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.