Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"'s Reviews > The Rope

The Rope by Nevada Barr
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Nov 25, 11

bookshelves: all-fiction, america, av, four-star-fiction, miss-trees
Read in November, 2011

This is a fun mystery taking us back to 1995, when Anna Pigeon took her first job with the National Park Service. It's a prequel, so you need not have read any of the other books in the series before reading this one. If you're a long-time Anna Pigeon fan, you'll enjoy seeing her as a rookie. She's new to the outdoor life and not yet in law enforcement.

Recently widowed and drowning in despair, Anna takes an entry-level job at Lake Powell. As yet she has no wilderness savvy. On her day off she hikes out into the desert with no hat and not enough water or food. When she doesn't return, her co-workers think she has decamped and headed back to New York City. Seasonal employees don't always stick around, so no one thinks much about it. Especially because her belongings have also disappeared from her room.

As it turns out, Anna has been attacked and dropped into a deep hollow or "jar" in the sandstone. She wakes with almost no memory of what happened, and no way to get out of the jar. As she faces an ordeal of hunger and thirst, expecting to die, she uncovers some alarming clues and begins to discover how resourceful she can be in a crisis.

Who has it in for Anna, and why? Who removed her things from Park Service housing? Was it a fellow employee? Did she see something she wasn't supposed to witness?
When she reappears at the Park Service compound and reports her experiences, the investigation makes almost everyone suspect, including Anna herself. Jenny, her tough, no-nonsense housemate, turns out to be her greatest ally. Jenny also develops a mad crush on Anna, but keeps it to herself for obvious reasons.
The girl crush was the one thing in the book that was a little overdone. The workplace diversity theme is important, and the unrequited adoration is amusing, but it received a lot more page time than necessary. (I should add that this could just be my own bias, as I prefer anything resembling romance to be more in the background when I read a mystery.)

The Rope has all the entertaining elements we've come to expect from the series. Anna Pigeon gets herself into one scrape after another and seems to encounter more than her share of diabolical characters. As a former NPS employee, Nevada Barr has insider knowledge about the life. This installment also includes an important ecological message about the serious problem of human waste disposal at Lake Powell. Be sure to follow those proper pooping protocols!
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Stephanie Thanks for the review...I wasn't aware of this book and will have to seek it out. I am a longtime fan of the series, but the last one I read (Hard Truth) got a bit too psychologically twisted and disturbing for my taste (I haven't read Burn yet for that reason). This sounds like a return to the Anna Pigeon novels I've enjoyed in the past.


message 2: by Erika (new)

Erika I read one of the books in the series, and couldn't quite get into it. Maybe I will try this one.


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Stephanie, I've found some in this series to be a bit disturbing, too, but I can't remember which ones. I had given up on the series after being disappointed by the one that takes place on the Rio Grande. Burn has not been well received. I took a chance on this one because the prequel idea sounded fun.

Erika, I'm not yet familiar with the sort of mysteries you favor. The quality in this series varies wildly. Some I really like, others I can barely get through. Normally they would be a little too light and implausible for me, but the national parks angle makes them fun.


message 4: by Erika (new)

Erika I originally picked up theone I read, because I love hiking, so I thought I would like it. It was okay, but just not quite right for me. I like all sorts of mysteries, but at the moment I am addicted to Val McDermid, especially her Tony Hill series.


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" I've just been looking at some McDermid books here on GR and I can't figure out if they'd be too gruesome for me. I used to handle the gruesome stuff better, but in the past few years I've lost my taste for it. I'm not picky about reading a series in order, so I'll probably pick one up at the library, just whatever happens to be there, and give her a try.


message 6: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Proper pooping protocols...How wonderfully alliterative! :D
I read one of these Pigeion books a long time ago and liked it, but you know I'm terrible at keeping up with series. I always forget about them and go on to something else.


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Yes, Rachel, it's a delightful alliteration, for which I cannot, alas, take credit. It's in the novel. I couldn't resist including it in my review. :)


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