"Vivid prose, a surprising plot… Barr solidifies her position as the preeminent writer of outdoor mysteries."
-Booklist (starred review)
"What lifts the Anna Pigeon novels far above most other contemporary amateur sleuth mysteries is Barr's exquisite writing-it swoops, it soars, sails then catches you unawares beneath the heart and takes your breath away."
-The Cleveland Plain Dealer
-Booklist (starred review)
I've mentioned before that Nevada Barr's novels are rich with old-fashioned literary values. Too much mystery fiction today depends on gimmicks of one kind or another -- chapters that are 31 words long; looping italicised locutions to indicate the mind of the killer; totally dramatic presentations with virtually no narrative, as if the reader would be put off by it.
Barr reminds me of the literary masters of the past because she takes a wonderfully formal approach to her fiction. She plots extremely well, her scenes inform the senses as well as the mind and heart, and she knows the importance of back story to the essence of good fiction. We are what we were. In addition, she understands pacing. Before the place description (which in Deep South is especially gorgeous) gets too long, she alternates it with some short, punchy humorous scenes. And if the book threatens to get static, she gives us one of her superb action scenes.
Deep South is set just where its title says. It's a little more sociological than usual -- Barr has a nice eye for the differences above and below the Mason-Dixon line -- and a little darker in the way the central crime relates to the theme of the novel. And, as always, Barr gives us a workaday sense of ranger life and the pleasures of bonding with nature. Barr gets better and better; richer, cleverer, deeper, and ever more uniquely herself with each book. In an eminently readable and unpretentious way, she is moving her novels ever closer to mainstream.
In Deep South the landscapes of the various national parks that Anna, and Barr, have worked in ---their sights, sounds, and smells, the very texture of the air...are like vivid characters in the series, as well as Anna's inspiration and sustenance. Read just one of these gripping, witty, and beautifully written mysteries and you'll want to read more.
To quote KLIATT's review (in this issue) of the Recorded Books audiobook of this title: Barr's eighth novel follows her heroine, National Park Ranger Anna Pigeon, on to the Natchez Trace in Mississippi, where unhelpful male colleagues are the least of her problems. When the body of 16-year-old Danielle Posey is discovered the morning after the prom with a noose around her neck draped in a Klan hood, Anna must use all her wits to find the murderer among a large group of likely suspects. Was it a Klan murder? After all, the white victim had a black boyfriend and her family members are virulent racists. Was it her white football hero prom date, angry at rejection? Was it a local minister who committed suicide shortly after the girl's gory remains were discovered? Anna survives a brutal beating at the hands of the killer and finally finds the unusual motive to the crime. Highly recommended, with caveats for high school listeners. Obscenities, racial slurs, and violence are present but not gratuitous. KLIATT Codes: SARecommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2000, Berkley, 352p, 18cm, $6.99. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Janet Julian; English Teacher, Grafton H.S., Grafton, MA, March 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 2)
Soon after National Park Service Ranger Anna Pigeon moves to the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi, she discovers the body of a white girl in a remote area of the park. The body has been draped in a sheet and noosed--a twisted reference to Klan killings of the past. As Anna starts to investigate, she faces insubordination from her employees, resentment from the victim's family and friends, and lack of cooperation from the locals who frown upon a Yankee female playing a male role. Anna's life and investigation nearly skid out of control when she discovers that the victim had a secret black lover, a potential witness commits suicide, and the still-at-large killer threatens her. In this eighth Anna Pigeon mystery, Barr (Liberty Falling) paints a luminous picture of the geography and the people of the Natchez Trace. Anna is a delight--a tough, independent, funny, and slightly jaded middle-aged woman in a man's profession. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/99.]--Karen Anderson, Superior Court Law Lib., Phoenix Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
YA-This eighth mystery in the series, set in the Natchez Trace Parkway, is a real disappointment. When the body of a 15-year-old girl dressed for her prom is found half buried along the old portion of the trail, U.S. Parks Ranger Anna Pigeon must deal with sex discrimination and racial problems as well as adjust to the intricate culture of a small Mississippi town in order to solve the case. The story lacks the exciting plot and tension of some of the series' previous bestsellers such as Firestorm (1996) and Blind Descent (1998, both Putnam). Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Barr produces another suspenseful and highly atmospheric mystery, illuminated even in this now setting by her trademark lyricism in writing about the natural world.
As in her previous books, Nevada Barr weaves captivating descriptions in and around a lively plot that reveals new facets of an always intriguing heroine. Even better news, though: There are still plenty of national parks out there for Anna Pigeon-and her fans.
Nevada Barr's many fans won't be disappointed.
Barr's deft touch with both characters and plot ensures total immersion for the reader, down to the suffocating humidity and swamp stench.
As Nevada Barr's growing cult of readers knows, each Anna Pigeon novel is set in a different national park. Steeped in suspense, the fast-paced, brilliantly crafted Deep South brings Anna to the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi, the very same national park in which the author herself was most recently a ranger. On the Natchez Trace, the kudzu is thick and green, the woods are dark and full of secrets, and the ghosts of violence hover as Anna discovers a gruesome murder with frightening racial overtones. Now she must set aside all thoughts of personal safety to find the killer. Deep South proves that "like the parks and monuments she writes of, Nevada Barr should be declared a national treasure.