Anne Holcomb's Reviews > The Rope

The Rope by Nevada Barr
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's review
Mar 28, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: mysteries, nature, creepy, fiction, listened-to-the-audiobook
Read from March 28 to April 08, 2012

THE ROPE is author Nevada Barr's prequel to the Anna Pigeon mystery series. This volume will be a treat to fans of the series, because we get to see a young Anna who's plunked straight from the streets of New York into the Lake Powell recreation area in the Southwest. She's still reeling from the death of her husband Zach, dresses in all black, and is pale and scrawny. Her co-workers in the Park Service are all immediately obsessed with the mysterious theater type in their midst - so much so that it strains credulity - some love her, some can't stand her.

So, when Anna goes missing, everyone first thinks she's fled back to New York. Actually, unknown assailants have knocked Anna out, drugged her, mutilated her leg and trapped her in a solution hole, a natural prison formed by the desert landscape. While Anna is trapped in the hole, she learns to understand and appreciate the solitude of the desert and the sensations of being alone in the natural world, and finally, to think quickly and make a plan for her first daring escape.

Here, the author returns to her wonderful descriptions of the outdoor landscapes that I missed SO much in the last Anna Pigeon book, BURN (set in the urban landscape of new orleans). All the descriptions of the natural area are wonderful and vivid. It's also a treat to see how Anna's theatre experience helps her in many of the situations she encounters as she solves her first mystery, and to see her grow from the pale urban theater geek into a buff, crime-solving ranger.

However, this book still has the darker undertones (domestic abuse, rape, evil acts, constant tension between women and men) that characterize all of Barr's more recent books (WINTER STUDY and beyond) - they are not "light" mystery reads like the earlier books in the series are and some readers who lean more to the cozy-mystery side may not enjoy that.

If you have been thinking about starting this series, start now with THE ROPE! And, if you're already a fan, you'll enjoy reading Anna's "origin story" - it will only make you love her more : )

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