Agatha and Anthony Award winner Nevada Barr, New York Times best-selling author of Winter Study, enthralls millions with the exploits of roving park ranger Anna Pigeon.
The killings on Isle Royale have left Anna drained and haunted, her memories of her time with the wolf study group forever marred by the carnage on the island. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, she is on administrative leave, per her superintendent’s urging. Anna wonders if the leave might not be permanent, either by her own choice or that of the National Park Service.
The one bright spot in Anna’s life is Paul, her husband of less than a year. Hoping the warmth and the adventure of a raft trip in Big Bend National Park will lift her spirits, Paul takes Anna to southwest Texas, where the sun is hot and the Rio Grande is running high.
The sheer beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert and the power of the river work their magic-until the raft is lost in the rapids and a young college student falls overboard, resulting in an even more grisly discovery. Caught in a strainer between two boulders and more dead than alive, is a pregnant woman, hair and arms tangled in the downed branches. Instead of the soul-soothing experience they’d longed for, Anna and Paul find themselves sucked into a labyrinth of intrigue that leads from the Mexican desert to the steps of the governor’s Mansion in Austin, Texas.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I decided it was high time I listened to another Park Range Anna Pigeon mystery. I do sooo enjoy these books, not in no small part due to the narrator, Barbara Rosenblat.
Anna Pigeon has been a park ranger long enough to have experienced various jobs all over the US in some very unique national parks. Reading about these parks is always enlightening, educational, and fascinating. But the predicaments that Anna Pigeon gets herself into truly amaze. Is she a strong protagonist? Oh yeah, and then some, at times pushing disbelief, but, hey, she can handle it.
This episode follows what was apparently almost her swan song in the last book that resulted in her being put on temporary leave, diagnosed with PTSD. She is married now to Paul, so she and hubby Paul decide to take a nice relaxing raft trip in Big Bend National Park. Breathe in the clean air, absorb the atmospheric desert fragrance and experience the Rio Grande in all its glory. Should be fun.
Unfortunately, they share the raft with several college students, one of whom falls overboard resulting in the loss of their equipment, and her rescue results in the discovery of a very pregnant young woman caught in the reeds more dead than alive. The alive part doesn’t last long forcing Anna to try to deliver the baby with little more than a pocket knife.
Okay, okay, but I told you you might have to suspend some disbelief so just go with it. It quickly becomes a question of who the young woman was running from when they are suddenly dodging bullets. With a river rapidly progressing toward flash flood stage, bad guys on the ledge above, and a newborn in trouble they are forced to find ways to evacuate safely.
Mercy! No one writes a faster-moving plot than this author! The tension ramps up as the river rises and the situation more dire. I love the way the author digs into the multiple personalities—those of the college students—pampered, green behind the ears, petulant to the point you want to slap one upside the head. Their mannerisms are so well described, the inflections, body language, you can see them–hear them. Anna and Paul combine brainstorms on the best way to escape their predicament. Snatches of humor lighten a dark situation and amid dialogue so realistic it seems she must have been recording conversations somewhere.
“That vein of conversation mined out, they fell silent again.”
This one so action-packed you can’t put it down even while decrying the characters could NOT have survived the circumstances. Yeah, but it’s thoroughly engaging and entertaining. I’ve listened to a number of the books in this series, now working back from Book 19, Boar Island and Destroyer Angel, although my favorite so far might be Deep South.
If you like wild and wooly non-stop action, well-developed characters, and strong female protagonists, you’ll enjoy this series. I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts.
Genre: Women Sleuth Mysteries, Suspense
Publisher: Recorded Books
Listening Length: 11 hrs 53 mins
Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat
Publication Date: April 15, 2009
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Borderline [Amazon]
Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars
Nevada was born in the small western town of Yerington, Nevada and raised on a mountain airport in the Sierras. Both her parents were pilots and mechanics and her sister, Molly, continued the tradition by becoming a pilot for USAir.
Pushed out of the nest, Nevada fell into the theatre, receiving her BA in speech and drama and her MFA in Acting before making the pilgrimage to New York City, then Minneapolis, MN. For eighteen years she worked on stage, in commercials, industrial training films and did voice-overs for radio. During this time she became interested in the environmental movement and began working in the National Parks during the summers — Isle Royale in Michigan, Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and then on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.
Woven throughout these seemingly disparate careers was the written word. Nevada wrote and presented campfire stories, taught storytelling and was a travel writer and restaurant critic. Her first novel, Bitterweet was published in 1983. The Anna Pigeon series, featuring a female park ranger as the protagonist, started when she married her love of writing with her love of the wilderness, the summer she worked in west Texas. The first book, Track of the Cat, was brought to light in 1993 and won both the Agatha and Anthony awards for best first mystery. The series was well received and A Superior Death, loosely based on Nevada’s experiences as a boat patrol ranger on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, was published in 1994. In 1995 Ill Wind came out. It was set in Mesa Verde, Colorado where Nevada worked as a law enforcement ranger for two seasons.
The rest is, shall we say, HISTORY! Nevada’s books and accomplishments have become numerous and the presses continue to roll, so in the interest of NOT having to update this page, books, awards, status on the New York Times Best Seller List — and more — will be enumerated with the relevant books else where on this website.
The Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat has been narrating for more than 20 years, and even had the honor of performing the first book ever recorded at Audible in 1999.
She has also appeared on screen such as in the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black as Miss Rosa. Rosenblat was born in London, England and raised in New York City. Upon returning to the US, she read books to the blind for four years at the Library of Congress. On Broadway she appeared in The Secret Garden and Talk Radio. Barbara Rosenblat has narrated more than 400 audiobooks.
©2022 V Williams