The Penguin Group, 2008. ISBN 978-0-3991-5458-4.
Reviewed by Rhonda Esakov
Posted on 04/24/2008
Nevada Barr is back with her signature blend of mystery and nature writing. In this fourteenth book of the Anna Pigeon mystery series, Winter Study takes the park ranger back to Isle Royal in Lake Superior during the coldest part of winter. Here Anna will learn about studying and managing wolves, as they are fast becoming part of her life in her permanent post at Rocky Mountain National Park. What was to be a simple (but cold) few weeks' walk in the park quickly becomes a deadly trap where one starting-to-notice-her-age ranger, two scientists, some agents from Homeland Security, and the National Park's support personnel have no way to get support or to leave the island. In the frozen wilderness, these seven people only have each other to depend on—or be afraid of.
After only a day, the thoughts running through Anna's mind are: "A crazy-making current was running through the island. That a wog had manifested, a windigo died at their feet and a wolf been slaughtered didn't completely account for it. The unreasoning fear of children raised on fairy tales where wolves had an overweaning penchant for evil trickled under saner thoughts....a dozen other wolf researchers had spent decades debunking this myth, but there was no rooting out the ogres of childhood. Fear was the yeast stirred into the mix of human dysfunctions, a catalyst that could spin them out of control. Fear was the difference between neurosis and insanity."
Now, one scientist is dead, and Ranger Pigeon has her closest brush with death so far. She has to investigate before someone else dies. Sometimes only the thought of her new husband waiting back home gives her enough strength to carry on with the investigation.
Barr's descriptive power and love of nature brings the natural world alive with her wide-ranging experience in national parks and her curiosity about the challenges faced by wildlife biologists. All this mixed together with the complexity of her oh-so-human characters makes for a chilling mystery that will keep you absorbed to the end.
Nevada Barr is the award-winning author of thirteen prior Anna Pigeon mysteries. With a BA in speech and drama, she started as an actress, became a park ranger, is a New York Times bestselling author, and has been a full time artist for nearly fifteen years. She currently lives in New Orleans with her husband and a household full of pets. Visit her website.
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