Anna Pigeon, in her career as a National Park Service Ranger, has had to deal with all manner of crimes and misdemeanors, but cyber-bullying and stalking is a new one. The target is Elizabeth, the adopted teenage daughter of her friend Heath Jarrod. Elizabeth is driven to despair by the disgusting rumors spreading online and bullying texts. Until, one day, Heath finds her daughter Elizabeth in the midst of an unsuccessful suicide attempt. And then she calls in the cavalry---her aunt Gwen and her friend Anna Pigeon.
While they try to deal with the fragile state of affairs---and find the person behind the harassment---the three adults decide the best thing to do is to remove Elizabeth from the situation. Since Anna is about to start her new post as Acting Chief Ranger at Acadia National Park in Maine, the three will join her and stay at a house on the cliff of a small island near the park, Boar Island.
But the move east doesn't solve the problem. The stalker has followed them east. And Heath (a paraplegic) and Elizabeth aren't alone on the otherwise deserted island. At the same time, Anna has barely arrived at Acadia before a brutal murder is committed by a killer uncomfortably close to her.
BOAR ISLAND is a brilliant intertwining of past and present, of victims and killers, in a compelling novel that only Nevada Barr could write.
Nevada Barr is a mystery fiction author, known for her "Anna Pigeon" series of mysteries, set in National Parks in the United States. Barr has won an Agatha Award for best first novel for Track of the Cat.
Barr was named after the state of her birth. She grew up in Johnstonville, California. She finished college at the University of California, Irvine. Originally, Barr started to pursue a career in theatre, but decided to be a park ranger. In 1984 she published her first novel, Bittersweet, a bleak lesbian historical novel set in the days of the Western frontier.
While working in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Barr created the Anna Pigeon series. Pigeon is a law enforcement officer with the United States National Park Service. Each book in the series takes place in a different National Park, where Pigeon solves a murder mystery, often related to natural resource issues. She is a satirical, witty woman whose icy exterior is broken down in each book by a hunky male to whom she is attracted (such as Rogelio).
3.5 For many years now I have followed Anna Pigeon from National Park to National Park. Often learning interesting things about the parks themselves and being treated to some darn good storylines. This story finds Anna in Acadia National Park where she is filling in as the man in charge is on vacation. Characters from her last story, Health and Elizabeth as well as Gwen come to Boar Island because young Elizabeth is being cyber bullied and Heath wants to give her some escape time. So that is one storyline. The second is a lobsterman, abusive husband murdered but his wife seems to have an ironclad alibi. Anna of course is in the middle of both.
While the story was intriguing, I was disappointed that so little about the park itself was related. Also I felt the ending, or the wrap up was a bit too much, overwritten, somewhat unbelievable. Really how much can one person take and keep on fighting? Still I love these books, the characters are unique and will definitely read the next, wherever it is located.
We’ve read Barr’s entire bibliography over the years, including her most famous series about Park Ranger Anna Pigeon. These were invariably entertaining novels for three reasons. First, each took place in a different National Park, about which the descriptions were so vivid the tales almost read like travelogues. Secondly, the protagonist Anna was such a great character – middle-aged; like us, full of flaws and warts, unlike the “wonder women” so common to other female authors; but persistent and resourceful. Finally, the mysteries had just the right mix of suspense and plausibility.
All those elements were virtually abandoned in “Boar”, similar to the mostly disappointing prior novels “Burn” and “Destroyer Angel”. While the story is set in Maine’s Acadia National Park, we learn virtually nothing about it – and why any rational person would pick the useless rock of “Boar” as a get-away is baffling. Moreover, Anna, whose husband Paul is totally absent, is virtually a bit character for much of the book, which features two returnees from “Angel”, paraplegic Heath and her bratty daughter Elizabeth, the latter an obnoxious teenager we hardly wanted to revisit. Whether Barr was using these two actors to illuminate her thoughts on wheel-chair-bound persons and cyber-bullying contributed nothing to our enjoyment of the novel. Lastly, the tale about a retiring ranger gone bad when she commits a murder to help establish a fantasy life with a recently discovered twin sister was so bizarre, and the action so far-fetched, that it was difficult to keep turning pages. Thankfully it all eventually ended.
Maybe “Bore Island” would have been a better title. Meanwhile, maybe it’s time for Anna herself to think about “pulling the pin” – the trouble with a successful formula of sorts, is that when you abandon it, you risk abandoning your audience!
This was fun for me because it takes place down the road from me in Maine’s Mount Desert Island. Our park ranger hero Anna Pigeon is assigned temporary duty at Acadia National Park. Her close friends, the feisty paraplegic Heath and her adopted teenaged daughter Elizabeth (Anna’s goddaughter), key characters from Barr’s “Destroyer Angel”, have come to stay nearby on at an old lighthouse on the high cliffs of a tiny island offshore from the park. Accompanying them is Aunt Gwen, who is a pediatrician in her 70s with a lot of connections in the area. They are hoping an extreme case of cyberbullying of Elizabeth back in Boulder, Colorado, will settle down. Unfortunately, the abusive stalker has followed them and seems intent on driving Elizabeth to suicide or pursuing more direct malevolence. Anna is distracted from concentrating on this threat by the murder of a lobster fisherman at his shack in a seaside residential area surrounded by the park. His abused wife, Paulette, is an obvious suspect, but she is conveniently at a bar at the time.
Intersecting these plot elements is the story of another park ranger, Denise. She is recovering from abandonment by her husband Richard, a park administrator, in favor of a younger model. The blow to her self-esteem is amplified by the happiness the couple finds in their newborn baby, a hurt made worse by his having forced Denise to have an abortion years before. Denise has become a stalker herself by a hidden camera in their home, full of hateful envy of a family she desperately needs to make up for her upbringing in the foster care system after her mother gave her up when she was a toddler.
The theme of these threads relates to the different ways we try to construct a family which can fulfill what is missing from our own past and protect it from the evils and injustices of the world. The story effectively highlights the helpless situation of families face when a child is subject to cyberbullying. It also helps us understand when abuse and threats to the dream of a family leads one to seek justice in violent forms of revenge. The choices one makes to face the dangers to one’s family has a lot to do with what values we are able to glean from our own damaged past. How to break the cycle in the biblical precept of the sins of the fathers being visited in punishment on the children? At one point, Barr gives us Anna’s thoughts on one way of understanding the nature of human evil: The mystery of humanity wasn’t that people were starkly evil or magnificently good but that they were both all the time. Sanity and insanity dwelt side by side in the human brain. Only when one grew so big it overshadowed and starved the other was it noticed. People tended to either keep their crazy to themselves or gather with others having the same delusion. …If enough people believed a thing, it was declared sane. One person speaking to invisible beings was a nutcase. A thousand was a cult. Ten thousand, a religion.
Despite the interesting theme, I agree with a lot of reviewers that this novel fails to tap the her usual strength in wilderness and national parks as a venue for human aspirations or corruption. Anna’s usual triumphs from ingenious sleuthing or survival skills get little play as most progress in resolving the two cases comes down mostly to accidents and coincidences. Even so, this is a worthy beach read as a psychological thriller with adequate twists and turns to keep the pages turning. For anyone considering a read from this series I would recommend picking one involving a park and a subject of interest. I don't think series order is a significant factor in choice.
Barr remains a terrible writer. I don't think she's been reading my reviews, which contain constructive criticism. "Use your PRONOUNS, Nevada," I yell helpfully as I page through these ghastly tomes. These are actual complete sentences from Boar Island:
Vision cleared. Chest muscles loosened. Tears started. Machinery clanked. Flesh thudded against the ground. Shoulders were broad and arms muscled. Lips were chiseled. Annoyance returned.
There is one of the worst crimes anyone can commit, using lay instead of lie. There is a dog ________ on the hardwood on p. 4. I can't even type it, it's so obscene. If I were president people would go to reeducation camps for this.
To make up for not knowing any pronouns, Barr invents new verbs. Lots of new verbs, all of them horrifying. "Anna was pelting across the green, sprinting toward the coffee shop." "Anger geysered up Denise's throat..." Did you know that "to snug" means "to park a car"? "Anna snugged the Crown Vic neatly..." "The Miata snugged into darkness by the boathouse." After a few hours of this I mattled my shoulders and vricked a few Germknödel and haighfunked right into the loam.
She thinks Brad Pitt would be a fantasy object for a 16-year-old. Brad Pitt is 52.
She sets a scene in a hospital room with a newborn lying on its stomach. We have known that infants should sleep on their backs (stomach sleeping in the first year is a major risk factor in SIDS) since the early 90s.
So on to the plot. There are two intertwined plots, one idiotic, the other not half bad. The idiotic plot is that in Colorado, where Anna Pigeon and her buddies live, Elizabeth, the 16-year-old daughter of Anna's paraplegic friend Heath is being cyberbullied to the point that she considers suicide. At this moment, Anna receives a summons to fill in for another park ranger at Acadia National Park in Maine. I have been waiting for Barr to set a novel at Acadia, which is my favorite park and really the only one I know well (or at all). Barr blew this opportunity, since very little of the action actually takes place in the park (how do you set a novel there without once mentioning Cadillac Mountain?? Or the Park Loop Road? The Beehive?). Barr even has Anna tell her friends that Acadia is in northern Maine, when actually it is in southern Maine....did she even look at a map?
Heath, Elizabeth, and the elderly Aunt Gwen all inexplicably accompany Anna to Acadia in order to get away from the cyberbully. But naturally the cyberbully follows them to Acadia, because why wouldn't you make your crimes as difficult to carry out as possible? Elizabeth, ensconced on the fictional Boar Island, begins getting threats from the bully. This plot, which involves endless discussions of Heath in her wheelchair, which is called "Robo-Butt," and another contraption which has been designed for her which allows her to walk in a stumbling manner, called "Dem Bones," is beyond tedious, even when it ends in an acid attack at the fictional Cecelia's Coffee Shop in downtown Bar Harbor.
One day Elizabeth disappears from Boar Island and Heath begins to freak out. When Anna arrives, she deduces that Elizabeth has been upset over two live lobsters that will be eaten, and has carried them down to the water in a pail to free them. Elizabeth and the dog, Wily, have disappeared into the Atlantic. It's nearly dusk, and Anna sets out in a boat to find her, along with Heath, because it's always good to have a paraplegic with you in a boat in case anything bad happens. After searching for awhile, they hear barking and spot Wily in the life jacket and Elizabeth holding his head up. What happened? Well, a boy Elizabeth had a crush on took her for a boat ride, but then decided to leave her and the dog in the water rather than return them to Boar Island. (The water temperature of the Atlantic Ocean just off the island is 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.8 Celsius) all summer long.) For normal people this might result in criminal charges, but everyone decides this boy is terrific and soon the strangeness of his decision is forgotten.
The plot which is actually vaguely interesting involves another female ranger, Denise, who has been working at Acadia for years. She was recently dumped by her live-in boyfriend, also a ranger, and is enraged and bitter. The boyfriend is now married to a much younger woman and they have a newborn baby, while the boyfriend had "forced" Denise to get an abortion. Denise runs into her identical twin (they were separated at birth and haven't seen each other ever) and kills the twin's abusive husband. She begins to plot a fresh start in life, but the twin isn't as eager. The ex-boyfriend naturally changed all the locks when Denise moved out, but he forgot about the doggy door! This thrilled me. Denise uses the doggy door to go in and out of the house when the married couple is not paying attention; she also gives a figurine containing a camera to the baby, which enables her to secretly livestream everything happening in the baby's room.
Aside from a few mentions of Somes Sound and Otter Cove, the fact that Anna is staying in housing at Schoodic Point, and one gratuitous trip Anna makes to Thunder Hole, Barr never really makes Acadia's grandeur felt. She unconvincingly has Denise live in an apartment building on the north side of the island with an underground garage; I don't think there are any underground garages on Mount Desert Island. I'm not even sure there are multistory apartment buildings; I looked at real estate listings. Every rental I saw was a vacation rental.
I've bought every Anna Pigeon book in the series since they first came out. I'm not going to do that anymore. Here's why:
1. Boar Island was a diatribe against cyberstalking in particular and social media in general wrapped up in a convoluted, overwritten mystery. Authors generally do best when they "show, don't tell." Barr did a lot of "telling" disguised as thoughts of the characters and narrator. There were points when I felt as if I were reading a screed by Nevada Barr against: cyber-everything, hospitals, religion, etc. etc. etc.
2. I don't mind dark and twisty tales sometimes. This was definitely dark, unnecessarily and over-the-top so. Some of the scenes just felt like Barr got up in a bad mood one morning. By the end, I honestly didn't care whether the characters (including Anna) died or not. Mainly because they weren't "real." (Especially the sisters.) The whole main plot and subplots were riddled with unbelievable coincidences (e.g. Anna being saved at one point), unbelievable dialogue, unbelievable characters.
Spoiler: Here is the one that caused me to quit caring: Elizabeth is being threatened, cyberstalked. Her family has taken her half-way across the country to remove her from the situation. When she goes missing for hours and has possibly been taken from the island by boat, Anna doesn't want to call the NPS, police, anyone for help in searching. Why? Because cyberstalking is so new, law enforcement doesn't know how to handle it. That may be true, but I'm pretty sure law enforcement knows how to handle a possible abduction of a 16-year-old from a small island in the Atlantic. Seriously.
Nevada Barr’s Ranger Anna Pigeon novels are typically set in national parks. I say “typically” because although her newest book, Boar Island, sends Anna to Acadia National Park in Maine, she spends very little time there.
When Anna is assigned to Acadia as Acting Chief Ranger, her friend Heath, teenage daughter Elizabeth (“E”), and Heath’s Aunt Gwen accompany her from Colorado to stay on Boar Island in order to escape E’s cyberstalker. This made for a fairly tense and stimulating scenario, especially given the fact that Heath is paraplegic and she adopted Elizabeth after she was rescued from an abusive pseudo-Mormon cult, and Gwen is a 70-something-year-old retired pediatrician. With Anna nearby and her daughter protected by a fortress on an island, Heath feels relatively safe. Uh-huh. Right.
The secondary plot was the one I had more problems with. Denise Castle is a long-time ranger at Acadia. One night she meets a woman in a bar, and both their lives change forever. Need I say that with Denise being a ranger and all, the two plots cross and Anna becomes enmeshed in investigating both schemes. I started out feeling a bit sorry for Denise, but she is one strange woman. Once she hooks up with Paulette, things get even more bizarre. I’ve seen soap operas that were less predictable and over-the-top, frankly.
Meanwhile, I did enjoy the events that unfold on Boar Island. Ms. Barr writes with humor, particularly when describing Heath’s electronic assistive devices, Dem Bones and Robo-Butt. There is humor, compassion, and trickery. I enjoyed learning more about Heath and E, whom we met in the previous novel, Destroyer Angel, which I really enjoyed. Like this one, it did not focus on a park, but to me, it seemed much more believable.
Even the cyber bullying mystery ballooned into a sort of slapstick conclusion, which was a letdown too. For the most part, I did like the portions with Anna and her friends. I found myself wanting to rush through the Denise and Paulette chapters, as they were two sorry women.
Barr’s characters in Boar Island are dealing with abuse and are searching strong family connections. Rarely are families perfect. Barr’s two examples in this book certainly bear this out. Heath, Elizabeth, Aunt Gwen, and friend Anna are perhaps as “normal” as any other. Denise and Paulette? Well….The same can be said for novels. I just marked most of Nevada Barr’s books “read,” and I’ve enjoyed almost all of them very much. While it held my interest, this one compares less favorably.
And again, another of my favorite writers goes on my "Don't Bother" list. This latest addition to the Anna Pigeon series is dull, flat and way too dependent on coincidence. Anna and her friends are merely two-dimensional paper dolls. The worst part was, instead of getting into the story, the reader (me) just hung around on the outside being told what happened.
I liked this one more than a 3 star rating would suggest. If it had been a stand alone read, I'd have given it a 4. But as an entry in the Anna Pigeon series, I did have some problems with it. I like Nevada Barr and I like this series, but like some authors who seem to take sadistic (or is it masochistic) delight in torturing, tormenting, or otherwise hurting their main characters, Barr has gone to this well a few times too many in my opinion. I mean, how many times and how many different ways can a character be attacked, kidnapped, and/or get the tar beaten out of them? A normal person in Anna's position would seriously consider another career option besides park ranger after all she's been through. In this book, this kidnapping scenario happens not once but TWICE! Anna's a bright lady, but come on, Nevada Barr, she's starting to look a bit dim...or at least, epically unlucky. Another thing I question is the author's treatment of a juvenile character who was introduced as a permanent character several books ago. This girl endured awful abuse and horror as a child, and in this one she is cyber-bullied, sexually molested, stalked, and physically threatened. Enough with this piling on of misery on wonderful characters. So, other than that, it was pretty good.
In ended my review of Destroyer Angel, Barr’s eighteenth installment of the beloved Anna Pigeon series, with this request …
“Nevada, please come to New England and write a book that takes place in the Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, ME. It would make a perfect backdrop for a magnificent tale!”
She heard me, she listened! Boar Island takes place in Bar Harbor, ME although Acadia National Park was indeed more of a backdrop than the primary setting of the book …more about that later.
What starts out as a tale of cyberbullying and stalking quickly escalates into a narrative of bewildering psychosis, bitter hatred, revenge and murder … it’s really, really good!
Sixteen year old Elizabeth Jarrod, adopted daughter of paraplegic Heath Jarrod, attempts suicide albeit a half-hearted attempt with a disposable Lady Schick . So far, far out of character for the intelligent, confident, optimistic and self-assured Boulder high school senior, Heath reaches out to her best friend Rocky Mountain National Park ranger Anna Pigeon and E’s great aunt Dr. Gwendolyn Littleton for help. A cyberbully has set his sights on Elizabeth with disturbing, sexually explicit photos and character assassination cast about on social media … student blogs, Facebook … fellow high school students? An unwelcomed encounter with Sam Edleson, E’s best friend’s Dad, seems to be the triggering event. It appears Christian fundamentalist Mr. Edleson has brought along some unseemly baggage with him from his time living in Idaho. Elizabeth struggles with depression as the online onslaught of hateful lies and threats continues.
Anna has recently been assigned as acting chief ranger at Acadia National Park for twenty-one days while Acadia’s chief ranger is in California assisting with forest fire containment. Gwen has some close friends who reside on Board Island just outside the park so Gwen, Heath and Elizabeth head to Maine with Anna to escape the cyber attacker, give Elizabeth some recovery space and figure out what to do next.
Acadia Ranger Denise Castle is angry and full of venom. Nocturnal lobster rustling in four different lobster patches is her small act of defiance and revenge against the park she once loved and Assistant Park Superintendent Peter Barnes, who shared a house with Denise for eleven years before he broke off the relationship. That was three years ago but the rage continues white hot!
The chance meeting in the bar at the Acadian Lodge changes everything for Denise Castle. The petty lobster theft, the incessant anger, her absent soul … everything took on a whole new perspective when she met Paulette Duffy. Paulette was Denise’s soul! Was this Denise’s long lost identical twin, separated at birth and given up for adoption? What kind of person could give away her daughters without a thought or hesitation and allow Denise to be adopted by assholes she simmers? The newspaper advertisements collected by Paulette over the years seemed to prove it … seeking identical female twins separated at birth, born March 3rd, now thirty seven years old, send postcard to P. O. Box in Bar Harbor, ME, family legacy. The similarities between Paulette Duffy and Denise Castle are uncanny and undeniable. Denise sees in Paulette the abuse she endured shuffled from foster parents to foster parents, her anger after the accident that killed her boyfriend right before they were to elope when she was sixteen, the rejection by Peter Barnes and his subsequent marriage to Lily, all simmering insider her like a dormant volcano twitching to explode.
I love how skillfully Barr negotiates the confluence of the seemingly disparate and peripheral events of the cyberstalking of Elizabeth Jarrod and the discovery of lost sisters into an intersection of cataclysmic outcomes. Like an image that slowly comes into focus, by the end of this story all I could do was marvel and mutter, “ Of course it would end that way. That makes perfect sense!”
Women play the all main roles within this story, under the omnipresence of psychosis. Psychosis induced by disease … psychosis induced by horrible men! Denise Castle’s behavior and mental state is so off, so out of synch with reality but at the same time kind of plausible, for a while I wondered if Paulette was one of Denise’s multiple personalities. Well done Nevada!
If the story wasn’t so engaging and intriguing, I might have been disappointed by the absence of activity in the park itself. I visit Acadia every summer and despite so many visits, I always find some part of the park unexplored … an obscure trail, a hidden meadow, a small path to an enchanting pond. I expected to hear more about some of the trails and mountains in the park itself. But the landmarks mentioned did bring back many fond memories of Bar Harbor … Somes Sound, Otter Creek, Isle au Haut, Schoodic Peninsula, even Mt. Desert Hospital! We walk past the hospital on our way to the Bar Harbor Shore Path after an evening meal at the Poor Boy’s Gourmet.
Hummm … for your next Anna Pigeon story Nevada … how about the Green Mountains of Vermont or maybe the Cape Cod National Seashore? Thanks for a wonderful adventure in Maine!
I've been reading the Anna Pigeon series for a long time now. This is the 19th book in the series and I haven't got bored with it yet. Several books ago Barr introduced a couple of new characters Heath, a paraplegic and Elizabeth, who is now Heath's adopted daughter. In this book, Elizabeth is being cyber-stalked by an unknown person. The cyber-stalking becomes so serious that they decide to take Elizabeth to Maine and stay on a friend's secluded island, Boar Island, which is also near to Anna's new post at the Acadia National Park. The move unfortunately doesn't help the situation. Not only does the stalker follow them to Maine, but a murderer is also in the area.
One of the things that I like most about this series is that the stories are all set in or around National Parks so there is always an outdoorsy, wilderness back drop. This story also had all the makings for a cool setting- the remote deserted island and Acadia National Park but I didn't feel like the setting was exploited to its full potential. Yeah the characters stayed on this "island," but most of the story seemed to take part in the city and we never got a full view of the Island or the Park. I just didn't get my normal dose of the outdoors like I was hoping for. It was still an entertaining story though. Barr always keeps you enthralled with multiple story lines in play and this one was no different. I just hope she reverts back to a more natural setting in the next book and gives us the full park and outdoor experience like she usually does.
*I received this ARC from Goodreads FirstReads & the Publisher, Minotaur Books, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
I usually really enjoy Anna Pigeon books. I liked this one better than the last one, which I found way too dark. I enjoyed this one, overall, but would have liked more description of Acadia National Park, which is why I started the series originally. I also found the ending to be much too abrupt. I needed an epilogue or something, as it kind of just ended and I was shocked when I turned the page and it was over.
Not very good. I'm done with this author. Also the big publisher is inept at copyreading. There are dangling modifiers all over the place in both of these last two books. For gods sake, people, do your jobs.
I have to say I like mystery/detective novels where the POV alternates and where you are given some insight into the mind of the perpetrator –Sue Grafton’s T for Trespass comes to mind. I also appreciate several threads of intrigue going on at one time and seeing how they interweave and eventually meet.
Usually Nevada Barr’s books focus on Anna the Ranger and a murder or disaster in a particular National park. Barr takes a slightly different tack here with one thread of the story focusing on the cyberbullying of a sixteen year old goddaughter of Anna, while the other thread takes on a different and more ‘traditional’ form of bullying that turns into something more. Barr really gets into the heads of all involved and this is very much a character driven story with Anna actually taking a back seat.
Nonetheless I found it riveting from the get go and a great improvement on the last Anna Pigeon novel I read, Endangered Species, which seemed to be following a pattern I was too familiar with. The Acadia National Park is simply but evocatively described as the Parks always are in these novels, so too is the menace and mania of the perpetrators and the relationships between the majority female cast, allowing us to empathize and care for each one despite their faults. Anna ends up in the middle of it all by the end but that’s just fine as she ranks as one of my favorite tough, take no s**t, female characters.
I only saw the first 10 percent of this thing. I listen to audio books while riding my exercise bike. My last audio book was by Tana French, and I loved it so much that I increased my exercise time even though I hate exercise. This time I am only half done and I feel like quitting early.
I'm not one to abandon a book before the 25 percentile, so I grabbed my phone and came to GR to see what other readers thought. I have been a fan of this series for a long time, so if my friends said positive things, I'd dig in and stay the course. Instead, I found Lobstergirl's hilarious take down. It's the most fun I've had today. And the fact that the author is a former Park Ranger that messed up the description and location of the park itself...!?
I'm going to guess that Barr has written a story for every one of her favorite national parks and now, at #20, is reduced to Google searches. This doesn't bode well for future entries.
I have a stand alone novel of hers for review, and I have a hunch it will be significantly better than this. I loved Bittersweet, and I believe I've read others she's done too. As much as I enjoyed the early entries in the Anna Pigeon series, it appears to be played out.
I expected Nevada Barr to write a simple mystery and here she writes a completely noir mystery with killings, kidnapping and what have you. She's taken on a family atmosphere with Elizabeth, Health, and Gwen. And she leaves off with a mystery of what just happened. I'm surprised that Ann is still alive.
Nevada Barr is one of the best novelists out there. Anna Pigeon, the park ranger, is one of the best heroines ever created for mystery type fiction. The national park system is one of the best locales ever used in novel writing. BOAR ISLAND fulfills this atmospheric quality that Nevada Barr offers, being set in Acadia National Park on the Maine coast. Anna Pigeon stars again, but Barr has also brought along some other characters from a previous novel, so the heroism is spread around a bit. But all good and likable and very human characters with good and bad traits. There are two stories intertwined, which Barr does very well, one involving cyber stalking of a teenage girl, Elizabeth, by a deranged and jealous wife, and a second involving identical twins, separated at birth, and both suffering from a legacy of debilitating disease, who meet each other in midlife for the first time. One of them, very sick but unaware of her condition, takes on murder and mayhem without realizing just how crazy she is. Barr is fantastic at getting into the head of her sometimes bizarre characters, and through this medium she notches up the intensity of her novels. At times in this one, I could barely stand to read the next page because it was so intense. Great writer, fine book!
I have a few of these books but this is the first time that I have actually sat down and read one. Unfortunately this book did not capture my attention with either the storyline or the characters. In the beginning this was a different story as I was curious about the story and what I was reading. Yet the problem was that there was not one character that I gravitated towards and the story seemed jumbled at times with no smooth flow to it. There was little pieces of information thrown out there but I could not see an connection. Although the book itself did read fast. Even the ending did not get me excited. As I said I have some other books by this author so I will probably give this author another chance before making my final decision on the author.
(2 1/2). It feels like quite a while since we have had an Anna Pigeon book, but for the most part, the wait was worthwhile. Anna has gotten darker over the years. The interesting thing about this one is that it really doesn't revolve around Anna as much as she is intertwined into the spiraling storylines. Maine is a great setting and Nevada Barr (as usual) makes good use of the cultural and geographic feel of the area to set the tone for most of what goes on. One part of the plot is pretty easy to discern, but the other is really edgy and fun (in a sick way). The last third of this book is really good. I will be there for #20.
Almost unreadable...A cyberstalker follows a girl from Colorado to a national park in Maine. Hello! What is the definition of CYBERstalker? And the second plot about evil twins...just...what? I read the first few books in this series years ago and I think I liked them, but what happened to Park Ranger Anna Pigeon, like, fighting poachers? Or tracking a murderer through the wilderness? Also, the writing is just terrible.
This book feels like it took a long time to finish. I liked the setting of the book and I really liked the stories that eventually came together but the book was just too wordsy for me. The author could have gotten to the point without dragging out the details as much as she did.
I love the Anna Pigeon books. This has a dual storyline both of which kept me interested and reading. Up to the usual high standards with good writing and a tight plot. The reason I have given 4 rather than 5 stars is because I felt the Park aspect was completely left out of this book. Otherwise, a solid 5 stars.
Nevada Barr has developed a tried-and-true pattern of storytelling with the novels featuring her fan-favorite protagonist, National Park Service veteran Anna Pigeon. She also tries to stretch the boundaries on that style, lest the reader (and, I'm sure, the author) get complacent or bored.
In Boar Island, the19th Anna Pigeon novel, Ms. Barr runs parallel stories. One involves a cyber-stalker menacing Anna's goddaughter, while the other addresses a murder just outside of the boundaries of Maine's Acadia National Park, where Anna has 3 weeks of temporary duty. Both tales are told from a different perspective – the former, a traditional “whodunnit” (albeit in the computer age), while the latter is a “we KNOW who did it, now how do they get identified and caught”, a style familiar to viewers of the late Peter Falk's Columbo television show.
Both stories successfully stand alone; it feels almost like an episode of the old Love Boat series where we are watching two independent tales being played out, albeit with a common protagonist rather than shared supporting characters. When one stops to consider how many parallel stories each of us participate in on a daily basis in real-life, this concept brings a very true-to-life aspect to the novel. Typically in novels, when parallel stories are introduced, they turn out to be two heads of the same Hydra. In this case, while it is impossible to totally separate them given the common protagonist and the small area where both are occurring, they stay remarkably separated through most of the book (I won't say all – maybe they end up being tied together after all, maybe they don't, no spoilers here.) Oh yeah, and those of you who read the books to find out how Anna can be injured during the investigation will not be disappointed.
I had a few issues with the “suspense” and “background” aspect of the novel. They felt too drawn out to me – bringing a sensation of boredom rather than background, and impatience rather than suspense. Mind you, this could be a factor of the narrator (or director) of the audio version I “read”, OR the simple fact that I only had a 2 week loan on the book from the library with no renewals, and had a ticking clock hanging over my head to get it finished and returned. OR perhaps the author took some necessary plot points and simply overdid them and I happened to be particularly sensitive to the overworking.
I did like the author relocating most of the action to Acadia National Park – one of the jewels of the National Park Service that I've actually had the privilege of visiting. Her descriptions of both the Park and nearby Bar Harbor provided some pleasant reminiscing.
Anna Pigeon is on the move again, to another temporary assignment at Acadia National Park near Boar Island in Maine. But she is carrying a burden: housing also on the island is her friend Heath and her adopted teenage daughter Elizabeth, who was being cyberbullied after a friend's father makes a move on her. The move, however, does not stop the harrassment.
Then added to the mix: a couple of murders of lobstermen. One apparently was over thefts from another's lobster traps, the other looks almost like a domestic disturbance, only the wife had a solid alibi.
Anna stumbles into dark suspicions and it soon ramps up with new threats for all. This is end of the seat reading and an exciting story.
Absolutely hit the mark on this one, development true to the characters, a rivetting read. We return to Ranger Anna Pigeon, her new assignment is in Maine's Acadia National Park. It's a short stint, 21 days but very, very convenient.
Anna's best friend Heath and Heath's adopted daughter Elizabeth need to leave town as Elizabeth has been targeted by a cyber-stalker with horrible personal consequences to the 16 year old. It's not as if she's not survived enough horror in her young life, now here's more piled on. Heath is at her wits end when her aunt, Gwen Littleton offers them a trip to Maine, a change of scenery and a location totally away from any civilization, the lighthouse on Boar Island, a privately owned and secluded getaway. A safe haven, or so they think, they jump at it. Elizabeth's not thrilled at the idea of being cut off from her electronic civilization but she's 16, what choice does she have. Events follow them, how is anyone's guess, but the stalker is still in contact.
As Anna arrives at the park for work, she hardly has time to unpack when she's involved in the investigation of a murder. Her new partner, Denise Castle doesn't ring quite true but Anna can't figure it out, she simply doesn't have enough cycles left with the worry over the threats to Elizabeth and missing Paul. It's very strange all around her. Denise is not trying to draw attention to herself but she's trying so hard that in and of itself, draws the attention, just like the flicker in the side of your eye. Anna knows something. The murder put down to the current war over turf between the lobstermen, it seems there is a territorial dispute going on plus lobsters being stolen and these are hard working and strong opined men, not afraid to take the law into their own hands if need be. As if that's not enough, Elizabeth's stalker has followed them to this remote and desolate place.
The whole geography is pretty tough on Heath, the paraplegic, lighthouses aren't generally that wheelchair friendly. She's also testing a walking device that she calls dem bones which allows her some movement, she can walk but the range is limited in terms of power. The description of her strength and courage in the face of the huge disabling circumstances are humbling, to say the least.
The description of the deteriorating lighthouse, lives of the lobstermen and their community, and the exquisite location is stunningly beautiful.
I have loved many of Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon series. I love that they are set in National Parks. and that Barr gives such great descriptive detail of the landscape. I have added several parks to my list of places I want to visit because of her books. I also love the intensity of the stories she often spins. I don't think I will ever forget the fear I felt as we (well, just Anna, really) crawled through tunnels deep under the public areas of Carlsbad Caverns, and then the light is lost--or being trapped in a pit in desert heat, near Glenwood Canyon; or the bone chilling cold on a winter night out tracking wolves in Isle Royale. However, this one was somewhat disappointing. For one thing, Anna almost disappears for large parts of this novel. Instead the focus is on characters that also played a prominent part in the last book in the series, #18. And when Anna does reappear, she efficiently wraps up the several mysteries that have been introduced, but there is little of Anna the person. There is almost no mention of her husband, and none of her sister. Anna seems to have little personal life at all in this story. I am not opposed to bringing new characters into her stories, but have felt such a bond with Anna, that this book seemed lacking in that sense of connectedness. A final disappointment is that this book, which is supposed to feature Acadia National Park in Maine makes almost no mention of the park. It is lacking Barr's usual visual detail about the setting, and I was really hoping to learn more about this park, which I hope to visit at some time. Most of the story occurs on another island near Acadia, and the National Park really plays no part in this story. I chose this book for one of the challenges in the group A Book for All Seasons, topic #3, Island reading, because it is such a favorite series, and it is set on an island!
In this book Barr takes us to the Acadia National Park in Maine. Some of the beauty of Maine comes through in the story but I wished there were more descriptions of the Park. I did enjoy the scene of the crumbling lighthouse and the information Barr provided about the plight of the lobstermen.
Anna is acting Chief Ranger for the Park on a twenty-one day assignment. Heath Jarrod, who is paralyzed; aunt Gwen Littleton, a pediatrician; and sixteen year old Elizabeth, who is Heath’s adopted daughter and Anna’s goddaughter, accompany Anna to Boar Island. The main theme of the book is about a cyber-bully and cyber-stalking, primarily of teenagers.
The book is well written and the pace is very fast. The plot twists and turns with two main plots intertwining. I have enjoyed this series and learning about the various national parks and the life of a ranger. I noted this is the 100th anniversary of the National Park System.
I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is narrated by one of my favorite narrators, British actress, Barbara Rosenblat. Rosenblat has won forty Golden Earphone Awards. She has won eight Audie Awards (more than any other female narrator). For those not familiar with the Audie, a comparison could be thought of as the Audie is the Oscar for the audiobook narrators. Rosenblat was the 2010 Odyssey Medal winner by the American Library Association and was voted the Voice of the Century by the Audiofile Magazine.