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Blind Descent (1999)

Blind Descent (1999)
4.04 of 5 Votes: 1
0380728265 (ISBN13: 9780380728268)
avon books
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Blind Descent (1999)
Blind Descent (1999)

About book: Trained teams of park rangers respond to catastrophes ranging from weather emergencies to presidential visits. In this book, Anna Pigeon is assigned to a team that is attempting to rescue an injured “caver” who has broken her leg down in the Lechuguilla, a relatively uncharted cave near New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns. The injured woman is Frieda Dierkz, the dispatcher from Mesa Verde and a friend of Anna’s. It is felt that Frieda will find Anna’s presence soothing.The only problem is that Anna is highly claustrophobic. The idea of venturing into dark, tight caves is anathema to her; and she struggles to overcome her own fear so she can help her friend. Frieda seems to welcome her presence, however, and confides that she believes her injury was caused by someone intentionally. As the team transports Frieda out of the cave, there is a huge avalanche. Anna finds evidence that this was caused by a human, not by nature. The stakes become higher when another caver is killed and Anna is shot at.Every one on the team in the cave is the object of Anna’s suspicion, and she makes only one friend while investigating. Park officials are only too anxious to see her leave. Anna doesn’t always follow the rules, and she irritates many of the people in power.Barr describes the cave environment lyrically. The descriptions are vivid; and despite Anna’s claustrophobia, she appreciates the subterranean wonders of the cave. Barr also emphasizes the concern that the cavers have for the environment, which cannot repair itself. There’s a funny scene where all the cavers strip naked to cross a pool. They don’t want to despoil the water with the grime from their clothing.There’s more development of Anna’s internal character than in past books. Her fear of the cave is real, and her tenacity in spite of her inner qualms is commendable. One area that doesn’t ring true is the fact that Anna is a recovering alcoholic of 2 years and begins to drink beer and wine again with no problem. Most alcoholics would not be able to handle the return to drinking so easily.BLIND DESCENT is filled with the details of the world of cavers, including the processes they use to traverse a cave and the awesome sights that may never be seen by other eyes. Despite the beautiful prose and the skilled characterization, the plot dragged during several points in the book. However, the heart-stopping action of the ending redeemed the book. Barr is a best-selling author, and this book a fine example of what she does well.

So as someone who is claustrophobic, I found this book utterly terrifying since the majority of the book consisted of various caving expeditions deep underground. The author's descriptions were amazing though, and really made the cave come to life, and i could almost feel like i was there scrambling through the mud, walking through the aragonite crystal forest, or wriggling through the wormhole-like tunnels. As the caving expedition started in the book, I began thinking that perhaps caving was something that Jeff and I would really enjoy and that I should just swallow my fears and buckle down and try the story progressed though, i realized that I would undoubtedly be much happier with my feet always above the ground. However, I think I might like to try the more commercialized and "domesticated" Carlsbad Caverns (that part sounded perfectly safe - no caving gear required, there's even an elevator!) Perhaps we'll make it out there to try it sometime. Anyway, long story short, the book was really good: great setting, great plot, great characters, great twist at the end, and as usual excellent descriptions of the park and its "resources." My only complaint is that, once again, the book seems to end very abruptly. The conclusion after the story's climax takes only a page, so it feels strange. You're really engrossed in the story, and stuff is happening bam bam bam, then its all over, and she wraps everything up in a paragraph or two. It be nice to ease out of the story a bit more slowly. This way, the reader feels abit as though she is left hanging, and saying "that's all? where's the rest?"
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Bill Currie
Nevada Barr has excellent descriptive imagery of landforms and lifeforms. However her detailed telling of Anna Pigeon's observations within the cave was marvelous reading. Her every movement, what she saw, the placement of her body, arms and legs, manoeuvring through the obstacles of repelling and ascending at times which seemed impossible. A thrilling ride of adrenaline and suspense. My only compliant is Anna is always the heroine but always being reprimanded even though she solves murders, crooked government employees and NPS officials. Will someone give her a medal and a raise?
Lechugilla Cave, located in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, is the setting for the 6th Anna Pigeon mystery. Unlike the main tourist-friendly cave, Lechugilla is wild and largely uncharted. Anna’s coworker and friend, Frieda Dierkz, is part of a small survey team. There’s an accident, Frieda is badly hurt and Anna is asked to be part of the rescue team. Battling claustrophobia every step of the way, Anna focuses on navigating through tight passages, across gaping pits and around precious formations. Upon reaching her semi-conscious friend, she understands why Frieda so desperately wanted her to be part of the rescue team: the accident was not an accident and Frieda needs someone by her side she can trust. Before the end of the story, there will be two murders to solve—and possibly a new love interest for Anna.The Anna Pigeon series just keeps getting better—and I’ve loved it from the start! Barr does a simply incredible job conveying Anna’s struggle against claustrophobia, creating a cast of plausible suspects, and evoking the wonder and terror of this subterranean world.
As with all the other books in the series, I really enjoyed this book. However, I think most of my enjoyment came from the series as a whole rather than just this book. There are 16 books so far and I have read a handful of them...and not in order either. Most of the books I've read are the more recent issues. Blind Decent is #6. At first I was annoyed because Anna Pigeon (the main character) did things that she would not normally do. A small example is sit her rump down in the dirt. She would rather crouch on her heels, be just as comfortable, but have a quick way to move if necessary. I soon realized that a lot of the characteristics I like about her were probably picked up in later books. I've found that the author has an amazing way to allow the characters to grow and learn through each book just as in real life. You'd think that having 16 mystery books all revolving around one main character would make things redundant. In some ways they are, kind of like "Murder She Wrote". Actually A LOT like "Murder She Wrote". But because each book is based in a different National Park and the author is incredible with her way of describing every detail of the natural beauty in each park, each book carries its own uniqueness. Weather you read the book for the mystery or for the sense of being out in nature, or both, you won't be disappointed.
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