Blood Lure (Anna Pigeon Series #9)

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Overview

"In Blood Lure, Anna Pigeon returns to the West, where she is sent on a training assignment to study grizzly bears in Waterton/Glacier National Peace Park, straddling the border between Montana and Canada. But back in her beloved mountains, where the air is pure and cool, Anna fails to experience the spiritual renewal she expected. Instead, nature seems to have become twisted, carrying a malevolence almost human in its focus." "Along with a bear researcher, Joan Rand, and a volatile and unpredictable teenage boy, Anna hikes the back country,
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Blood Lure (Anna Pigeon Series #9)

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Overview

"In Blood Lure, Anna Pigeon returns to the West, where she is sent on a training assignment to study grizzly bears in Waterton/Glacier National Peace Park, straddling the border between Montana and Canada. But back in her beloved mountains, where the air is pure and cool, Anna fails to experience the spiritual renewal she expected. Instead, nature seems to have become twisted, carrying a malevolence almost human in its focus." "Along with a bear researcher, Joan Rand, and a volatile and unpredictable teenage boy, Anna hikes the back country, seeking signs of the bears. On their second night out, the tables are turned: one of the bears comes looking for them. Daybreak finds the boy missing and a camper dead, her neck snapped, the flesh of her face cut away. Feeling betrayed by nature and humanity, Anna must find the beast stalking the trails - and enter deep into a gripping wilderness life-or-death mystery."--BOOK JACKET.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Nevada Barr's Blood Lure once again features Anna Pigeon, the likeable, slightly misanthropic heroine of nine increasingly popular mysteries, all set against the lovingly evoked backdrop of America's National Parks. This time out, Anna -- a law enforcement officer and peripatetic Ranger -- finds herself detached from her regular duties in Mississippi's Natchez Trace Park and assigned to a research project in Northern Montana. The project, which involves collecting DNA samples from the indigenous bear population of Glacier National Park, seems, at first, like an idyllic interlude. But the idyll comes to an abrupt end when murder, mayhem, and human malfeasance rear their ugly heads.

The novel begins on a peaceful note as Anna, accompanied by veteran bear researcher Joan Rand and teenage Earthwatch volunteer Rory Van Slyke, tracks her quarry through the rugged beauty of the Montana landscape. In the middle of their second night out, a large, apparently savage grizzly bear attacks the researchers' campsite. When the dust settles, Joan and Anna find themselves shaken but unscathed. Rory, however, has disappeared, having fled into the surrounding forest in a blind, headlong panic. When dawn comes, Park Service personnel conduct a full-scale search, in the course of which they locate not just Rory but the corpse of a mutilated woman. The woman's neck has been broken, and large sections of her face have been carefully carved away.

The dead woman is eventually identified as Carolyn Van Slyke, Rory's abusive -- and highly promiscuous -- stepmother. Rory, of course, becomes an immediate suspect, as does his father, the pathetic, browbeaten Lester Van Slyke. Two other candidates rapidly materialize: a teenage hiker who calls himself Geoffrey Micholson, and William McCaskil, a professional con man with a host of aliases and an extensive criminal record. Faced with a crime that offers too many suspects and too little concrete evidence, Anna abandons her DNA research project and throws herself into a protracted -- and dangerous -- homicide investigation.

The narrative evolves into a devious, ingeniously plotted mystery whose numerous clues are casually and cleverly scattered throughout the text. Blood Lure, however, is a great deal more than just a well-constructed thriller. It is also a powerful evocation of the natural world, and its recreation of the complex ecology of Glacier National Park is precise, detailed, and absolutely convincing. Equally convincing is Barr's ongoing portrait of Anna Pigeon, a smart, self-sufficient woman who is much more at home in the world of wild animals than in the predatory society of men. She is a credible, sympathetic heroine with heart, brains, and hidden depths. It's a pleasure encountering her once again.

--Bill Sheehan

Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub, At the Foot of the Story Tree, has been published by Subterranean Press (www.subterraneanpress.com).

Daneet Steffens
...Barr's red herrings and sly twists culminate in one huge payoff. Grade A-
Laurie Davie
Like her heroine, Barr is a ranger who’s worked in national parks all over the country. Her gorgeous descriptions of the natural world enhance this taut, suspenseful tale, and the unexpected ending will surprise and enchant you.
Romantic Times
From The Critics
All is not well in grizzly country...Barr's red herrings and sly twists culminate in one huge payoff.
Entertainment Weekly
All is not well in grizzly country...Barr's red herrings and sly twists culminate in one huge payoff.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The latest entry in this excellent series featuring National Park Service ranger Anna Pigeon is one of Barr's best. Anna has been assigned to work temporarily in Montana's Glacier National Park, where she seems more at home than in her recent forays to East Coast parks, and learns how to do DNA studies on wildlife by working with a biologist, Joan, on a study of grizzly bears. Anna, Joan and a young, inexperienced volunteer, Rory, are sent out into the park's wilderness areas to set lures for the grizzlies. They use a powerful and nasty-smelling concoction, mixed with cow's blood, that the grizzlies find irresistible. Once the bears rub up against the trees or barbed wire that have been coated with the lure, samples of their DNA can be collected from the hair and skin left behind. In their remote campsite one night, Anna and Joan amazingly survive a grizzly bear attack on their tents unscathed, only to find that Rory has gone missing. As park rangers and rescue teams hike the mountainous park looking for the missing teenager, they find instead the dead body of a woman whose face has been horribly mutilated. Rory is an obvious suspect, as is the bear who attacked the camp. Barr focuses on the wilderness park and its endangered population of grizzlies rather than on Anna's personal life and problems, and this makes for a tightly plotted, satisfying read. The author's masterful descriptions of the natural world immeasurably enhance an exciting, suspenseful story that is sure to flirt with bestseller lists. Mystery Guild main selection and Literary Guild alternate selection. (Feb. 5) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
Blood Lure is mainly for those already familiar with this series of mysteries, each one taking place in a different national park, featuring Anna Pigeon, a park law enforcement officer. This one features Glacier National Park and a DNA study of grizzly bears Anna participates in—hence the title. While camping in the wilderness, studying bears, Anna gets involved in strange events, each with some connection to bears. A young man from Earthwatch is helping in the study, with his father and stepmother camping at another location in the park. The stepmother is found murdered and Anna is brought into the criminal investigation. From then on, Barr can do what she does best: have Anna (and readers vicariously) experience the wilderness in all of its splendor and with all of its dangers. There are some truly frightening sequences—enough to scare even Outward Bound types. Frankly, it's fun to thrill to the chase scenes in the wilds of a national park—something different from car chases on city streets and other staples of the genre. Category: Paperback Fiction. KLIATT Codes: JSA—Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Berkley, 333p. map., $6.99. Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; KLIATT SOURCE: KLIATT, March 2002 (Vol. 36, No. 2)
Library Journal
Having guided readers on behind-the-scenes tours of New York City's Ellis and Liberty Islands (Liberty Falling) and Mississippi's Natchez Trace Parkway (Deep South), Barr returns to the West in her ninth mystery. On a training assignment to study grizzly bears in the Waterton-Glacier National Peace Park, near the Montana-Canada border, park ranger Anna Pigeon hikes into the mountains with researcher Joan Rand and an Earthwatch volunteer, Rory Van Slyke. But Anna's joy at returning to the wilderness quickly turns to terror when their camp is ravaged in the middle of the night by a grizzly. Rory disappears, and in the morning the faceless corpse of a female camper is discovered. Was the woman the victim of the same bear, or was there a more sinister human element involved? While Barr's love of nature and the outdoors shines through, her plot is rather formulaic and dull, lacking the intensity and excitement of her better novels (Blind Descent, A Superior Death). Still, her fans will want to read. [Mystery Guild main selection and Literary Guild alternate selection; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/00.]--Wilda Williams, "Library Journal" Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Dispatched from her Mississippi home park (Deep South, 2000) to Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park to participate in a bear census, rolling-stone ranger Anna Pigeon happily strains pots of stinky lure with her bare hands and clambers over rough territory to place the lure in the hope of attracting bears to help the Park Service establish population trends and travel patterns. It's an idyllic time, in fact, until the little camp she's sharing with Joan Rand, her trainer, and Earthwatch volunteer Rory Van Slyke is attacked in the middle of the night by a monstrous grizzly, and Anna, emerging shaken from the assault, finds Rory missing. By the time Rory turns up again, there's even worse news: His stepmother, predatory Seattle divorce lawyer Carolyn Van Slyke, has been killed—at first by a bear, it seems, until Chief Ranger Harry Ruick notices the horrific facial wounds that have been made by an edged weapon. Was Carolyn killed by the stepson who conveniently vanished just around the time of her death, or by Rory's inoffensive father Lester Van Slyke? Why was the killer trying to frame one of the park's bears for the killing, and what dangers remain for Anna when she ventures again onto Glacier's now darkly spectacular mountain trails? Despite a fitful alternation between the exciting outdoor set pieces Barr ought to patent and the anticlimactic returns to Anna's indoor base—together with a solution that's logical enough but a little hard to swallow—fans of this distinguished series won't be disappointed. Literary Guild alternate selection; Mystery Guild main selection; author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425183755
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/5/2002
  • Series: Anna Pigeon Series , #9
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 236,441
  • Product dimensions: 6.72 (w) x 10.92 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Nevada  Barr
Nevada Barr is the award-winning author of thirteen previous Anna Pigeon mysteries, including the New York Times bestsellers Hard Truth and High Country. She lives in New Orleans.

Biography

Nevada Barr 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 18 years she worked on stage, in commercials and 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.
Biography from author website.

Good To Know

In our interview with Barr, she disclosed three interesting facts about herself:

"I will forget your face and name, but never your stories."

"I love to sing but can clear a concert hall at the drop of a note."

"I lie, but never about the important stuff -- and I get to decide what is the important stuff."

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    1. Hometown:
      Clinton, Mississippi
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 1, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Yerington, Nevada
    1. Education:
      B.A., Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, 1974; M.A., University of California at Irvine, 1977
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1With the exception of a nine-week-old Australian shepherd puppy, sniffing and whining as if he'd discovered a treasure chest and sought a way inside, everyone was politely pretending Anna didn't stink. Under the tutelage of Joan Rand, the biologist overseeing Glacier's groundbreaking bear DNA project, Anna had spent the morning in an activity so vile even garbage men had given her wide berth, holding their noses in awe. Near Glacier National Park's sewage processing plant, behind an eight-foot chain-link fence sporting two electrified wires, and further protected in an aluminum shed the size of an old two-holer outhouse wrapped in six more strands of electrical fencing, lay the delights the excited black and white pup whiffed: two fifty-gallon drums filled with equal parts cows' blood and fish flotsam, heated and left to steep for two and a half months in what was referred to as the "brew shed." Joan, apparently born without a gag reflex, had cheerfully taught Anna how to strain fish bits out with one hand while ladling red-black liquid into one-liter plastic bottles with the other. "Fingers work best," Rand had said. "Pure research; the glamour never stops." With that, she had flashed Anna small, crooked, very white teeth in a grin that, in other circumstances, might have been contagious. Standing now in the offices of the science lab, the puppy beginning to lick her boot laces, Anna was glad she'd not succumbed to the temptation to smile back. Had she done so, her teeth would probably be permeated with a godawful stench that could only be described as eau decarrion, the quintessential odor of Death on a bender, the Devil's vomit. "It wears off." A kindly woman with shoulder-length brown hair looked up from a computer console as if Anna's thoughts had been broadcast along with her smell. "It just takes awhile. Have you worked with the skunk lures yet?" "That's for dessert," Anna replied grimly, and the woman laughed. "That's the lure of choice. Joan says they roll and play in it like overgrown dogs. That lure is so stinky you've got to pack it in glass jars. Goes right through plastic." Anna thought about the blood lure, the skunk. Both had been painstakingly researched, other scents tried and discarded, till those most irresistible to grizzly bears had been found. And she was going to be carrying these scents on her back into the heart of bear country in Montana's side of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, nothing between her and the largest omnivores in the lower forty-eight but a can of pepper spray. The puppy woofed and put portentously large paws on her shins, his black-fringed tail describing short, fat arcs. "You want to roll in me, don't you?" Anna asked. He barked again and she quashed an urge to pick him up, defile his soft new fur with her tainted hands. Turning away from the importuning brown eyes, she studied the color photocopies of Ursus horribilis thumbtacked to a long bulletin board situated over a conference table: the muscular hump between the shoulders developed, it was thought, to aid in the main function of the four-inch claws—digging. Fur was brown, tipped or grizzled with silver, earning the bear its name. Ears were rounded, plump, teddy-bear ears; teeth less sanguine, the canines an inch or so in length, well suited to their feeding habits. Grizzly bears ate carrion, plants, ground squirrels, insects and, sometimes, people. Anna thought about that. Thought about the olfactory enticements she would carry, handle, sleep beside at night. Stepping closer, she studied the pictures of massive heads, long jaws, paws that could topple a strong man, claws that could disembowel with ease, and she felt no fear. Members of the bear team, who monitored bear activities in the park and settled bear/visitor disputes, and the Glacier rangers routinely lamented the fact that the American people were such idiots they thought of these wildest of animals as big cuddly pets. One man had been stopped in the act of smearing ice cream on his five-year-old son's cheek in hopes of photographing a bear licking it off. Anna was too well versed in the critter sciences to believe the animals harmless. She fell into a second and equally dangerous subspecies of idiot: those who felt a spiritual connection with the wild beasts, be they winged, furred or toothed. A sense that they would recognize in her a kindred spirit and do her no harm nullified a necessary and healthful terror of being torn apart and devoured. This delusion didn't extend to the lions of Africa. One couldn't expect them not to eat an overseas tourist; everybody enjoys an exotic dish now and again. But American lions, American bears... She laughed aloud at herself. Fortunately she wasn't fool enough to put interspecies camaraderie to the test and never would she admit any of this to anyone. Least of all Joan Rand, her keeper, trainer and companion for the nineteen days that she was cross-training on the Greater Glacier Bear DNA Project, gleaning knowledge that could be put to use to better manage wildlife in her home park, the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi. "Ah, my stinky little friend, your vacation package is ready," Joan said as she emerged from an inner sanctum. Rand was American by birth, French-Canadian by proximity, and she sounded precisely like Pepe Le Pew, the cartoon Parisian skunk, when she chose to. Anna laughed. Joan would remember Pepe. She was near Anna in years, somewhere in that fertile valley of middle age between forty-five and fifty-five. Anna had liked Joan right off. Rand was on the short side—five-foot-two—and stocky, with the narrow shoulders of a person who couldn't carry much weight and the solid butt and thighs of somebody who could hike a Marine drill sergeant into the ground. Anna liked the quickness of her mind and the gravelly quality of her voice. She liked her humor. But in the two days they'd lived and worked together, she'd not felt an ease of companionship. It seemed she was always looking for something to say. Mostly silences were filled with work. Those that weren't had yet to become comfortable, but Anna had hopes. The bear researcher dropped the skunk accent, adjusted her oversized glasses and said, "Take a seat. This is Rory Van Slyke. He's our Earthwatch sherpa, general dogsbody and has promised, should a bear attack, to offer up his firm young flesh so that you and I might live to continue our important work." Rory, the individual to whom Joan referred, smiled shyly. In her years with the National Park Service Anna had only had occasion to cross paths with the Earthwatch organization once before. Some years back, when she was a boat patrol ranger on Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior, Earthwatch—an independent environmental organization funded by donations and staffed by volunteers—had been working on a moose study with the National Park Service. They had the unenviable task of hiking cross-country through the ruggedest terrain of a rugged park seeking out dead and rotting moose, counting the ticks on the carcasses, then packing out the really choice parts for further study. They did this not merely voluntarily, they paid for the privilege, suggesting that the altruism gene was not a myth. All of the Earthwatchers she'd met, including Rory Van Slyke, were young. Probably because the work they did would kill a grown-up. "How you do?" Anna said mechanically. "Well, thank you. And yourself?" A long time had passed since anybody had bothered to finish the old-fashioned greeting formula. Evidently Rory had been raised right—or strictly. "Fine," she managed. The boy—young man—had a light, high voice that sounded as if it had yet to change, though he was clearly years past puberty. He didn't look substantial enough to be much of a sherpa, but as bear bait, he'd do just fine: slight build, tender-looking skin, coarse sandy hair and dark blue eyes fringed with lashes so pale as to be virtually invisible. "Here's the plan." Joan spread a topographical map on the table in front of Anna, then leaned over her shoulder to point. She, too, stank to high heaven. It was good to be a member of a group. "We've gridded the park into cells eight kilometers on a side," Joan said as she dropped a transparent plastic overlay on the topographical map, aligning it with coordinates she carried in her head. "Each cell is numbered. In every square—every cell—we've put a hair trap. This is not to trap the bear in toto but merely designed to ensure visiting bears leave behind samples of their hair for the study. Traps are located, near as we can make them, on the natural travel routes of the bears: mountain passes, the confluence of avalanche chutes, that sort of thing. So we're talking some serious off-trail hiking here, bushwhacking at its whackingest. These asterisks," she poked a blunt brown forefinger at marks made by felt marker on the overlay, "are where the last round of traps are located. They've been in place two weeks. The three of us will take five of the cells: numbers three-thirty-one, twenty-three, fifty-two, fifty-three and sixty-four. Here, on the central and west side of Flattop Mountain. What we'll be doing is going into the old traps, collecting the hair, dismantling the traps and setting them up in the new locations, here." She put another plastic overlay on top of the first, and a second set of asterisks appeared. "Or as close to these respective ‘heres' as we can get. Mapping locations out on paper in the cozy confines of the office has very little relationship to where you can actually put them when you get out into the rocky, cliffy, shrubby old backcountry. "Once the trap wire is strung, we pour the elixir of the gods—that's this blood-and-fish-guts perfume you are pretending not to notice on us, Rory—into our new trap and leave for another couple of weeks. While wandering around up there we'll also cover the Flattop Mountain Trail from below Fifty Mountain Camp to the middle of the Waterton Valley and the West Flattop Mountain Trail from the continental divide to Dixon Glacier. Bears are like us: they like to take the easy way when they can. So we've located and marked a number of trees along the trail system that they are particularly fond of scratching their backs on. We'll collect hair samples from these, as well as any samples of scat we happen across." The lecture was for Rory. Anna had heard it before when Joan and her boss, Kate, explained the daunting task of data gathering for the DNA project, the inspiration of Kate Kendall, a researcher working jointly with the USGS—the United States Geographical Survey—and the NPS. From the hair and scat collected, the DNA of individual bears would be extracted. Modern techniques used by the lab at the University of Idaho would establish gender, species and individual identification of the animals sampled. With this information, it was hoped an accurate census of the bears could be established, as well as population trends, travel routes and patterns. This trapping system had been designed to give every single bear at Glacier an opportunity to be counted. "We'll be out five days," Joan finished. "Leaving tomorrow at the crack of dawn." No one spoke for a moment, the three of them gazing at the map as if at any moment it would begin to divulge its secrets. "Hey," Joan said, breaking the silence. "Maybe we'll see your folks, Rory." The young man whuffed, a small expulsion of air through the nostrils that spoke volumes, none of them good, about how he viewed the proximity of his parents. Anna looked at him from the corner of her eye. Down was gone from his cheek, recently replaced by a beard so fair it glistened rather than shadowed at the end of the day. He was seventeen or eighteen at a guess. Very possibly on his first great away-from-home adventure. And Mom and Dad found a way to horn in. Just to see if any of her surmises were in the ballpark, Anna said, "How so your folks?" and prepared to listen with an expression that would pass for innocent with the unwary. "Mom and Dad are camping at Fifty Mountain Camp for a week. Mom got this sudden urge to get back to nature." "Quite a coincidence," Anna needled, to see what kind of response she could scare up. No sense smelling stinky if one couldn't be a stinker. "Mom's kind of...," Rory's voice trailed off. Anna didn't detect any malice, just annoyance. "Kind of into the family thing. Sort of ‘happy campers all together.' She knows I won't see a lot of her, if at all. She can always amuse herself. And of course Les had to come if she came." Now there was malice. A pretty hefty dose of it for a lad so green in years. "Les?" Anna prodded because it was in her nature to do so. "My dad. Carolyn's my stepmother." Had Anna for some unfathomable reason chosen to go forth and populate the earth with offspring of her own, it would have cut her to the heart to hear herself mentioned in the tones Rory used when speaking of his dad. The kinder notes, poured out upon the stepparent, would have been just so much salt in the wound. "I doubt we'll even see them from a distance," Joan said. "This itsy-bitsy chunk of map I've been pointing at represents a whole lot of territory when you're covering it on foot." There was a slamming-the-iron-door quality to her dismissal of the domestic issue that made Anna suspect her of being a mother in her other life. If she had another life. In the forty-eight hours Anna had known her, Rand had worked like a woman buying off a blackmailer. It wasn't that she lacked humor or zest, but that she pushed herself as if her sense of security was held hostage and only hard work could buy it back. A classic workaholic. Anna's sister, Molly, had been one until she'd nearly died; then, at the ripe age of fifty-five, fallen in love for maybe the first time. Molly was a psychiatrist. She could tell Joan that no amount of work would suffice. But if Joan was a true workaholic, she wouldn't have time to listen. Personally, Anna loved workaholics. Especially when they worked for her. In a sense those laboring to save one square inch of wilderness, rescue one caddis fly larva from pollutants, were in the deepest sense public servants. And maybe, if the gods took pity and the public woke up, these rescuers would save the world, one species, one coral reef, one watershed at a time. Anna'd organized a backpack so often it took her no more time than a veteran airline pilot packing for a four-day trip. The five liters of blood and guts were secured in a hard plastic Pelican case. Rory would carry that. Anna and Joan split the rest of the equipment between them: fencing staples and hammers, vials of ethanol for scat samples, envelopes for hair, a trap log to record the salient facts of the sites, like where, precisely, in the two million acres of Glacier each four-hundred-square-foot trap was located so the next round of researchers could find it. The skunk lures, five in all, weighed next to nothing. Wool, permeated with the scent purchased from a hunting catalogue, was stuffed in film canisters and stowed in a glass jar. That went in Anna's pack. In under two hours everything was arranged to Joan's satisfaction. The women spent the remainder of the evening at a scarred oak table in Joan's dining area going over BIMS—bear incident management systems reports. Joan lived in park housing and Anna felt peculiarly at home. There was a sameness to the quarters that engendered a bizarre dreamlike déjà vu. It wasn't merely the prevalence of the Mission '66 ranch-style floor plans: three bedrooms, L-shaped living area and long narrow kitchen circa 1966, the last time the NPS had gotten major funding for employee housing. It was the décor. Rangers, researchers and naturalists, from seasonal to superintendent, could be counted on to have park posters on the walls, a kachina or two on the shelves, Navajo rugs over the industrial-strength carpeting and an assortment of mismatched unbreakable plastic dishes in the kitchen. The predictability of the surroundings had dulled Anna's natural curiosity. Remembering now her suspicion as to her hostess's family leanings, she took off the drugstore half-glasses she'd finally admitted to needing for close work and looked around the compact living area. On top of the television, between a Kokopelli doll standing on an ojo de Dios and the skull of some large canid, were framed school portraits of two boys, either fraternal twins or very close in age. Both were stunningly beautiful, a pedophile's dream-come-true. Thinking of the children in those terms brought Anna up short. Dark thoughts, dire predictions, a view of the world as a dangerous and dirty place was an occupational hazard of those in law enforcement—even park rangers, whose days were spent in beautiful places populated by largely benevolent if occasionally misguided vacationers. Her promotion to district ranger on the Natchez Trace Parkway was taking its toll. The Trace was a road, hence Anna was a cop. Asphalt could be relied on to be a conduit for crime. The boys in the picture frames: not potential victims but future promise made flesh. Attitude screwed around the right way, Anna asked, "Are those your sons?" "Luke and John," Joan said. Good apostolic names. Anna smiled. "What happened to Matthew and Mark?" "Stillborn." Anna's brain skidded to a halt; a feeble jest had struck the jugular. "Shit," she said sincerely. "Yup." Silence settled around them, oddly comfortable this time, more so given this silence's root. "John graduates high school this year. Luke's a junior. I got pregnant while nursing. Another old wives' tale bites the dust. They live with their dad in Denver." There was no need for elaboration. The park service, though sublime in many respects, was hell on marriages. Anna was all too familiar with the forlorn photographs of shattered families. Accompanied by an alarming creaking noise that she hoped was the ladder-backed chair and not Joan's sacroiliac, the researcher rose. She crossed to the television, returned with the pictures and set them down amid the BIMS reports and scat sample tubes. "They're good-looking boys," Anna said, to make up for her evil pedophilic thoughts. "Their dad was a virtual Adonis. Still is. Still knows it. Still drives the little girls wild." Another chapter in the same old story. "Ah," Anna said. "If I ever marry again, it'll be to a rich old hunchback with bad teeth." Picking up a frame, Anna studied the photo simply because she thought Joan had brought the pictures that they might be pored over and admired. "John?" "Luke. Though he's younger, he's the bigger boy." Around the eyes—brown and, because of a slight down-turn at the outer corners, sad-looking—Luke resembled his mother. In all else he had followed along the Adonis lines. "Looks a little like Rory Van Slyke," Anna said. "Looks" wasn't quite the right word. The two boys did have a surface resemblance, but it was the eyes that made them so alike, a depth of vision that boys shouldn't have. As if, during what should have been carefree childhood years, they had seen enough of life to become weary. "I noticed that," Joan said. Wistfulness permeated the words. Joan missed her sons, maybe picked the Van Slyke boy from the Earthwatch litter because he reminded her of Luke. Evidently Joan heard her own vulnerability and was shamed by it. At any rate, the moment of intimacy was over. "BIMS," she said overbrightly. "Never a dull moment. Let me read you one." The forms had been made up in an attempt to keep a record of every bear sighting in the park. They were filled out by visitors and park personnel alike to gather information on the activities and whereabouts of the grizzlies and their less alarming cousins, the black bears. Each form had places for writing the location of sighting, date, time, observer, color of bear, observer's activity and, the most entertaining if not always the most illuminating, the comments section where the activities of the bear were described. Joan shuffled through her pile of BIMS and, Anna noted, in the process managed to turn the photos of her sons so they faced away. "Here it is. Listen to this. ‘Big bear. Major, mondo, hippo of a bear. Thousand to twelve hundred pounds.'" "Too big?" "By half. In Glacier, grizzlies don't reach the size they do in Alaska, where they have access to all that salmon protein. Here an average male weighs in at three-fifty or four hundred pounds, the females a little less. We get a lot of exaggerated reports. I can't say as I blame folks. When you see a bear and you're all alone in the big bad woods, they do have a tendency to double in size." Joan's jocularity was forced. Equilibrium was not yet reestablished. The ghosts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John still hovered over the scat bottles. Anna wondered whether the situation with the boys was intense or if it was just Joan. "I got a good one," she offered in the spirit of denial. She paged back till she located a form filled out in lavender ballpoint. "August fifth. No location. No time. No observer name. Species: grizzly. Age: twenty-six. Color: blond—don't know if this means the bear was twenty-six and blond, or the observer was." "Blond for our bears is rare." "That's not the rare part. This is." Anna read aloud from the "Comments" box. "‘Bear activity: juggling what looked like a hedgehog. Observer activity: standing amazed.'" Joan laughed and the air was clear again. Tales of visitor silliness could always be counted on to bring back a sense of normalcy to park life. "Reports like that reassure me that Timothy Leary's alive and well and doing drugs with Elvis," the researcher said. After ten o'clock, in Joan's spare room furnished, as was every spare room in every park service house Anna had ever slept in, with peculiar oddments of furniture heavily representing the 1950s and Wal-Mart, and a closet full of backpacks, coats and sleeping bags good to ten below zero, Anna lay awake. Her book, an old well-read copy of The Wind Chill Factor, was open on her chest. Seeing the shapes of animals in the water stains on the ceiling as she used to do as a child, she contemplated the upcoming backcountry trip. Months had passed since she'd done anything more strenuous than sit on her posterior in an air-conditioned patrol car. The most weight she'd lifted with any regularity was a citation book and government-issue pen. In desperation, she'd joined an aerobics class at the Baptist Healthplex in Clinton, Mississippi, but she'd only gone twice. One of the requirements for inclusion in this cross-training venture had been the ability to carry a fifty-pound pack. Anna hadn't lied. She could carry fifty pounds. Just how far remained to be seen. She hoped she wouldn't slow everybody down. She hoped Joan wouldn't have Rory Van Slyke unwittingly bearing, along with the blood of sacrificial cows, the burden of stillborn apostles because of an uncanny likeness to long-absent sons. She hoped she'd see some grizzly bear cubs. And that the cubs' momma wouldn't see her. —Reprinted from Blood Lure by Nevada Barr by permission of Putnam Books, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2001 Nevada Barr. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2001

    Trip through Natioal Parks make unique backgrounds

    Have read all of Barr's books and not a one less then outstanding. Her experience with the Forest Service allows totally different backgrounds and plots--and fortunately she takes full advantage of this experience to make you feel you're there.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2012

    Another good thriller by Nevada Barr

    Hadn't read this one, although have read most of hers. This one is very good, and without the sometimes 'repetitively boring' love interest thrown into most novels.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Bearable

    This book would be of interest to anyone who is familar with Glacier Park or who have an avid interest in bear behavior. If not, there are many dragged out portions of this book. The mystery is fair and the ending is pretty stupid. Could have been much better.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2004

    GREAT STORY---NOT SO GREAT ENDING

    THIS IS MY FIRST NEVADA BARR BOOK. THE STORY WAS A GOOD MYSTERY AND THE FOREST SETTING MADE IT NOT SO RUN OF THE MILL. IT SEEMS AS THOUGH SHE DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO END IT AND CAME UP WITH SOMETHING SILLY ABOUT A TAME BEAR. NOT SO GOOD!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2004

    SWG 2001 Silver Medal Award

    Blood Lure by Nevada Barr won the 2001 SILVER MEDAL AWARD for BEST MYSTERY/THRILLER from the Southern Writers Guild.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2002

    This book was lame...

    This book had all the nuance and insight of a poorly scripted comic book. Written from the perspective of an extremly anal, painfully politcally correct and smug female forest ranger. The male characters are all weak charactered and pathetic stereo types and lack any soul what so ever and the female characters are all treated as if they (particularly the main character Anna) are somehow superior to all the males around them as a rule. Macho female characters and weak, spineless male characters and terribly hard to swallow coincedences make this barely believable book a big fat flop. This book book seems like it was was written to appeal to women who hate men, and at the same time want to be one. This book deserves zero stars but there's no choice for that.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2001

    What A Vacation!

    I have been a fan of Nevada Barr for many years. Looking forward to the beginning of each year for a new installment. Blood Lure was not a disappointment, Ms. Barr was up to her usual standard of great mystery and beautiful location. You know from reading this authors books, I think that the National Park Rangers are the true heroes of law enforcement. I¿m sure that Ms. Barr is not stretching reality when she describes what these guys have to go though to get the job done. Nevada Barr takes the reader into the life of a National Park. She has a wonderful dialog to describe this great country. If the reader does not feel that they are with Anna Pigeon every moment of the way, it is not Ms. Barr¿s fault. The author weaves a tight plot and mystery in this tale. She had me guessing and questioning everything along the way. Once again, Ms. Barr delivers a good plot with lots of twist and turns to keep the readers happy. The added plus, of any of the Anna Pigeon series is the environmental side of the story. Ms. Barr doesn¿t hit you over the head with ¿look what we¿ve doing to the land¿ preaching. But she does point out the impact that man is having on our natural resources. I like Anna Pigeon¿s look on life, humans are a part of nature, just wished they would become one with nature. Well, I¿ve rattled on enough. This is a wonderful series that I highly recommend. I also recommend that if you are new to this series, start at the beginning with ¿Track Of The Cat¿. I just can¿t see jumping into the middle of this series, I don¿t think you would understand all that is going on with the characters. They are such wonderful characters, really fleshed out and full of life it would be a shame to miss out on their development.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2001

    Another great one for Nevada Barr

    I have been reading Nevada Barr for a few years. Each book gets better. Anna Pigeon continues to flourish. Barr's character study is supurb. Not only does she create a very believable cast, but creates a story that is exciting and very educational for the reader...both in location and subject. I will make this book a staff recommendation for the B&N I work for. Enjoy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2001

    Another Winner

    Nevada Barr has written another highly-readable adventure featuring Anna Pigeon. As always, her descriptions of the natural surroundings make you want to reach for the road map. I look forward to reading more of her earlier books with the flawed but very likeable Ms. Pigeon.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent nature lover mystery

    Anna Pigeon normally works as a park ranger at the Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi, but currently she is temporarily on loan to the Wateron ¿ Glacier International Peace Park, Montana. Joan Rand leads a research team including Anna studying DNA of bears. Her superiors believe that the knowledge Anna gains on this project will enable her to do likewise at her own park. Also on the team is Rory Van Slyke as an Earthwatch sherpa and general gopher. <P> On their first night camping, they hear a bear. When the noise ends, Anna and Joan check for damage only to find two tents destroyed and Rory missing. As they call for help, another participant finds the body of a dead woman. A search party goes looking for Rory, finding him thirty-six hours later in shock with no other damage, but little memory of what happened to him. The corpse is Rory¿s stepmother, which leaves Anna wondering if he killed his relative. The other suspect is Rory¿s father, a spousal abuse victim. Anna is deputized to look into the matter, but too many clues makes it difficult to form a picture of what occurred and why. <P> Nevada Barr uses a picturesque style of writing as her words graphically describe the beauty, color, and danger of Wateron ¿ Glacier International Peace Park. The details allow the audience to feel as if they are part of the on-site research team. BLOOD LURE is a well-executed mystery with few readers guessing why the victim was murdered and who the culprit is. Once again, Ms. Barr has delivered a nature lover mystery that will provide plenty of enjoyment to fans of a cerebral puzzle. <P>Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted May 17, 2009

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    Posted May 17, 2009

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    Posted September 10, 2012

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    Posted January 13, 2012

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    Posted October 23, 2010

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    Posted June 11, 2009

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    Posted July 30, 2009

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    Posted December 4, 2010

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    Posted November 27, 2010

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