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Liberty Falling (Anna Pigeon Series #7)

Liberty Falling (Anna Pigeon Series #7)

3.7 22
by Nevada Barr

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Anna Pigeon is in Manhattan to look after her hospitalized sister, and explores the Statue of Liberty in her spare time. But when a teenage girl falls to her death from Liberty's ledge, Anna wonders if the suicide was actually a homicide-and begins an investigation that puts her in the line of fire.


Anna Pigeon is in Manhattan to look after her hospitalized sister, and explores the Statue of Liberty in her spare time. But when a teenage girl falls to her death from Liberty's ledge, Anna wonders if the suicide was actually a homicide-and begins an investigation that puts her in the line of fire.

Editorial Reviews

San Diego Union-Tribune
Nevada Barr has carved out her own fictional fiefdom, creating a body of work like no other.
Martha Moore
Unlike her previous mysteries featuring the admirable (if sometimes grumpy) Anna Pigeon, Nevada Barr seems a bit lost in Liberty Falling, like Anna is out of place in New York City. Just as Anna can't wait to return to her wide open spaces of Colorado, her fans will be eager to see her back at home, too. —The Mystery Reader.com
San Francisco Chronicle
...[O]ne of the most genuine protagonists in mystery fiction.
The Bloomsbury Review
...Liberty Falling is [Nevada Barr's] best novel to date. And considering her small but powerful oeuvre [Blind Descent, Firestorm, Track of the Cat and three other top notch efforts], that says a lot. Like the parks and monuments she writes of, Nevada Barr should be declared a national treasure.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Tenacious park ranger Anna Pigeon leaves the country wilderness for the wilds of New York City, where her sister Molly is hospitalized, in this seventh installment of Barr's popular series (Blind Descent, etc.). Although Anna is on leave, she gets involved in the investigation of two murders. An unidentified child falls to her death from the Statue of Liberty. The main suspect dies. Anna is attacked. An actress is fatally bludgeoned on Ellis Island. Anna's conviction that these events are connected leads to a cross-country search for a right-wing fanatic. As expected with Barr, the narrative teems with memorable characters-among them Charlie DeLeo, the caretaker of the Statue of Liberty's torch, and Anna's former lover, FBI Agent Frederick Stanton, now smitten with Molly. Though Barr ties up the many subplots in an action-packed finale, the mystery is slow to develop and there's little doubt that Molly will recover. Barr's atmospherics remain potent, however. Her evocation of the isolated, exotic nature of the two famous tourist attractions is a particular treat, bringing home how nature is inexorably reclaiming buildings and records a stone's throw from bustling Manhattan.
Library Journal
Having tackled New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns in Blind Descent (LJ 3/15/98), National Park Service ranger Anna Pigeon now confronts the wilds of New York City. In between hospital visits to her critically ill older sister, Anna flees crowded Manhattan for Liberty Island, where she's staying with a fellow ranger, and Ellis Island. However, several mysterious incidents--the fatal fall of a teenager from the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, the apparent suicide of a policeman accused of pushing the 14-year-old girl, a series of physical attacks on Anna--compels her to find answers. On a personal level, Anna also has to control her jealousy as she realizes that her former boyfriend is in love with her sister. Barr, a former park ranger, combines a plausible, intriguing plot with a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Liberty and Ellis Islands that few tourists see. One minus: Barr's tendancy to overdescribe sometimes slows the action down. Still, this will be in demand. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/98.]--Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"
School Library Journal
YA-With her New Yorker sister critically ill, park ranger Anna Pigeon is staying with a fellow U.S. Park Service employee on Liberty Island and commuting back and forth to the hospital. When Anna becomes involved with two suspicious suicides at the Statue of Liberty, her own life becomes endangered. While the atmosphere of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty is vividly created, the story never quite jells. It bogs down in dealing with Anna's sister's illness and her feelings for her ex-boyfriend, now her sister's fiance. Also, this book does not have the intensity of the previous titles in the series, which had wilderness settings. There does not seem to be much here to attract YAs.-John Lawson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Marilyn Stasio
It isn't the Grand Canyon, but to a naturalist like Barr, [the islands around Manhattan are] teeming with life.
The New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
What does National Park Service Ranger Anna Pigeon do on her own time? She goes to New York, of course-bedding down on Liberty Island, the speck of land the Statue of Liberty shares with thousands of tourists each day and has pretty much to herself each night. Staying with fellow ranger Patsy Silva in order to be close to her psychiatrist sister Molly, hospitalized at Columbia Presbyterian with pneumonia, a kidney infection, and more, Anna thinks her biggest headaches will be Molly's grave illness and Anna's need to deal somehow with FBI agent Frederick Stanton, the ex-boyfriend who deserted her for Molly. But darker trouble is already brewing. An unidentified 14-year-old girl who jumped to her death from the parapet around the statue's base has sent James Patchett, the guard who was pursuing her, into deep depression. Why was the girl more willing to die than to have Patch, who thought she was a pickpocket, catch her? Why has her backpack disappeared? And why hasn't anyone claimed her body? As Molly Pigeon shuttles in and out of Intensive Care, pausing only long enough to encourage Anna's romance with surgeon David Madison, more casualties pile up on Liberty Island, including two who leave behind cryptic messages that Anna's convinced would tie half a dozen mysterious portents together-if only she were wise enough to decipher them. Though Barr works her customary magic with the eerily deserted nightscapes of Liberty Island, they're just not as arresting as the Lechugilla caves (Blind Descent, 1998) or the wild scenes of any of earlier six adventures. Score a mere double this time for the Park Service's answer to Mark McGwire. . .

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Anna Pigeon Series , #7
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
File size:
630 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Of course Molly would live; anything else was unthinkable. But Anna was thinking it.

Concerned for her mental health — or their own — the nurses at Columbia-Presbyterian had banded together and banished Anna from the hospital for twelve hours. Once pried free of the rain-streaked monolith housing umpteen floors of misery, Anna fled the far reaches of the Upper West Side, spiraling down into the subway with the rainwater. Huddled on the Number 1 train, she rattled through the entrails of Manhattan to the end of the line: South Ferry. The subways weren't those she'd known as a young woman — a wife — living in New York City with Zach. These were clean, silver. They smelled of metal and electricity, like bumper cars at the carnival. Graffiti artists, frusfrated by the glossy unpaintable surfaces, made futile attempts to etch gang symbols and lewd declarations of adolescent angst in the plastic of the windows. Vandals lacked patience and dedication.

At South Ferry, Anna sprinted up the stairs and burst from the station like a deadline — crazed commuter and across the three lanes of traffic that separated the subway from the pier. The National Park Service staff boat, the Liberty IV, was waiting at the Coast Guard dock, floating on the tip of Manhattan Island. Anna got aboard before they cast off. Kevin, the boat captain, winked. "I wouldn't have left you." She knew that, but she'd needed to run, to see the planks of the pier passing beneath her feet, to feel she'd outpaced the demons, beaten them to the boat. Ghosts can't cross open water.

On shipboard, she kept running. Avoiding kindlyquestions from Kevin, she left the warmth of the cabin and went to the stern. Under the dispirited flapping of the American flag, she watched the skyline, dominated by the twin towers of the World Trade Center, recede, carried away on the wake of the Liberty IV. Patsy Silva, the woman on Liberty Island with whom Anna was staying, referred to this pose, this view, as her "Barbra Streisand moment." It was the East Coast equivalent of Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat into the air in downtown Minneapolis.

Crossing the harbor, Anna tried to fix her mind on the movie that had burned that image into the collective unconscious of a generation of theatergoers, but could not remember even the title.

The NPS boat stopped first at Ellis Island. From there it would continue its endless triangle, ferrying staff to Liberty Island, then the third leg of the run, back to MIO, the dock shared with the Marine Inspection Office of the U.S. Coast Guard where Anna had boarded. Farther out in the harbor, the Circle Line ferried its tourist cargo in roughly the same path but docking at different points on the islands. Anna was bunking in Patsy Silva's spare room in a cozy little cottage on Liberty Island in the shadow of the great lady herself. The view from Anna's bedroom — could it be duplicated — would jack the price of a condo into the high six figures. As it was park housing, Patsy and her roommate paid the staggering sum of one hundred and forty dollars a month; recompense for living in an area a GS-7 on NPS wages couldn't possibly afford.

Loath to go "home!' immediately, to strand herself amid the all too human accoutrements of coffee cups and telephones, Anna thanked Kevin, disembarked at Ellis, the Liberty IV's first stop, and slunk away, keeping to deserted brick alleys.

For ease of reference, Ellis was divided into three "islands," though all three of its building complexes shared the same bit of earth and were joined together by a long windowed walkway. Island I was the facility the tourists saw. Spectacularly refurbished in 1986, it housed the museum the Registry Hall, the baggage room and the service arm through which twelve million of the immigrants who poured into America from 1892 to 1954 had passed. Vaulted ceilings, as airy as those of a cathedral built to worship industry, intricate windows, modem baths, electricity, running water-all the state-of-the-art nineteenthcentury architecture — had been lovingly restored to its original grandeur. And returned, Anna had little doubt, to its original cacophony. At Ellis's peak, ten thousand souls a day were shepherded through the "golden door" to America. Now Ellis, in season, saw eight to ten thousand visitors from all over the world each day. 'Me raucous babble of languages must have seemed familiar to the old building.

Echoing off acres of tile in cavernous rooms, the din gave Anna a headache. She'd arrived in New York two days before. After a day of staring blindly at exhibits, she'd been driven to Islands II and III. In these crumbling urban ruins she'd found solace.

Isolated from the public by an inlet where Circle Line ferries disgorged two-legged freight, Islands II and III had been the hospital wards and staff living quarters when Ellis was an immigration station. One of the first American hospitals built on the European spa principle that fight and air are actually good for people, its many rooms were graced with windows reaching nearly from floor to ceiling. The infectious disease units on Island III were interconnected by long, freestanding passages, walled in paned glass. Ellis had boasted a psychiatric hospital, two operating theaters, a morgue and an autopsy room. At the turn of the century, the hospitals on Ellis were showcases for modem medical practices. That, and the fact that at one time or another nearly every disease known to man was manifest in at least one hapless immigrant, lured students and doctors from all over. They came to Ellis to teach, learn and observe.

In the early fifties the hospitals had been abandoned. Unlike the registry building on Island 1, they'd never been restored. There had never been funds to so much as stabilize the structures. Thus Anna loved them found in them the peace the sprawl of New York City had destroyed even in the remote comers of her famed city parks.

What People are Saying About This

Nevada Barr
From a barnesandnoble.com e-nnouncement

With each new book featuring park ranger Anna Pigeon, Nevada Barr garners greater critical acclaim and attracts increasing numbers of new fans. Barr's growing popularity has much to do with her uniquely refreshing protagonist and the nature of her book's settings. Each novel takes place in a National Park, with each locale as diverse as the scenery that Anna encounters -- from the Guadalupe Mountains National Park to Carlsbad Caverns. In Barr's latest, LIBERTY FALLING, Anna ships off to three new strange and exotic islands: Liberty Island, Ellis Island, and Manhattan Island. In an exclusive essay for barnesandnoble.com, Nevada Barr informs readers as to why she decided to bring Anna to New York for her latest mystery LIBERTY FALLING.

Spreading the News by Nevada Barr

Whenever I am asked to write about writing I have this almost irresistible temptation to wax esoteric and erudite just to sound more author-like. Just for the heck of it I shall tell the truth about how I decided to write LIBERTY FALLING, an exercise to see if I can still tap into reality when called upon to do so.

I was casting about for a new Anna Pigeon story when a woman I'd worked with in Mesa Verde emailed me. She'd been transferred to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Monuments. "This place is awesome," she said. (Her choice of 'awesome' must be forgiven, she has two children and, to survive, has had to learn the language.)

I doubted that, but it was as good an excuse as any to go to New York, where I had lived for seven years, and to visit my friend. She was right. It was awesome. The back side of Ellis, the undeveloped portion of the monument, is the most intricate, sizable, fascinating haunted house imaginable. History leaks from the brick in a palpable way. It was a new wilderness for Anna and me to wander in and find new adventures. The juxtaposition of this deserted microcosm and the crowded avenues of Manhattan took over my brain and the book unfolded. I sincerely hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

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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Liberty Falling (Anna Pigeon Series #7) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nothing started happening until a long way into the story. Too much background info made for a boring read. Normally, I like Anna Pigeon but she is starting to grate on my nerves a bit with her intrusiveness. Can the author not come up with a plot that does't make her seem like a busybody or a voyeur. Maybe let the plot have an actual personal connection so she has a reason to stick her nose in the situation. In this book, she just seemed annoying because she won't recognize boundaries or let others do their rightful jobs. Stephanie Clanahan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best of the Anna Pigeon series to date. Nevada Barr just keeps getting better. Her characters are quite well-developed in this book. Anna is a flawed snd believable protagonist.
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Sharpjake More than 1 year ago
Only the last chapter had much interest.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
A suspense thriller about murder in the Big Apple. A forest ranger finds herself back in New York to be with her dying sister. She had sworn never to go to this big city, but she finds herself in the centre of a series of murders right under Lady Liberty's nose.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As I was reading Barr's vivid descriptions of Ellis and Liberty Islands, I felt as if I was walking beside Anna Pigeon as she explored the hallowed halls. I was able to visualize the ivy-covered walls and the disintegrating stairways. The characters were interesting and I was able to connect with them, which is something that I have not been able to do in Barr's previous novels. I enjoyed the romance between Frederick and Molly. I hope the relationship lasts and the readers get to see more of them. I don't feel that Anna's involvement with her sister's doctor was needed. It didn't really add anything to the story. I was unable to fit the clues together so I was surprised by the solution. The story kept me riveted up until the very end. I have read several of Nevada Barr's previous installments in the Anna Pigeon series, but none compare with LIBERTY FALLING. It gets my vote for the best in the series!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As always I could 'see' Ellis Island through Barr's evocative descriptions, but I almost put the book down after reading cliche after cliche. This book would have received 5 stars if it had had less flesh and more prominent bones. Still a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Opposite of the Warrior Den and across the clearing a smaller sagebrush can be seen. This particular bush has more of a green hue to its gray leaves. Once past the rough branches, which surround most of the interior except a small opening at the front, it is obvious this place is perfect for young cats. When nests cover the floor of the den there will still be enough room for the occasional rough housing or storing treasures from kithood such as moss balls. The dense canopy prevents drafts or leaks while the stone floor in lined with various lichen. Here the cats training to become warriors can catch up on their sleep after the exhaustion of training. These apprentices have long awaited this den and, should they work hard, they will soon move on to even more honorable positions as warriors. ~ Apprentice Den, Sapphirestar <br> <br>