National Park Service Ranger Anna Pigeon works her 16th case in the most unparklike setting imaginable.
Minutes after Seattle actress Clare Sullivan awakens to find her house empty—no dog, no husband, no daughters—the building erupts in a flaming explosion. In the aftermath of the destruction, there’s even worse news: One of the officers who responded to Clare’s 911 call finds the charred bodies of her two girls, Dana and Victoria, dead in their beds, right where Clare had reported they weren’t. Driven equally by a single clue, an overheard fragment of a cell-phone call about the “Bourbon Street nursery,” and the certainty that the police will arrest her for the murders of her family members, Clare goes AWOL, hoping against hope to find Dana and Vee alive. Meanwhile, in alternating chapters, Anna Pigeon (Hard Truth, 2005, etc.), who has been forced to take a leave of absence from her job on account of her Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, spends the time visiting her friend Geneva Akers, a blind blues singer who performs at New Orleans’ Jazz National Historical Park, only a stone’s throw from Bourbon Street. It’s only a matter of time before Anna’s story intersects with Clare’s, and the moment of collision halfway through is the most successful surprise here. The sequel is all heartrending accounts of kidnapped and abused children, luridly detailed adventures among the Big Easy’s demimondaine, and a climactic assault on a pedophile brothel—sturdy stuff, every bit of it, but nothing that plays to Barr’s unmatched gift for linking Anna’s inner turmoil to the great outdoors.
An intense but conventional actioner whose two heroines aren’t nearly as compelling as Anna’s solo turns.