chris's Reviews > Deep South

Deep South by Nevada Barr
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Sep 08, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: anna-pigeon

After her urban adventures on New York's Ellis Island in Liberty Falling, park ranger Anna Pigeon has finally "heeded the ticking of her bureaucratic clock" and signed on for a promotion in the boonies: district ranger on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Anna's mental images of Mississippi come from black-and-white stock photos from the civil rights movement of the 1960s, so it's not surprising that she finds it beautiful but strange, its residents caught in a teased-hair, fried-food time warp. But she's got more than an unhealthy diet to worry about--as the first female district ranger on the Trace, she immediately encounters more than a few good ol' boys and local miscreants who resent her authority, especially after a 17-year-old beauty is murdered on a booze-soaked prom night near the Trace, her head covered with a KKK-style sheet.
There are plenty of reasons her friends and family might have wanted Danielle Posey dead, ranging from her $40,000 insurance policy to jealousy to flat-out insanity. Anna wonders whether the sheet's a red herring, but she can't dismiss it entirely. Though the local culture's no longer built around segregation, racism still exists at a deep level that Anna finds unsettling. Both Danielle Posey and the prime suspect--her boyfriend--are white, but Danielle had secrets her friends won't reveal. Still, no one else appears to be in danger, until a prankster--or could it be a murderer?--sets an alligator loose in Anna's garage (nearly killing her faithful black Lab, Taco) and a local preacher commits suicide.

With the help of the handsome local sheriff, Paul Davidson, Anna pulls together clues from local history, Civil War reenactors, and the Mississippi mud and kudzu. Anna Pigeon's one tough bird--she survives not only a little alligator wrestling but also a brutal attack that leads her to the truth of what happened to Danielle Posey and why. What's most fascinating is how much of her famous emotional shield she lets slip in the process.
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