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Hard Truth (Anna Pigeon Mysteries) Hardcover – March 24, 2005

182 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Ranger Anna Pigeon, Nevada Barr's series heroine (High Country, Flashback), meets her match in this engrossing new thriller set in Rocky Mountain National Park. Heath Jarrod is a climber now confined to a wheelchair after an accident that left her crippled, angry and depressed: "For a few months after the fall, she'd played Christopher Reeve, pretending to be as optimistic, as cheerful, but she was a lousy actor and ... she'd rung down the curtain. The first of many curtains." But there's a second act in her future that begins when two terrified, half-naked little girls stumble out of the woods and into Heath's "handicamp"--they've been missing for weeks, but are too traumatized to tell Heath and then Anna where they've been, or what happened to the third girl who disappeared with them. Beth, the younger, wins Heath's heart; with Anna, she pursues an investigation that leads to a bizarre, quasi-religious cult that's set up its headquarters just outside the park's boundaries, and the youth group leader who'd taken the girls into the wilderness and returned without them. Is Robert Proffit the gentle, spiritual man Anna's seasonal law enforcement agent Rita Perry thinks he is, or a twisted rapist and probable killer whose prayers for the innocent girls in his charge mask his evil nature?

The mysteries keep piling on, as one gruesome discovery leads to another, and Heath begins to realize that even though she's lost the use of her legs, the same tenacity that made her one of the world's leading mountaineers has even more rewarding summits to achieve. Barr builds the suspense skillfully and drives the narrative to a bloody, violent, and unexpected conclusion in one of her best mysteries to date. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

In Barr's taut 13th thriller to feature Anna Pigeon (after 2004's High Country), the 50-ish National Park Service ranger leaves her new husband, Paul, back in Mississippi, to assume a new post in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park, where she encounters a serial killer and a strong, determined woman, Heath Jarrod, much like herself. Heath, a former ice climber now confined to a wheelchair after a near-fatal fall, feels depressed, isolated and helpless. She's camping in the national park with her physician, who's also her aunt, when a pair of battered young girls, two of three missing from a nearby religious retreat, appear at the campsite. Heath and Anna at first dislike one another, but join forces to break the silence enforced by the retreat's domineering head and discover why the youngsters vanished, who took them, where they were and what happened to the third girl. Barr skillfully weaves contemporary issues of parental responsibility, religious and political separatism, and sexual abuse into her harrowing story. She carefully sets the scene in the first part of the book, which builds to a spectacular climax that pits Anna against evil incarnate. Noted for her precise plotting and atmospheric descriptions of nature, Barr again proves her skill in putting believable characters in peril against a backdrop of breathtaking scenery.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Series: Anna Pigeon Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; 1st edition (March 24, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399152415
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399152412
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,125,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nevada was born in the small western town of Yerington, Nevada and raised on a mountain airport in the Sierras. Both her parents were pilots and mechanics and her sister, Molly, continued the tradition by becoming a pilot for USAir.
Pushed out of the nest, Nevada fell into the theatre, receiving her BA in speech and drama and her MFA in Acting before making the pilgrimage to New York City, then Minneapolis, MN. For eighteen years she worked on stage, in commercials, industrial training films and did voice-overs for radio. During this time she became interested in the environmental movement and began working in the National Parks during the summers -- Isle Royale in Michigan, Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and then on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.
Woven throughout these seemingly disparate careers was the written word. Nevada wrote and presented campfire stories, taught storytelling and was a travel writer and restaurant critic. Her first novel, Bitterweet was published in 1983. The Anna Pigeon series, featuring a female park ranger as the protagonist, started when she married her love of writing with her love of the wilderness, the summer she worked in west Texas. The first book, Track of the Cat, was brought to light in 1993 and won both the Agatha and Anthony awards for best first mystery. The series was well received and A Superior Death, loosely based on Nevada's experiences as a boat patrol ranger on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, was published in 1994. In 1995 Ill Wind came out. It was set in Mesa Verde, Colorado where Nevada worked as a law enforcement ranger for two seasons.
The rest is, shall we say, HISTORY! Nevada's books and accomplishments have become numerous and the presses continue to roll, so in the interest of NOT having to update this page, books, awards, status on the New York Times Best Seller List -- and more -- will be enumerated with the relevant books else where on this website.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 62 people found the following review helpful By R. Skinner on April 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I love Nevada Barr novels. Having said that I found this one very difficult to get through. I am a middle school science teacher during the school year and a National Park law enforcement ranger in the summer. I have worked in two of the parks Ms. Barr has written about. I love Ms. Barrs writing style and the novels have done a great job in educating or introducing people to National Parks and the National Park scene. Although I found the location of this story beautiful, the subject was extremely dark. Normally I love getting lost in her novels for hours at a time but this time I couldn't wait to get back to reality. When brutality of the nature in this book happens to adults (even in fiction) it is bad, but when it happens to children it is horrific. If there was an educational bent to this story or some moral to be used to improve society maybe I would understand it better. I didn't see one in this book.
I'm not writing this to try to influence Nevada Barrs next novels content. I want more people to read her books. The more people caring about their national parks the better. I'm writing this because I don't want people to be turned off if this is their first book of hers they are going to read. If you haven't read any of her books I recomend starting with Track of the Cat and following the growth of Anna Pigeon through her successive stories,
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65 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Corinne H. Smith VINE VOICE on March 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Park ranger Anna Pigeon has taken an assignment in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, unfortunately many states away from her new husband Paul back in Mississippi. This is Anna Pigeon's darkest encounter yet, with the danger buried not in Mother Nature, but in the embodiment of some truly sinister human beings. Her near partner-against-crime is an unlikely woman in a wheelchair. Heath Jarrod is a former rock climber who is now paralyzed after falling from a cliff. The two are both such strong women that they don't immediately hit it off. But both are making every effort to right the numerous wrongs in the situations they find themselves in. The issues here are disturbing but far too real: kidnapping, child abuse, religious cults, serial killings. Serious stuff.

Anna realizes who the perpetrator is with one third of the book to go. She spends the rest of that time in an attempt not to catch the person, but making every effort to get away and get safe. And it's a long struggle in the remote wilds of Rocky Mountain National Park.

I was captivated by the turn of events and the characters and read the last half of the book with both curiosity and dread. I like to be mystified, but I don't like to be scared. I don't watch horror movies and I don't usually read dark and sinister stuff. That being said, I think HARD TRUTH may be the last Anna Pigeon book for me. I've read each book in the series and have enjoyed them overall, especially as they are set in such wonderful surroundings. But the darkness and the violence is getting too much for naive, little me. I wish Ms. Barr and Anna well, and maybe our paths will cross again someday.

HARD TRUTH is an intriguing, suspenseful, well-crafted story that could all too easily be true. Be afraid, be very afraid!
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51 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Tucker Andersen VINE VOICE on April 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My daughter was a seasonal (park ranger) in several national parks during and after college; she enjoys the Anna Pigeon mysteries written by Nevada Barr, as do many of her friends who have served in the National Park Service. Since being introduced to the series, I have found the books interesting but not compelling; thus, I have not read the earliest books in the series and so will not attempt to present a detailed comparison of HARD TRUTH to the author's previous novels. I was anxious to read this book based both on the fact that my wife became involved enough in the story to read it almost non-stop and also because the area in which the story occurs, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK and the surrounding locale, has been the subject of several trips by us to visit our daughter, who lived for a while in Estes Park and whose ex-husband still is a ranger in the National Park. Thus, while the map of the area that is thoughtfully provided by the publishers inside the cover of the book will allow a reader unfamiliar with the Park to visualize the relative adjacencies of the locations described; the fact that we had actually driven several of the roads, hiked the trails, and visited the lakes where the action occurred certainly leant a connection and provided a sense of the terrain which furnished an additional sense of intimacy with the main characters in the story.

The story opens with Heath Jarrod (a paraplegic forty-one year old who has obviously not yet come to terms with the result of the ice climbing injury which fractured her third lumbar vertebra several months ago and left her dependent on a wheelchair for her mobility) setting up camp with her aunt Gwen and dog Wiley (real name Prince Theo III) with their RV in Rocky Mountain National Park.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Molly O'Halloran on August 23, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have been a huge fan of the Anna Pigeon mysteries. The hard truth about Hard Truth is skip it. It is a very unpleasant experience.

The graphic representation of child abuse and cruelty in this book still makes me ill.

What I've loved about the Anna Pigeon series is that I felt like I got a good sense of the national park where the story took place with an appreciation for the natural beauty of the area. I doubt Anna spent more than a night in Rocky Mountain National Park. Not only does she completely miss the unique character of the park but the park has no necessary link to the story. The whole thing could have taken place in urban Chicago.

I have been picking up Nevada Barr books as fast as I could find them. This book, however, was truely repulsive. I'll be much more cautious about investing a part of my life in her next book.
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