From Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Barr skillfully blends sticky border issues, marital strife and politics in her exciting 15th novel to feature National Park Service ranger Anna Pigeon. Anna, on leave because she's still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder suffered in 2008's Winter Study
, takes a delayed honeymoon with her sheriff husband, a rafting trip in Texas's Big Bend National Park. The Rio Grande reveals a number of surprises, including a stranded cow and, more disturbingly, a dying pregnant woman caught in a strainer. Fortunately, the resourceful Anna is able to perform a C-section and save the baby's life if not the mother's. Things get really serious after a sniper kills first the couple's guide and then a fellow rafter. Meanwhile, at Big Bend's Chisos Mountain Lodge, Houston mayor Judith Pierson announces she's running for governor, and her security chief must worry about keeping Pierson's errant husband in line. The vivid Texas backdrop lends color. Author tour. (Apr.)
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Unable to shake the despondency and self-doubt that settled on her after her horrific experiences at Isle Royale (Winter Study, 2008), Anna is put on administrative leave. In a move designed to help her recover, her husband arranges to take her on a guided rafting trip in Big Bend National Park, which straddles the border between Texas and Mexico. Their companions are four college students. Within hours of their departure, the raft careens into rocks and is lost. The occupants have barely recovered from the shock when one of them makes a gruesome discovery: the body of a very pregnant woman caught among tangled branches. Though unable to save the woman, Anna saves the child, whose welfare becomes her mission. Unfortunately, some people have other plans for the tiny new life and the struggling rafters. A riveting series of gut-wrenching events heads the book, winding down about midway as the personalities on shore and the mystery surrounding the child come into focus. Barr is less successful than usual in masking her evildoers, but her extraordinary ability to create electrifying drama in the natural world is unequivocal, as is her compelling portrait of Anna—real enough to touch as she struggles to regain her confidence, her enthusiasm, and her sense of self. --Stephanie Zvirin