RogerBW's Blog

Deep South, Nevada Barr 31 July 2016

2000 mystery, eighth in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder mysteries in US National Parks. Newly promoted to District Ranger on the Natchez Trace Parkway, Anna finds herself the object of resentment by her time-serving underlings, then discovers the body of a young woman (who "had accrued a surprising number of reasons to be done to death for a girl of her tender years").

This book is a sharp down-turn in the tone of the series: we've had nasty people before, but never a thoroughly nasty environment. It feels not so much that people have decided to be sexist and racist, as that they've simply followed the default mindset that they've seen all around them.

There are minor errors about timetables, and whether or not people know each other, that make it fortunate they aren't a key part of the mystery. As often before, Anna walks into mortal danger without taking reasonable precautions in case she doesn't come out again. But there are two very strong action sequences here, an alligator attack and a final battle with the murderer, which somewhat make up for a lack of detective vim.

The ending is particularly abrupt even by this series' standards, and this is definitely the first of the darker mode into which the series seems (five books later) to be settling, but even so this is a decent mystery. Followed by Blood Lure.

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