Park ranger Anna Pigeon, the fortyish heroine of Barr's popular series, is back, tracking grizzlies through the unforgiving landscape of Glacier National Park as part of a scientific investigation that's outlined with more detail than anyone who's not totally fascinated by these awesome animals will care about. In fact, the description of what actually goes into the lures set to attract the bears so they can be tagged and counted is guaranteed to rumble the strongest stomach--but that's just the back story in this newest Pigeon adventure. When the mutilated body of the stepmother of one of the bear trackers turns up in a remote corner of the park, and it becomes clear that she met death at the hands of a human rather than the claws of a grizzly, Anna goes on the hunt for the killer.
Barr's strength is in depicting the natural surroundings in which her heroine finds inspiration, solace, and comfort, and she limns the gorgeous landscape of Glacier with consummate skill. But her plotting leaves much to be desired, and when she finally reveals the killer's identity, motivation, and especially his accomplice, the discriminating reader may be tempted to throw this book at the nearest teddy bear. The trick ending is too much to stomach, unless you're a grizzly who'll eat (almost) anything. Up to that point, however, there's much to appeal to Barr's fans: another beautifully drawn portrait of a piece of America's vanishing wilderness and a few hours in the company of an appealingly cranky heroine whose appreciation of it knows no bounds. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
The latest entry in this excellent series featuring National Park Service ranger Anna Pigeon is one of Barr's best. Anna has been assigned to work temporarily in Montana's Glacier National Park, where she seems more at home than in her recent forays to East Coast parks, and learns how to do DNA studies on wildlife by working with a biologist, Joan, on a study of grizzly bears. Anna, Joan and a young, inexperienced volunteer, Rory, are sent out into the park's wilderness areas to set lures for the grizzlies. They use a powerful and nasty-smelling concoction, mixed with cow's blood, that the grizzlies find irresistible. Once the bears rub up against the trees or barbed wire that have been coated with the lure, samples of their DNA can be collected from the hair and skin left behind. In their remote campsite one night, Anna and Joan amazingly survive a grizzly bear attack on their tents unscathed, only to find that Rory has gone missing. As park rangers and rescue teams hike the mountainous park looking for the missing teenager, they find instead the dead body of a woman whose face has been horribly mutilated. Rory is an obvious suspect, as is the bear who attacked the camp. Barr focuses on the wilderness park and its endangered population of grizzlies rather than on Anna's personal life and problems, and this makes for a tightly plotted, satisfying read. The author's masterful descriptions of the natural world immeasurably enhance an exciting, suspenseful story that is sure to flirt with bestseller lists. Mystery Guild main selection and Literary Guild alternate selection.
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