Monday, March 10, 2014

The Rope by Nevada Barr

Reviewed by Kristin

Anna Pigeon is a national park ranger who Nevada Barr has been writing about since 1993, beginning with Track of the Cat.  After adventures in a variety of locations, including the Guadalupe Mountains, Carlsbad Caverns, Ellis Island, the Nachez Trace Parkway, Yosemite and more, Barr takes Anna back in time to her very first job within the national park system.  After the sudden death of her young husband, a broken-hearted Anna takes a seasonal job at the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area in Page, Arizona.  New York City’s sidewalks were the closest to wilderness Anna had experienced to that point.  So, when Anna goes missing ten days after her arrival, her co-workers think she has just gotten spooked and run back to the big city.

But Anna didn’t run back to New York.  On her day off, she takes a hike, ill-prepared as she is.  After borrowing a hat from a co-worker, Anna sets off with less than a liter of water, a map, and a plant identification pamphlet.  Wearing black jeans, a black t-shirt and thin black tennis shoes, Anna is soon overheated and wondering how in the world what looks like a mile walk up a canyon could be so much more difficult than tramping all over Manhattan.  Sunburned, out of water and without any food, Anna is soon lured into a trap.

Anna wakes and finds herself down a hole, naked and defenseless.  As she tries to recall how she got there, she realizes that someone is working against her.  Someone is providing food and water to keep her alive but helpless in isolated captivity.  Anna eventually does escape (we had to know that up front, since we know there have been many other adventures written, didn’t we?) and then goes on a quest to figure out who did this to her, as well as to figure out how to be successful in her new life as a national park service seasonal worker.

This latest book in the Anna Pigeon series was very enjoyable as it provided a look back into how she began working in the national park system.  Seeing a younger Anna closer to the pain that drove her away from big city life showed me more of what formed her character.

I always enjoy reading about the variety of landscapes as Anna moves from one national park setting to another.  The constantly changing background keeps the series feeling fresh, as Anna meets new people in new locations.  Barr is a compelling author who moves the story along seemingly effortlessly.  Her next book in the series, Destroyer Angel, is set in the northern Minnesota woods, and due out in April 2014.

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