Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Rope by Nevada Barr (Anna Pigeon Prequel)

*Rating* 3.0
*Genre* Mystery/Suspense

“Us poor mortals live under the 'shit happens' rule of nature. Life doesn't make sense. Unearned guilt is hubris, a claim to powers you don't have. I understand the temptation. It's less scary than admitting shit happens, because if shit does just happen, it can happen again and tomorrow your sister or your dog gets run over by a cab." Jenny Gorman in a scene where Anna and her are nearly killed by the villain who truly has it in for Anna.

The Rope, by Nevada Barr, takes Anna Pigeon back to the year 1995 in what’s being called the Anna Pigeon Prequel. (In series order this would be right before Track of the Cat which released almost 20 years ago.)

This is Anna’s first adventure with the National Park Service and it is the link to how Anna ended up being a law enforcement ranger with the NPS. The mystery of the actual villain isn’t all that shrouded in mystery since the person ends up being in their fair share of scenes and is often found as jealous or disturbed.

The story itself is set in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Arizona and Utah as well as Lake Powell. Of all the things I love about Nevada Barr’s books, it’s her ability to put the reader into the actual scenery where the story takes place. Being a former NPS worker has a lot to do with that fact. One day, I would love to visit the parks that Barr has written her stories in. They truly do fascinate me to no end.


Anna is a recent widower and is feeling as though she was to blame for her husband Zach’ death by taxi cab. Taking the first bus out of NYC, and away from her older sister Molly, she takes a job as a seasonal interpretive worker for the NPS where she works closely with Jenny Gorman scooping up human feces and ensuring the area remains clean for others to use.

Anna wakes up in a solution hole and it appears she has been attacked, the word WHORE has been cut into her thigh, and she is naked and without any sort of memories as to how she ended up there in the first place. Upon arriving back in her barracks that she shares with Jenny, nearly all her belongings have been packed up except for items no woman can truly be without.

This should have been a clear indication that something was truly wrong and that Annya didn't just walk away!

Why would anyone push Anna in the solution hole? Who packed up all her things and tried to mail them back to her sister Molly in NYC? Who among the NPS workers has it in for Anna and for what idiotic reason does Anna’s very existence exudes the feeling of hostility and jealously from others?

Anna Pigeon often finds herself in more pickles than any one person is allowed to have in one lifetime. I’m actually glad to see this version of Anna Pigeon, rather than the depressed and PTSD suffering Anna we’ve been reading about over the last five or six books.

I really truly enjoyed Jenny’s character in this story. She was funny, had the best lines, and wasn’t closeted about who she really is and what she wants from her relationship with Anna. Some will complain about the close relationship between the characters, but, in essence they are just saying that two women can’t be close like that without being lovers and having sex all.

The only real complaint I had was the changing of POVs from Anna, to Jenny, to Regis who seemingly comes out of nowhere and stops the villain in their tracks.

As one who has read every single book in this series now, I can only keep my fingers crossed that we see this version of Anna Pigeon again soon. 

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