some of the best material here, and indeed that Barr has written at all, and she sensibly saves it for the climactic moments; working out what the structure of the book must be is no bar to enjoying it. (Though the ending is a bit abrupt.)

There's a large cast, but this time they're well delineated, and I had no trouble remembering who was who. The mystery plot is fairly simple, and the killer gives him/herself away to the reader quite early, but there's still the mystery of how Anna is going to go about finding whodunnit for herself and making sure there won't be any more murders. For example, of a nosy Anna Pigeon.

I think this is probably the best of the series that I've read. One could start here and not miss too much, but I appreciated the sympathy I'd built up for Anna and her friend. Followed by Liberty Falling.

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