34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: High Country (An Anna Pigeon Novel) (Mass Market Paperback)
Nevada Barr is at her best in Western settings, where her characters have room to roam. In this book, she returns to the west, but sets her story in a Novemberish Yosemite, hemmed in by clouds, trapped fog-like, barely above the treetops. A lot of reviewers of the hardback complained about that, but they've obviously never lived in a climate that can produce this kind of weather for two weeks at a crack. I do. It can chill you, right to the soul.
Which is what this book is all about. The set-up is simple enough: Anna Pigeon, upwardly mobile park ranger, is working undercover in a swank hotel as a waitress, hoping to suss out the fate of four hikers who went missing and are presumably dead. But what this book is really about is evil: the human evil that, like endless November fog, can invade even sacred places like Yosemite; and the spiritual evil to which some people have surrendered more than others, but which is beneath the skin of us all. Opposing this, Barr sets a collection of women of varying degrees of spiritual and emotional innocence (and in some cases, intellectual innocence) and throughout, she uses undercover detective work as a metaphor for the loss and retaining of one's identity in the face of pressures that would make you someone you don't want to be.
Basically, this is Barr's most ambitious work, and for about 350 pages it works stunningly. In the final 50 pages it comes partially unglued-one of the critical innocence-related plot threads gets dropped, and the behavior of some of the villains seems to have been altogether too convoluted, given their motives. For those reasons, I can't give the book a perfect score.
Bottom line: This is a very good book. But beware, it's darker than the normal Anna Pigeon fare, and the normally sunny landscapes of Barr's natural world share in the darkness.