Ranger Anna Pigeon, sent from the Rockies to Maine’s Acadia National Park for a three-week stint, finds the brief interval more than long enough for another round of murder and assorted skulduggery.
It seems like an especially good time to leave Boulder, where 16-year-old Elizabeth, the adopted daughter of Anna’s friend Heath Jarrod, has turned withdrawn and suicidal after becoming the victim first of unwanted and wholly inappropriate sexual overtures and then of an unrelenting barrage of cyberstalking and cybershaming. So packing up Heath, Elizabeth, and their dog Wily, Anna heads east just in time to run smack into a bizarre murder plot. Nurse Paulette Duffy, newly reunited with Acadia ranger Denise Castle, the identical twin separated from her for most of their lifetimes, is so convinced that her abusive husband, lobsterman Kurt Duffy, is going to kill her that she decides to strike first, establishing an ironclad alibi while her newfound sister does the dirty work. Denise, whose inability to cover her tracks is magnified by an inherited disease she doesn’t know about and a series of comically unlikely coincidences, arouses Anna’s suspicions almost instantly and just as quickly decides that “the pigeon” has to go. Lest Elizabeth feel neglected, her tormenter follows her to Acadia and demands a meeting that can’t possibly end well. By the time it’s all over, Anna will have been kidnapped twice, the second time duct-taped to a babe in arms.
After the razor-sharp focus of Destroyer Angel (2014), Barr’s latest is a surprisingly hot mess, awash in scattered crimes whose perpetrators’ behaviors defy belief. There’s not even much about Acadia National Park.