Jerry B's Reviews > Flashback

Flashback by Nevada Barr
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's review
Jul 23, 2010

really liked it

Two Stories from Dry Tortugas - murder and mayhem mark both!

Barr's 11th Anna Pigeon story, like all her books except her last ("Hunting Season"), which took place in the same locale as "Deep South" {in the Natchez Trace}, has a most unusual setting: the Dry Tortugas National Park in the Florida Keys. Little more than a placeholder for Fort Jefferson, a Union Prison from Civil War days, this small strip of land becomes temporary duty for Pigeon while the former supervisor is on mental health leave. Soon, Anna is embroiled in danger and intrigue - a diving incident nearly proves fatal, and in quick succession she is drugged and locked up by thugs to keep her out of the way of a smuggling operation.

Meanwhile, the current story alternates with one Anna is reading from some hundred-year-old letters of a distant relative who is similarly telling a story about alleged Lincoln assassination prisoners befriended by her younger sister at the fort. Suspense builds as we begin to wonder how both stories turn out, which naturally enough occurs in the last two chapters.

Barr has a track record of telling a good tale, with a non-stereotypical, believable leading lady, with more than a modicum of risk-taking, crime, and escape as a dominant theme. "Flashback", referring to both the modern and the old story, is no exception and reveals our heroine at her best, while treating us to the old story as a pastime. While at first we were a little irritated at one story constantly interrupting the other, we were soon enough captivated by both to overlook the somewhat disjointed plot flow. Moreover, in the end, not everything turns out peaches and cream; while both stories come to a logical conclusion, both have factors that dissatisfy and disappoint, a reflection of true life instead of Hollywood. We suspect this latest Nevada Barr will find favor with both her extensive fan club as well as new readers. For a somewhat different forty-ish heroine in wildly different geographic settings, with danger at every turn, give Anna Pigeon and Nevada Barr a try!

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