RogerBW's Blog

Endangered Species, Nevada Barr 19 July 2016

1997 mystery, fifth in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder mysteries in US National Parks. After the events of the previous book, Anna's sent to Cumberland Island Park for "pre-suppression" fire duty, and a bit of a lighter posting. But she and another ranger spot a plume of smoke, which turns out to be the fresh wreckage of the island's drug-interdiction plane.

As in Superior Death there's a large cast, and they all have their secrets: in the usual mystery style that I first met in the works of Ellis Peters, once someone's secret sin has been revealed, they can be eliminated as suspects in the murder. The book's singularly lacking in sympathetic characters except for Anna herself, however, and that's a shame as it sometimes makes things drag.

The gorgeous descriptions are here, though well mixed with mentions of the dry and dusty air, and all the inconvenient small wildlife that turns up in a hot environment: the spiders, mosquitoes, snakes, chiggers, ticks…

A secondary plot involves Anna's beau Frederick Stanton and her sister Molly; while it moves the overall situation forward it never really feels connected to the main story.

Anna's solution of the mystery seems more fortuitous than by hard work (and she has neither an official reason nor an emotional one to get involved in the investigation), and there are perhaps too many red herrings, but this is still an enjoyable series entry if not one of the standout books. Followed by Blind Descent.

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