Ill Wind (Anna Pigeon Series #3)

Ill Wind (Anna Pigeon Series #3)

4.1 26
by Nevada Barr

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Lately, visitors to Mesa Verde have been bringing home more than photos--they're also carrying a strange, deadly disease. And once it strikes, park ranger Anna Pigeon must find the very human source of the evil wind.


Lately, visitors to Mesa Verde have been bringing home more than photos--they're also carrying a strange, deadly disease. And once it strikes, park ranger Anna Pigeon must find the very human source of the evil wind.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Barr lands another successful entry in the solid series featuring Anna Pigeon, the down-to-earth National Park Service ranger last seen in A Superior Death (1994). The daily problems at Mesa Verde National Park are mostly straightforward, although Ted Greeley, the contractor installing a water line, tends to irritate folks (especially the park archeologist, incensed about Greeley's indifference to buried Anasazi artifacts), and Patsy Silva, a park secretary, is getting ``weird'' messages from her ex-husband, who has joined Greeley's crew. The summer takes on darker hues when ranger Stacy Meyers panics so badly during the evacuation of an asthmatic child that he is useless. Soon afterward, Stacy vanishes; his corpse is found tucked away in the park in a scene of death that is ``pathologically neat.'' Anna is assigned to assist Frederick Stanton, the deceptively ``vague and bumbling'' FBI agent sent in on the case; as they match wits with an unknown adversary, their working relationship takes on warmer tones than at their last meeting. Despite being troubled by memories of her late husband and her increasing fondness for alcohol, Anna (usually) displays that common sense and appreciation for nature that makes her such good company. Literary Guild and Mystery Guild selections. (Apr.)
Wes Lukowsky
Anna Pigeon, a park ranger at Colorado's Mesa Verde National Park, is a woman on the mend. She's a widow, she's battling alcohol dependence, and she's recently changed jobs. Despite her pain, she reaches tentatively toward Stacey Meyer, a ranger trainee who has also endured his share of middle-aged pain. Shortly after he mishandles a crisis that results in a child's death, Stacey himself is found dead. Suicide? Anna thinks it unlikely. Murder? Possibly, but who and why? When the husband of another park employee is killed in a suspicious car wreck, the case takes on broader implications. Through it all, Anna struggles with her middle-aged angst, her alcoholism, and her loneliness, drawing support from long-distance calls to her sister, who serves the functions of both a Dr. Watson and a voice on the other end of a crisis hot-line. This third entry in the acclaimed series is as much a personal journey of self-discovery as it is a mystery. Anna is a flawed but admirable woman struggling daily to determine her values and her value in a harsh world. An outstanding novel.
From the Publisher
"Stirring...vivid...vibrant...intelligent."—New York Times Book Review

"A fine tale of murder and greed."—USA Today

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Anna Pigeon Series , #3
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
File size:
413 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

NO GRAVEYARDS; that bothered Anna. People died. Unless you ate them, burned them, or mailed them to a friend, the bodies had to go somewhere. In any event, there would at least be bones. A civilization that lived and died for six hundred years Mould leave a mountain of bones.

No graveyards and then no people. Inhabitants cooking, weaving, farming one day, then, the next, gone. Pots till on cold ashes, doormats rotting in doorways, tools lying beside half-finished jobs.

So: an invading army swooped down and massacred everybody. Then where were the bashed-in skulls? Chipped bone fragments? Teeth sown like corn?

A plague: the American version of the Black Death, an antiquated form of Captain Tripps, killing two out of every three people. The survivors abandoning a desolated community, carting thousands and thousands of dead bodies with them? Not bloody likely. Not in a society without benefit of the wheel.

Once people got factored into an equation all bets were off; still, there ought to be corpses. Anna couldn't think of any civilization that couldn't be counted on to leave corpses and garbage for the next generation.

A hand smacked down on the Formica and Anna started in her chair.

"Where were you?" hissed Alberta Stinson, head of Interpretation for Chapin Mesa.

"Anywhere but here, At," Anna whispered back. She dragged a hand down her face to clear it of dreams and looked surreptitiously at her watch. The staff meeting had been dragging on for two hours. The coffee was gone and there never had been any doughnuts.

Stinson poked Anna in the ribs with a blunt forefinger. "Stay awake. The Boys are ona rampage." At always referred to Mesa Verde's administration rather disdainfully as "The Boys." Stinson was fifteen pounds over what the glossy magazines recommended, with salt-and-pepper hair that looked as if it had been cut with pinking shears. Leading tours, giving programs, wandering the myriad ruins on the mesas, she had a face creased by the weather from forehead to chin, and the skin around her eyes was crinkled from squinting against the sun's glare. Near as Anna could tell, the woman had but two passions in life: discovering why the Old Ones had vanished and seeing to it that any despoilers of their relics did likewise.

Anna pulled Stinson's yellow pad toward her. Beneath At's sketches of nooses, guillotines, and other means of mayhem, she scribbled: "No help here. I'm a lowly GS-7. teeth."

Al snorted.

Thirty minutes had elapsed since Anna had mentally checked out and still the debate raged. Money had come down from Congress, scads of the stuff, allocated for the digging up and replacing of the antiquated waterline serving the homes and public buildings of Mesa Verde National Park. Since May heavy machinery and heated arguments had roared over the ancient land. Meetings had been called and called off on a weekly basis.

The resultant acrimony clogged the high desert air like dust from the ditcher. As always in small towns, toxins trickled down. When the powers that be waged war, the peasants took sides. Even the seasonals gathered in tight groups, biting assorted backs and sipping righteous indignation with beer chasers.

New to the mesa, Anna'd not been drafted into either army, but the constant dissension wore at her nerves and aggravated her hermit tendencies.

Around a table of meta) and Formica-the kind usually reserved for the serving of bad chicken at awards banquets -- sat the leading players: a lean and hungry-looking administrative officer with a head for figures and an eye for progress; the chief ranger, a wary whip of a man determined to drag the park out of the dark ages of plumbing and into the more impressive visitation statistics additional water would allow; Ted Greeley, the contractor hired to pull off this feat in a timely manner; and A] Stinson: historian, archaeologist, and defender of the dead. Or at least the sanctity of science's claim on the dead.

When the Anasazi had vanished from the mesa, their twelfth-century secrets had vanished with them. Stinson was determined to stop twentieth-century machinery from destroying any clue before it was studied. Since the entire landscape of Chapin Mesa was a treasure trove of artifacts, the digging of so much as a post hole gave the archaeologist nightmares. The contractor had been brought on board to trench seventeen miles of land six feet deep.

Theodore Roosevelt Greeley of Greeley Construction had a job to do and was being paid handsomely to do it.

Though Greeley had a veneer of bonhomie, he struck Anna as a hard-core capitalist. She suspected that to his modern Manifest Destiny mentality, the only good Indian was a profitable indian.

Fingers ever -- tensed on the purse strings, the chief ranger and the administrative officer leaned toward Greeley's camp.

Anna and Hills Dutton, the district ranger, were the only noncombatants present. Dutton's impressive form was slouched in a folding chair near the end of the table. He'd removed the ammunition from the magazine of his Sig Sauer nine-millimeter and appeared to be inventorying it bullet by bullet.


As was his want, the chief ranger was mumbling and it took her a second to recognize her name.


"Any input?" The chief was just shifting the heat from himself. None of this august body gave two hoots about what she thought. She and Hills were there only because the secretary refused to go for coffee.

"Well, if all nonessential personnel were required to live out of the park the problem would be alleviated considerably." Nonessential included not only seasonal interpreters, but also archaeologists, department heads, the administrative officer, the chief ranger, and the superintendent himself. Anna's suggestion was met with annoyed silence. Satisfied she'd offended everyone at the table and it would be a good long time before they again bothered her...

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"Stirring...vivid...vibrant...intelligent."—New York Times Book Review

"A fine tale of murder and greed."—USA Today

Susan Isaacs
Terrific...Nevada Barr's mysteries keep getting better and better...Ill Wind is enthralling, entertaining, and mysterious: everything a mystery should be.

Meet the Author

"Nevada Barr has carved out her own fictional fiefdom, creating a body of work like no other, the San Diego Union Tribune remarked in 1996 upon the publication of the fifth book in Barr’s acclaimed series featuring National Park Service Ranger Anna Pigeon. Since the 1993 publication of the first Anna Pigeon novel, Track of the Cat, which was awarded both the Anthony Award for Best First Novel by The Crime Writers Association and the Agatha Award for Best First Novel by Malice Domestic, Barr has earned a reputation as a talented and much admired writer. As the Chicago Tribune said, “Nevada Barr is a park ranger who can write up a storm.”

The daughter of two pilots, Barr bears the name of the state in which she was born. She grew up at a little mountain airport in Johnsonville, California. After attending college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and completing her graduate studies at the University of California at Irvine, she moved to New York City to pursue a career in theater. She stayed there for five years, as a member of the Classic Stage Company, performing in Off-Broadway shows.

From New York, Barr went to Minneapolis, where she tried her hand at more theater work, landed some spots on television commercials, and worked on industrial films, among other things. Her former husband was involved in the Park Service, which inspired her interest in wildlife and conservation, and eventually led to the profession that until recently she shared with her main character: National Park Service Ranger.

When she felt she could afford to, Barr began to work summers at various parks, and spent her winters pursuing a career in writing. She published her first novel, Bittersweet, in 1984, but it was during her tour of duty in Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, that Barr conceived of the Anna Pigeon character and began the series with her critically acclaimed, award-winning debut, Track of the Cat, in 1993. She then followed up with eight more novels set in various National Parks: A Superior Death (1994) set in Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado; Ill Wind (1995) set in Isle Royal National Park in Michigan; Firestorm (1996), which was awarded France’s Prix du Roman d’Adventure and nominated for Anthony Award for Best Novel, set in Lassen Volcanic National Park in California; Endangered Species (1997) set in Georgia’s Cumberland Island National Seashore; Blind Descent (1998) set in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico; Liberty Falling (1999) set at Liberty and Ellis Islands in New York City, Deep South (2000), set in the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi, Blood Lure (2001) set in the Waterton National Peace Park in Montana and Canada, Hunting Season (2002) set in the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Brief Biography

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

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Ill Wind (Anna Pigeon Series #3) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ill Wind tells that story of Anna Pigeon as she's working at Mesa Verde National Park. While she is working there, the murder of a fellow ranger occurs. Or is it a murder? Few clues are left for Anna and Fred, who comes back to help in this book, to ever figure out this mystery. This along with the blending of truth and lies lead to a twisting tale that never gives up who- or what -did it until the very end. A major theme that keeps reappearing is dealing with loss, as each character gives into their way of coping with the death. The book also had the subtle message to not drink over-excessively, for the characters that did have a harder time than others. What a mainly liked about this book is the mystery behind it all, as it gnaws on your nerves, and makes you want to just keep on reading until you realize that its 12:00 AM and you have to get up and go in less than 6 hours. When the book starts out, you're completely unsure about just what is going to happen, and it builds you up with each of the characters, then tosses you into the story. The only dislikes I would have about this story is at times it is hard to figure out what is going on at the moment, and I would have to reread passages to get really what they meant. A person should read this as it creates a great escape from reality, that's still in reality. It's like all those cop shows that everyone seems to like, yet in book form with a thicker plot line. Other recommended works for people who like murder mysteries would have to be other stories by Nevada Barr, such as A Superior Death and Track of the Cat. For the book as a whole, I'd have to give it a 4/5, as it kept my on the edge of my seat throughout the story and got me really attached to every character.
Anonymous 4 days ago
Honeykit pads into the quiet nursery and over to the only nest in use by her and Sapphirestar. The white and black kit waits for Winterkit by the edge of it, where a collection of feathers, stones, and even a few twoleg devices are gathered in a neat pile. -Honeykit
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
not the first in this series for me and not the last ... not taking Nevada Barr for granted here at all but this was just a addictive as the others
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nevada Barr keeps getting bettrr with each addition to the Anna Pigeon saga. I am already anticipating the next one. Stephanie Clanahan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I happeed to find this in a thrift shop while preparing for a trip to Messa Verde. It was my first encounter with Anna Pidgeon. I enjoy reading books with local color on vacations and I quickly fell in love with Navada and Anna. Since then, I have read almost all of the Navada Barra/ Anna Pidgon stories. I am saving a few for upcomming Nat. Park trips and aleays look foreward to Anna's next adventure. The only drawback, however, is that after reading several of these adventuer mysteries, I've noticed a certain pattern inthe villans - one that annoys me, but which I can forgive in the name of an otherwise good story with that local color I crave. GO ANNA and please keep witing, Navada! Ps. In my travels,I have met several park raangers who remember Navada from her various postings and who speak highly of her work as a ranger and as an author.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Nobody does it like Nevada Barr. Her grasp of nature, adventure and sense of humor combine for a great read. This was a fine mystery that kept Anna Pigeon moving and incorporated a great character (Fred the Fed) from a previous story. The only fault with this book was that some of the female characters were confusing at times. Anna's two roommates for one, and it was hard to distinguish between Patsy and Rose at times. Some of the mystique of Mesa Verde could have been brought out a little more too. Over all is was a good book and a good read.