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“Endangered Species” by Nevada Barr

Just finished “Endangered Species” by Nevada Barr (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1997), one of the early Anna Pigeon, park ranger, series. I didn’t like this book nearly as well as I did her recent entry, “13-1/2”, which I reviewed last month (I loved that one, by the way), but it held my interest long enough to finish the book.

In this one, Anna is doing a short stint on fire presuppression duty at Cumberland Island National Seashore off the coast of Georgia when a small plane crashes on the island.  The investigation reveals suspicions about the crash and about several of the island inhabitants, including her co-workers, and Anna decides she must get to the bottom of things, putting herself and her career in danger, of course.

Now I am sure Cumberland Island must be quite beautiful and historic, and the author includes copious amounts of description, but it appears to be home to way too many chiggers and ticks for me to ever consider visiting there.  I’m sure it was not Ms. Barr’s intention to turn off the reader in this fashion, but I was sufficiently grossed out.  I also had trouble empathizing with Ms. Pigeon’s character.  I never got the feeling I completely understood her emotions, especially in regards to her relationship with her boyfriend, Frederick, and I can’t quite relate to her nude outdoor excursions either.

But the plot was fairly interesting, and the book is worth a read.

Stieg Larsson Trilogy

I haven’t had too much time this week to do a lot of reading, as we were on the west coast of Florida visiting old friends we had not seen in forever, it seems.  The Gulf coast area is beautiful this time of year! 

But I had better get going – I am reading “Tough Customer” by Sandra Brown.  Waiting on my desk are “Perdition House” by Kathryn R. Wall, and “Endangered Species” by Nevada Barr, and I stopped by the library on my way home today and spotted a copy of “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” by Stieg Larsson, the third in his trilogy, so I grabbed it.  I was surprised to see it available, as I was on the waiting list at the library for his second book for 2-3 months.

If you have not read any of the trilogy by Stieg Larsson, I would highly recommend them.  It would be helpful to start at the beginning with “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and then his second, “The Girl Who Played With Fire”.  Many elements of the plot carry forward from the first book into the second, so you will enjoy the series much more if you take them in order.

This author was Swedish, so all the names and places in his books are Swedish, which makes it a little harder to pronounce them and to remember who is who.  His first book has so many characters from the same family, there is a family tree in the beginning for you to refer to if you can’t remember.  

But don’t let that put you off, or you will be missing out on some great fiction.  It’s not so important that you remember all the characters’ names and relationships, as long as you can get the main ones down and the gist of what is going on.  None of this detracted from my enjoyment of the book. The author has created a great character in Lisbeth Salander, very different and interesting, and there is a lot of action, intrigue,  and excitement.

Sadly, Mr Larsson passed away at a young age, just after completing this trilogy, so he never lived to see the tremendous success he has become.  I would have loved to read more from him. 

I will report on “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” when I finish it.  But please get started on the others – you won’t be sorry.

http://www.stieglarsson.com/

“13 1/2” by Nevada Barr

This is a terrific book!  I had never read anything by Nevada Barr before, although she has been writing the Anna Pigeon Mystery series for some time.  However, this is a recent stand-alone book (2009, Vanguard Press), not part of the series, so I chose it for my first read.

When I picked the book up at the library, I was surprised to learn it was still a 14-day book.  I thought , “OK,  I need to make sure I get this one read in a hurry.”   Not to worry – I picked  it up on Monday at 4:00 P.M. and finished it on Wednesday by 2:00 P.M.  I could not put it down!

This story is about Dylan Raines who, as a child, was convicted of murdering his parents and younger sister, and how his later life under an assumed identity intersects with a woman, Polly Deschamps, who also has a sordid past to hide.  The murders take place in Minnesota in the 1970’s, and these two meet later in 2007 in post-Katrina New Orleans.  The book flashes back and forth between these two time periods, which is not a problem, since each section is clearly marked when there is a shift in time, and the chronology makes perfect sense.

When Polly gets a warning from a mysterious fortune-teller, she begins to suspect the man she fell in love with is not what he seems, and that her life, along with her children’s, might be in danger.  Of course then events spiral toward an inevitable confrontation and a deadly conclusion.

The author goes to great lengths to try and get into the head of a psychotic killer, describing in detail what happens in Dylan’s mind while he is locked away in a mental hospital.  Once in a while, these descriptions seem a little overdone to me, but other than that, I loved the book.  It takes place in New Orleans, one of my favorite spots, so I enjoyed that aspect of it especially.  I could picture where the scenes were taking place, making them all the more vivid.

Try this one – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Nevada Barr’s website:  http://www.nevadabarr.com/

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