TRACK OF THE CAT
A West Texas park ranger's fatal mauling by a mountain lion is only the first of a series of suspicious accidents in the Guadalupe Mountains. Soon after, ranger Anna Pigeon, who's not satisfied with the way the official story blames Sheila Drury's death on innocent animals who are killed in retaliation, nearly falls to her death from a mountain trail; then UFO-seeing herpetologist Craig Eastern is attacked by the snakes he's been collecting. The mystery behind these accidents is routine, but the casting of women in key positions of power--the coroner and chief ranger are also female--is refreshing, as is Anna's unconventional, and very human, attitude toward her chief suspect, Sheila's lover Christina. The only flaw in this modest hardcover debut is the testosterone behind the violence, an explanation just a bit too pat. But Anna's low-key, unafraid narration makes up for it.