Boar Island (Anna Pigeon Series #19)

Boar Island (Anna Pigeon Series #19)

by Nevada Barr

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New York Times bestseller Nevada Barr brings National Park Ranger Anna Pigeon to the wild beauty of Acadia National Park in Boar Island.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250064707
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/30/2018
Series: Anna Pigeon Series , #19
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 94,833
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Nevada Barr is the author of the series of New York Times bestselling novels featuring Anna Pigeon, a law enforcement park ranger. Her novels include Winter Study, Borderline and Burn. She won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel for Track of the Cat. Like her character, Barr worked for the National Park Service as a park ranger before resigning to write full time. She had postings to such parks as Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas (where Anna Pigeon was created) and Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi. She lives in New Orleans.


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

Read an Excerpt

Boar Island

By Nevada Barr

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2016 Nevada Barr
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-7093-2


Fists white-knuckled on the crutches, sweat running into her eyes, Heath grunted like a sumo wrestler. She was walking to the window of her front room. Walking, as in proceeding forward in an upright bipedal manner by putting one foot in front of the other. For some people, toddling around a fifteen-by-twenty-foot room would be as nothing. For Heath it was a miracle, and she was sweating buckets for it.

Eight years before, she had fallen while climbing rotten ice in Rocky Mountain National Park and broken her back: no movement, no sensation below the waist. For an eternity of hopelessness she'd wallowed in self-pity. Finding in Elizabeth a daughter, and in Anna Pigeon a friend, had convinced her to abandon her plan to drink herself to death. It was then she had begun to embrace every nerve's worth of life she could win, earn, fight for, or steal.

During all those years, eye level had been precisely forty-four inches above the floor. One of the first things she noticed when she stood up — stood up out of her wheelchair on her own two feet — was that nobody had dusted any surface more than forty-five inches above the floor in at least five years. Who knew?

She smiled and looked at her reflection standing — standing — in the plate-glass window. Dem Bones, Elizabeth called it. Iron Woman in Dem Bones, Heath thought.

Anchored to the outside of each thigh was a long silver-colored piece of contoured metal that linked to a round hinge at knee and hip. Below, another metal lozenge ran down the side of her calf to attach to a horizontal brace that went beneath her shoe. A wide strap, reminiscent of a weight-lifter's belt, circled her waist. A battery pack the size of a hardcover book rode on the belt at the small of her back. On the right hip of her harness was a small control panel with buttons that allowed her to use the electronic exoskeleton to sit down and stand up. The rest was done with body movement. If she leaned slightly forward, wonder of wonders, shewalked forward. If she leaned back, the walking stopped. The entire assemblage weighed twenty-one pounds three ounces and could be folded into a case slightly smaller than a golf bag.

This was her second day with the skeleton. The first time she had stood up on her own — sort of on her own — she had suffered an attack of acrophobia so sudden and severe she'd nearly fallen. She, who had led precipitous climbs up sheer cliffs for fifteen years, looked down the five feet three inches from her eyeballs to her feet and felt as if she stood on the edge of a chasm a thousand feet deep, a vacuum sucking her into oblivion. She'd managed six steps before she hummed back into her wheelchair, exhausted from movement and terror.

Terror had quickly mellowed into excitement. Still, she felt fifty feet tall, a giantess looking down on a world of dwarves. A rush of power and awe fueled her every time she stood up.

Unfortunately, the machine wasn't hers. There was no way Heath could afford it. She was testing it for her friend Leah Hendricks, the research and development brain of Hendricks & Hendricks. Leah's device had three times the electronics of other models, was smaller and lighter, executed more minute movements, and was able to "learn." Heath had yet to tap into a fraction of what it could do. One of the drawbacks was that Leah had yet to figure out how to get the thing's battery to hold a charge for more than twenty minutes.

In a couple of months Leah would take it back to the lab to tinker with its finer points.

Heath chose not to think about how she would feel, who she would be, when this miracle was taken from her.

For now, she would only think of now, walking now, standing now. Now was good.

Twice she had walked the length of the room. Forty feet. Hooray for the para brigade, she thought. Give us forty feet and we'll take a million miles.

Harsh, repetitive racket shattered her moment of triumph. Rap music, an oxymoron to Heath's way of thinking, rudely pounded down the long hallway from the direction of Elizabeth's room.

Until recently, Heath's adopted daughter had been an aficionado of the lightweight modern version of what Aunt Gwen called bubblegum rock. That and, because children never cease to amaze their elders, anything by James Taylor. Heath had been unaware Elizabeth ever listened to rap. Boulder, Colorado, wasn't much of a Mecca for rappers; too white, too rich, too much spandex. The stuff playing now was ugly and dark, "bitch" and "whore" making up a good percentage of the lyrics.

Why Elizabeth would want to listen to this brand of aural poison was beyond Heath. Why Elizabeth would think Heath would allow it to be broadcast throughout her house, smashing all good karma in its path, was an even greater domestic mystery.

Heath waited a couple of minutes, catching her breath and hoping Elizabeth would come to her senses. The first goal was met with satisfying rapidity. The second was not.

"Wily," she said to the dog laying on the hardwood, watching her workout with narrow, sleepy eyes, "go to Elizabeth's room, boy. Unplug her whatever. Good dog!"

Wily yawned hugely, his mouth wide and crooked like his spiritual guide Wile E. Coyote.

"You're a big help," Heath said.

Pivoting with painstaking slowness, she got herself turned around and centered facing the hallway, the crutch braces biting into her forearms. There was a gizmo built in that gave Dem Bones balance, but she'd not yet come to trust her mechanized lower body, hence the crutches. Leah had tried to explain the engineering to her, but Heath's brain had stalled at the gyroscope analogy.

Fear of falling was an acquired — and necessary — paranoia for paraplegics. Given her fatigue level, it would have made more sense to use her wheelchair for the journey to the back of the house. Still and all, wheeling up, no taller than a hobbit, to lay down the law to a teenager didn't appeal to her.

From behind the crutches, extended like forelegs in front of her, the view down the carpeted hallway — to be replaced with hardwood the moment her bank account caught up with her special needs — looked impossibly long, the doors at the end appearing as distant as the pins in a bowling alley.

Heath sighed and began to hum "Who Were You Thinking Of" as she clasped her crutches through the sweat on her palms and began her robotic version of the Texas two-step. When it came to the two-step, nobody could beat the Texas Tornados.

By the time she'd made it across the living/workout/rehab room to the hall, Wily padding arthritically along behind, she was regretting her impulse to stand high and mighty over her daughter and wishing she'd dropped her rear end, exoskeleton and all, into Robo-butt — Elizabeth's name for the wheelchair.

Having reached the point of no return, equidistant from the rude noise in Elizabeth's room and the security of her wheels, Heath rested a moment before pushing on. Elizabeth had more reasons than an overcrowded psych ward to be moody and rebellious. It was the miracle of the child that she was blessed with a naturally sunny disposition. One of those enviable souls whose brain seems to effortlessly create sufficient serotonin to power a lifetime of optimism in the grimmest of circumstances.

Until a week ago, when sullenness and darkness had replaced the sun.

Or was it two weeks? As much as a month? No. Even a Johnny-come-lately mom like Heath wouldn't fail to notice over that length of time.

Heath told herself what she always told herself when she worried that an unmarried, crippled, ex-rock-climber was not the mother a girl as fine as Elizabeth deserved; what she lacked in experience she made up for with love. Also, they had E's godmother — Anna — and Dr. Gwendolyn Littleton. With Anna and Aunt Gwen for backup, Heath figured she could pull off the mother thing.

Leaning against the wall for support, Heath reviewed the past couple of weeks with her daughter. There had been red flags: Elizabeth found in tears and insisting it was "nothing." That was eight or ten days ago. Elizabeth switching screens on her computer, and snapping at Heath for sneaking up on her — as if Heath-cum-apparatus could sneak up on any hearing individual. Had that been a week back? Less. Five days.

The dark, hard rap music started day before yesterday. Elizabeth was listening to it on her iPod so loud Heath could hear the beat. She'd had no idea what the lyrics were, but Elizabeth had looked as if they were driving spikes into her brain.

Then today. The rancid, hate-filled, misogynist rant out in the air, poisoning the hearth fairies that protected the house. Aunt Gwen had made up the fairies when Heath was a little girl and afraid of the dark. This new dark was scarier.

Lots of red flags.

Heath had noticed. She'd mentioned Elizabeth's uncharacteristic behavior to Gwen. As they did with every step in the girl's development, the two of them hashed over Elizabeth's every move.

She was in the midst of the hormonal storms of puberty.

She had a fight with a girlfriend.

She had a secret boy-crush.

She had an embarrassing disappointment.

Heath and Gwen agreed not to interfere.

That was before the rap, Heath thought. This crap was not a red flag, it was a cry for help.

With an effort, Heath pushed away from the wall. White-knuckled, muttering, "Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones," she began the final, interminable few yards of hallway, cursing the carpeting with every laborious shuffle of her feet.

Sweat dripping from her nose, breath coming in puffs and gasps, she bumped open her daughter's bedroom door without knocking. Elizabeth was not there.

The bathroom door was ajar, rap blasting out, steam augmenting its hellishness. Forgetting the pain in her shoulders, Heath muscled her way across the room. Using a crutch as a battering ram, she bashed the bathroom door open with so much force it struck the commode.

Tail down, Wily growled.

Steam obscured the mirror and made a wraith of the girl in the tub. Momentarily disoriented, Heath would have fallen if she hadn't been wedged between crutches and doorframe. Vision cleared. What remained was a child — a young woman really, sixteen — in a bath so hot her skin had reddened below the waterline. She was holding a razor blade to her wrist. Tears and sweat poured down her face to fall like rain into the bath. A girl and a razor and an angry voice shouting "fuck that bitch" to the beat of a machine gun in the hands of a madman.

Heath reached over and pulled the iPod out of the speaker. Silence bloomed like a blessing, broken only by the drip, drip, drip of slow tears. Pressing a button on her wrist, she activated the metal bones. With a hum like that of an electric window in an older-model Cadillac, they eased her down onto the seat of the commode. She moved her crutches so they wouldn't be between her and her daughter.

"Honey ...," she said gently, and held out her hand. Elizabeth laid the razor carefully in her palm. Heath set it on the sink counter.

Elizabeth had been contemplating suicide with the layered blades of a Lady Schick. At best, she could have given herself what amounted to nasty paper cuts. Though she was in a hot bath, as the media always portrayed suicides for some reason, Elizabeth, being a modest girl by nature and upbringing, was wearing the iridescent blue one-piece bathing suit she wore for swim races.

Much to laugh at.

Nothing funny.

For a minute neither spoke. Elizabeth, flushed with heat, eyes and mouth swollen from crying, long dark hair sleek as a seal's pelt on her shoulders, looked so small and young.

A lump hard and hot as a burning coal formed in Heath's throat. "What can I do?" she managed, her voice burned and choking. "What can I say? Who can I kill? For you, Elizabeth, I will do it. Whatever you need, I will do it."


Denise sipped her Coke, flat and warm from neglect. Just like me, she thought sourly, then reminded herself not to let the sourness seep into her face. Pleasant expression neutralizing her muscles, she let her eyes casually wander past Peter Barnes and his entourage.

Park picnics had become exercises in self-control. Denise loathed them, but she was damned if she was going to let Peter keep her from attending. Tables were scattered on the grass behind park headquarters. Two, shoved together, were loaded down with hamburger buns and condiments in the oversized squeeze bottles that always struck her as mildly obscene given the flatulent sounds that sputtered out with the ketchup, mustard, and, especially, the pickle relish.

Peter was sitting with his new wife, Lily. Lily. Could it get any worse? He couldn't have married a Sheila or a Judy?

Or someone remotely his own age?

Like me, she thought again. Hatred burned like acid in the back of her throat. Peter was forty-six, four years older than she. Pretty little Lily had just turned thirty. Their baby, Olivia, was three months. Married fourteen months and a baby girl. Lucky, lucky Peter. Lucky Lily.

Three years had passed since Denise had been the one sitting next to Peter Barnes at the picnics. More. Thirty-eight months. Yet the wound had not healed. She still felt as if her skin had been peeled from her body, and her flesh, newly flayed, screamed silent and bloody for everyone to see.

For a time — months, maybe as long as a year — Denise had thought things were getting better. Then they started getting worse. Hate would roar like a lion, then tears would sting, but not fall. Thoughts of them flooded her mind in muddy rivers, bursting their banks. When the baby came, the flooding grew worse. Some days Denise could not escape endless tape-loops of images of that baby girl.

She hated Peter, hated Lily, though Lily hadn't been the Other Woman, just the next woman. How could she not hate Lily? Lily was young and pretty. Lily had Denise's life, Denise's man, and just to make sure the knife was twisted, the baby Denise could never have.

Could never have because of Peter.

She realized her eyes had been stuck on the happy little family too long, on the baby. Lily was holding the baby, feeding it from a bottle. Lily never nursed. The little cow had no milk.

Lily caught her, smiling, happy, welcoming.

Denise forced a smile that probably didn't work. Peter had undoubtedly told Lily about poor, old, pathetic Denise, the reject who had taken on the role of the ghost at the manor window, always present, never invited in.

Deciding she'd stayed long enough to prove she wasn't broken-hearted, Denise stood and carried her Coke to the nearest trash bin. In an impotent act of defiance, she didn't put the can in the recycle bin. Given that Peter had chosen to trash her life and recycle his own with the lovely, fertile Lily, she was damned if she would support his pet program.

Artie, the gung-ho new district ranger, sat at a table with one of the secretaries. Young and eager, he was trying to make being a park ranger more like being an Army Ranger, itching for black ops. Denise forced herself to smile at him.

After making it a point to saunter slowly from table to table saying her good-byes so it wouldn't look like she was slinking away with her tail between her legs, Denise made it to her Miata. The last few steps she staggered like a drunk. What the hell was that about?

Holding on to the low door to keep from falling, she took deep breaths. Tremors rattled her bones. Almost as if Peter — his eyes, all the eyes — the baby, Lily, everybody knowing, had brought on some kind of seizure, as if around Peter and his postcard-perfect life she could no longer fill her lungs. Bony fingers of a monster hand wrapped around her rib cage, squeezing and squeezing.

Paranoia rampaged through her veins.

No. No monster. No seizures. Hyperventilation is all. Lily doesn't know. They are fooled. I have them all fooled, Denise told herself. For the most part she knew she was right. Certain people had a knack for seeing the ghost behind the eyes. Those people Denise avoided. The rest, when they bothered to think about her at all, believed she had moved on, that she was just as thrilled as they were with the assistant superintendent's spiffy new family.


Excerpted from Boar Island by Nevada Barr. Copyright © 2016 Nevada Barr. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Boar Island 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The ending came as a total surprise. But everything was neatly tied together. I was disappointed when I reached the end of the book only because I wasn't ready for the book to end. Now I have to wait until the next one. Darn!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I seriously enjoyed this story. I especially liked how the author brought so many seemingly disparate components of the story into a cohesive explanation of one central plot. I have to say this one was outstanding, even for such a talented author as Nevada Barr. Stephanie Clanahan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this series but miss the focus on Anna. She seems to be backstage in the last two books.
Mommadonnabob More than 1 year ago
As usual, Ms Barr has delivered an exciting and riveting story in the saga of Anna Pigeon. I can't wait for #20!
Thymedust More than 1 year ago
The frail white and black tom peered uncomfortably into the camp, his paws prickling with unease. Would any of the cats remember him? Would anyone from Velvetstar's leadership even still be alive? This left him uncertain, and afraid, his ears flattening softly. "Hello?" He breathed softly, his whiskers trembling. (For those who do not know me, I am Thymedust, and I roleplayed here while Velvetstar was leader, a long time ago. I however, had to leave, as I broke my nook...This might be just a once in a lifetime post, because I'm not sure I can review twice on the same book on this site, so....Yeah) -Thymedust
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Andrew_of_Dunedin More than 1 year ago
Nevada Barr has developed a tried-and-true pattern of storytelling with the novels featuring her fan-favorite protagonist, National Park Service veteran Anna Pigeon. She also tries to stretch the boundaries on that style, lest the reader (and, I'm sure, the author) get complacent or bored. In Boar Island, the19th Anna Pigeon novel, Ms. Barr runs parallel stories. One involves a cyber-stalker menacing Anna's goddaughter, while the other addresses a murder just outside of the boundaries of Maine's Acadia National Park, where Anna has 3 weeks of temporary duty. Both tales are told from a different perspective – the former, a traditional “whodunnit” (albeit in the computer age), while the latter is a “we KNOW who did it, now how do they get identified and caught”, a style familiar to viewers of the late Peter Falk's Columbo television show. Both stories successfully stand alone; it feels almost like an episode of the old Love Boat series where we are watching two independent tales being played out, albeit with a common protagonist rather than shared supporting characters. When one stops to consider how many parallel stories each of us participate in on a daily basis in real-life, this concept brings a very true-to-life aspect to the novel. Typically in novels, when parallel stories are introduced, they turn out to be two heads of the same Hydra. In this case, while it is impossible to totally separate them given the common protagonist and the small area where both are occurring, they stay remarkably separated through most of the book (I won't say all – maybe they end up being tied together after all, maybe they don't, no spoilers here.) Oh yeah, and those of you who read the books to find out how Anna can be injured during the investigation will not be disappointed. I had a few issues with the “suspense” and “background” aspect of the novel. They felt too drawn out to me – bringing a sensation of boredom rather than background, and impatience rather than suspense. Mind you, this could be a factor of the narrator (or director) of the audio version I “read”, OR the simple fact that I only had a 2 week loan on the book from the library with no renewals, and had a ticking clock hanging over my head to get it finished and returned. OR perhaps the author took some necessary plot points and simply overdid them and I happened to be particularly sensitive to the overworking. I did like the author relocating most of the action to Acadia National Park – one of the jewels of the National Park Service that I've actually had the privilege of visiting. Her descriptions of both the Park and nearby Bar Harbor provided some pleasant reminiscing. RATING: 4 stars.
HillbillyLill More than 1 year ago
This book irritated me. it was a long story that was resolved in just a few pages at the end. Barr has never written as well as she did when she wrote Deep South. I miss that kind of suspense in her books.
MasonCanyon More than 1 year ago
The author’s characters are well-developed and realistic. Their interactions are plausible. She shows a vulnerable side to her characters, but also gives them strength and determination in other areas readers/listeners can relate to. Narrator Barbara Rosenblat does a great job of bringing the characters to life through her various vocals. Her mannerisms enhance the story and adds to the emotional elements. The rugged setting of a national park draws you in as the action of the story unfolds. The author weaves the strips of mystery into an entertaining tale. The story moves at a good pace as you fit the pieces together. FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sobryan More than 1 year ago
Nevada Barr is the award-winning author of the Anna Pigeon mystery series showcasing the national park system. “Boar Island” is the 19th novel featuring the hard-edged national park ranger who finds danger and mystery wherever she goes. Barr herself is a former park ranger, and she builds upon real-life experiences, places and people to bring Anna to life. As she starts her post at Acadia National Park in Maine, Anna gets a desperate call from her friend Heath Jarrod, who needs helps for her adopted teenage daughter Elizabeth. The girl is being spooked by nasty rumors and online bullying. Anna invites the mom, teen and an aunt to stay with her on Boar Island in the Acadia. Unfortunately, the stalker comes, too. When dead people start turning up in the park, Anna does what she does best – solve the mystery with cunning and stealth. ARC provided by
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm so happy to be back! The family and school situation has been so crazy lately that I just couldnt get on, and then I got a new phone that wouldn't support the format of the ap<_>p! Hope everyone is doing well! :* ^Mouse^
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautiful ginger she-cat with creamy white patches on her muzzle an paws. "May I join?" She asked. She noticed honeykit and winterkit. "Oh what lovely kits."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thinking about joining
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bio at lmj)) she pads around
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The small kitten crawled in softly
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
They wander in. "May we join?" They mew at the same time. (Moonkit~ a light grey shekit with white paws and tail tip. Rainkit~ a dark grey tom kit with white tail and paws)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm gonna leave this up for the day, but thank you to the few of you guys who are still around. Hopefully in time we'll grow again, but I think for now let's just focus on rping some fun stuff! Rose, let's talk at our book! :) We'll figure out what's going on with Lava and Spirit. In the meantime, I am going to briefly establish the rest of camp. You can talk to me in the next result if you want! <p> Sapphirestar exits her den with Honeykit behind her as normal. Raising the kit and losing Lavamist to an Ice Claw traitor have both sent the leader into more reclusive habits as of late, and she's hardly seen much of her clanmates recently. Honeykit has grown in size and ability considerably and is fast approaching the age of an apprentice. Her slender bodice is the perfect shadow of Spirit's, yet golden yellow eyes set her apart from him. All else however, is remarkably the same. Her confident stride, bravery, short attention span, as well as a weak desire to be close companions with others aside from Sapphirestar. The chocolate tabby leader takes a seat under the High Branch to give Honeykit some time to play, while she grooms her pelt and remains by herself. Honeykit has grown more used to exploring the entire clearing, even poking her head into a den occasionally, but she's careful to stay out of the way of the bigger cats as she does. ~Sapphirestar
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The she-cat sat in a tree looking around the camp with her lavender eyes as her silver fur swayed in the wind
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The frail black and white tom peered into camp, the aura of uncertainty and nervousness buzzing around him like bees. Would any cat from Velvetstar's leadership even be around still? His paws, prickling with anxiety, pushed himself ahead, each movement stiff and shaking. "Hello?" He managed out quietly, his head lowering softly as he sniffed the air. So many scents he never knew.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wha is the locaion of the place where the clans all gather, and the moonpool, starclan, and the dark forest are at? -inferno
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A silver-white shecat with a dark blue eye and a black eye paddes in gracfully. <p> ((Heeeeey lets see who can guess who I am and if I can possibly tell who is a BC cat here. ^^ ))
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She padded in. "Hello?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The she cat paded in.