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Liberty Falling Hardcover – March 15, 1999

3.8 out of 5 stars 137 customer reviews
Book 7 of 18 in the Anna Pigeon Mysteries Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Imagine Nevada Barr's delight in discovering that there is actually a national park right smack in the middle of New York City--Gateways Park, which encompasses Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. She could continue her splendid series about park ranger Anna Pigeon and still do some serious shopping at Bendel's and Berghdorf's, the kind of stores you don't find in the New Mexico cave setting of Blind Descent (her last adventure). The ploy works: Barr is probably the only mystery writer who could see a natural environment under New York's slick and sleazy skin.

Anna is in Manhattan to look after her sister Molly, seriously ill with pneumonia and a kidney infection. Pigeon moves in with a ranger friend who has a place on Ellis Island. There's not much natural wildlife unless you count her feathered namesakes, but she still manages to find a lot to contemplate--especially the suspicious suicide of a teenage girl who leaps from Liberty's ledge, followed not long after by the security guard who tried to stop her. But Anna's snooping puts her own life in jeopardy. She survives several attacks and a near drowning--events as frightening as any of the fires, floods, and hurricanes from her past adventures. Barr neatly ties up her plot--ending with a brilliant chase scene across the waters from Manhattan to Liberty Island. What next for Anna? Is there a national park in Las Vegas? --Dick Adler

From Publishers Weekly

Tenacious park ranger Anna Pigeon leaves the country wilderness for the wilds of New York City, where her sister Molly is hospitalized, in this seventh installment of Barr's popular series (Blind Descent, etc.). Although Anna is on leave, she gets involved in the investigation of two murders. An unidentified child falls to her death from the Statue of Liberty. The main suspect dies. Anna is attacked. An actress is fatally bludgeoned on Ellis Island. Anna's conviction that these events are connected leads to a cross-country search for a right-wing fanatic. As expected with Barr, the narrative teems with memorable characters-among them Charlie DeLeo, the caretaker of the Statue of Liberty's torch, and Anna's former lover, FBI Agent Frederick Stanton, now smitten with Molly. Though Barr ties up the many subplots in an action-packed finale, the mystery is slow to develop and there's little doubt that Molly will recover. Barr's atmospherics remain potent, however. Her evocation of the isolated, exotic nature of the two famous tourist attractions is a particular treat, bringing home how nature is inexorably reclaiming buildings and records a stone's throw from bustling Manhattan. Mystery Guild main selection; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 321 pages
  • Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons; 1st edition (March 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399144595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399144592
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,115,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I have liked and admired Anna Pigeon since I read Nevada Barr's first book in this series but this is the first time that I really -liked- Anna as a person. Maybe it's because she's not officially on duty or maybe it's because she's in New York, but the Anna in "Liberty Falling" is much more approachable and human than she has been in the previous books.
The story itself is first-rate with expert plotting and character development. One of the best things about the last two Anna Pigeon mysteries is that you really have to pay attention to what's going on -- Barr interweaves very subtle clues throughout the story. The only thing I didn't like about this book was the endless descriptions of the rides back and forth between the city and the monument but that's a small thing. This book is most definitely worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover
This writer can really evoke a sense of place. Her descriptions of Ellis and Liberty Islands, and the people that populated and cared for them, were done with liveliness and affection. It will be interesting to see how the Molly/Anna/Frederick triangle will develop. A thoroughly exiting "chase" scene at the end was one of the best written of the genre.
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By A Customer on January 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book was a more difficult read than the other Anna Pigeon novels in that it was harder to visualize the crumbling ruins of Ellis Island than the sites of the other novels in this series. Although I have never been to any of the sites of the Anna Pigeon novels, the others seemed much easier to imagine (especially Blind Descent and Superior Death). The descriptions of the NY city environs made me, as well as Anna, long to get back to a good read about a less populated park. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the continuing development of the characters of Anna, Molly, and Frederick. Some of the other characters, Dr. Madison in particular, seemed pointlessly, as Frederick would put it, "ishy". I also hope that in future adventures Anna will not get so beaten up...she is obviously bright; perhaps she could use her brains to avoid some of the physical violence in this book and the others.
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Format: Hardcover
(from the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel")Nevada Barr takes her heroine Anna Pigeon out of her natural element (the forests, rivers, and deserts of our National parks) and sets her smack dab in the middle of the ultimate asphalt jungle: New York City. Oddly, this change of venue has produced some of Barr's best writing to date. In fact, "Liberty Falling" is her best novel to date. And when considering her small but powerful oeuvre ("Blind Descent," "Firestorm," "Track of the Cat" and three other top-notch efforts), that says a lot. After learning that her sister, Molly, has succumbed to pneumonia, Anna Pigeon travels to New York to hold vigil. When Frederick Stanton (a former boyfriend and FBI agent who has fallen in love with Molly) shows up, she begins feeling like an unneeded crutch. Bunking down in the ranger's quarters on Ellis Island, Anna shuttles back and forth among the three New York islands (Ellis, Liberty and Manhattan), trying to keep busy as she settles in for what could be a long wait. On a visit to Liberty island, Anna comes on the scene just after a young child is apparently pushed off of the statue. A new found friend, Park Policeman James "Hatch" Hatchett, falls under suspicion. Relying on instincts, Anna senses something amiss. And what forensic evidence is available suggests the child may have jumped. Unable to help herself, Anna begins snooping about. Among the caretakers, policemen, rangers and actors (who act out the roles of immigrants on Ellis Island), Anna finds more than enough suspects for murder. What's more, stories about ghosts haunting the ruins on Ellis Island have been bandied about.Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Anna Pigeon is staying with a ranger friend on Liberty Island while she visits her sick sister Molly who's in the hospital with a life-threatening kidney ailment. While living in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, Anna gets involved in the death of a supposed suicide. A teen-age girl leaps to her death from the top of Liberty's pedestal. If that's not enough, a few days later the security guard who tried to stop the girl from jumping dies the same way in almost the same spot. Before she knows it, Anna is caught up in a mystery involving a sleazy doctor and Castro look-alike.
Like all Anna Pigeon novels, this moves slowly. It does take quite a while for the bones of the mystery to appear but Anna Pigeon is such a likeable heroine and Barr such a good writer that the book never seems to drag. At times, Barr's stream-of-conciousness style of writing can be hard to follow but overall the novel is a fun read.
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By A Customer on January 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
National Park Service Ranger Anna Pigeon would never feel lonely even if she were the only person in Yosemite national Park. On the other hand, place her in a teeming metropolis like Manhattan and she feels both claustrophobic and lonely. However, when her sister is in a Big Apple intensive care unit, fighting for her life, Anna visits her, residing at a friend's home on Liberty Island.

Anna explores the ruins of Ellis Island, the locale where millions of immigrants entered this country. However, strange happenings occur on both isles. A teen tumbles from the statue with a witness screaming that a security person pushed the victim. In turn, the accused seemingly commits suicide. Anna has doubts and begins to snoop. For her troubles, someone breaks the crumbling stairwell from under her feet, an incident that could have led to Anna's death. At a subway station, an unknown assailant tries to push her in front of an oncoming train. The attacks on her person continue, but nothing deters Anna from trying to ferret out the truth.

Looking at New York City, and Liberty and Ellis Islands from the perspective of a person who enjoys the vast outdoors is an interesting treat. LIBERTY FALLING succeeds because of the attitude of Anna, who is not just tourist, towards the large metropolis. Nevada Barr has the uncanny ability of hiding her clues in plain sight, leaving the reader to struggle with determining who is the perpetrator. The historical research on the two smaller islands adds depth that leaves the audience feeling like they made a recent visit to the Gateways National Park that includes Liberty and Ellis Island. Any Anna Pigeon novel is a treat, but LIBERTY FALLING is a special delight in a top series.

Harriet Klausner
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