Park ranger Anna Pigeon faces down—or, more accurately, hides from and bedevils—an unusually dangerous criminal in upstate Minnesota’s Iron Range.
When you work in the national parks, what do you do with your time off? If you’re Anna, you take a camping trip with your friends Heath Jarrod, a paraplegic who once saved your life, and Leah Hendricks, an outdoor gear designer, as well as their respective daughters, so Heath can test the latest equipment Leah’s designed for other-abled campers. And if you’re Anna, things quickly turn violent. A gun-toting heavy dubbed “the Dude” confronts the party with three equally well-armed minions and announces his plan to kidnap Leah and Katie Hendricks and kill Heath and her adopted daughter, Elizabeth. Luckily for the women, Anna happens to have stepped out for a few minutes to spend some quality time alone with nature, and although the Dude has been informed that there’s a fifth woman, he’s easily persuaded that she canceled out at the last minute. So begins a prolonged game of cat and mouse in which Anna, unarmed and accompanied only by Heath’s elderly dog, Wily, stalks the oblivious predators and their victims, watching for her chance to disarm or kill the small-time thugs—leering Sean Ferris, witless Jimmy Spinks and gangbanger Reg Waters—or grab the brass ring by neutralizing the Dude. The formula guarantees nonstop suspense (though not so much if you’re convinced that Anna and her friends will survive), but Barr (The Rope, 2012, etc.), writing as usual with welcome delicacy and feeling, works a surprising number of variations on her theme, right up to the predictable but satisfying final twist.
A tour de force that’s both the most one-dimensional and the most satisfying of Anna’s recent adventures.