Book info

Ill Wind (2004)

Ill Wind (2004)
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Rating
3.88 of 5 Votes: 2
ISBN
0425197255 (ISBN13: 9780425197257)
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English
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publisher
berkley
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Ill Wind (2004)
Ill Wind (2004)

About book: The book ended and I was clicking the Next Page button on the Kindle in the futile hope the device had just lagged and there was still another chapter left to go.To that, Miss Barr, I say "Harrumph!" I don't trust you to follow through in the next books with the direction you suddenly took it near the end, there. I love that this is set in Mesa Verde, and I loved that she described the after-hours park having a creepy, otherworldly feel to it (to clarify: Pigeon's perspective, not her drama queen roommate's). When we stayed in the park a few years ago, I had a similar feeling about the atmosphere after hours. We were out at dusk on the balcony at Far View having a drink, and it was an eerie contrast to hear the muffled sounds of people on the other side of lit glass doors, while standing out looking over the deserted mesa. The weather was overcast, the wind whistled around the building and outside, it felt utterly empty and desolate. It felt like such a lonely haunted place, and it was unsettling. We saw (and photographed) strange lights that night from our hotel room that in daylight, turned out to be hovering several hundred feet above ground in a canyon. So, that said, the overall spooky feel of Mesa Verde...I'm right there with her. I wish we'd found some answers on the lights and solved our own little mystery, but of course all the park people would tell us was that "the manitou were restless last night." lolAnyway, the book:The words that I think of for this novel are "unflinching" and "realism." While the book is nicely balanced, it is punctuated with ugly moments that are either deeply uncomfortable to witness as a reader, or horrific in such a way that you feel a little sick in sympathy. They don't strike me as melodramatic or puffed up, or padded out for fiction's sake, but rather, detailed and brutally real.For Anna Pigeon, I kept thinking "hard bitten" but this is not entirely fair. She is certainly battle scarred and hiding in a bottle, she's a cranky introvert and a pragmatist/realist. She's isolated within herself and a lonely character. "Cranky introvert" and "isolated/lonely" might seem redundant, but her introverted moments are a deliberate step back from the nuttiness of people around her, whereas her isolation and loneliness are a result of a defensive shell she can't yet break through. She does have a softer side, which makes her a much more interesting, accessible character. I love her observations about people around her, her mingled annoyance and enjoyment of the public in her role as a ranger & her awareness of just what her role as a ranger is (and irritation with people who do not "get it"). Her warmth and sympathy towards nature and living creatures, and her unflinching self-awareness make her human. She also has some ugly "human" moments that are difficult to sympathize with or relate to. They are moments where we might be able to recognize the possibility in ourselves, but I can't imagine anyone would want to: her "late night" phone call to her sister, her "night out" after the kiva scene, for example. I could see it, but I cringed so deeply I didn't want to.Overall, I'd say: well rounded character with a big dent in the side. I can easily see, too, reading The Rope (prequal) and the first two books, how, had her life with Zach continued on, Anna would have ended up a NYC artsy beatnik type. In the Rope, she thinks she's had her naivety stripped from her with events back in NYC, only to have it *literally* stripped from her in her new environment. Her inner dreamer dies in NY, and seems to be further and further buried in the past as she moves forward. It's not a terrible trade-off, as her practicality and insightful view into human nature make a (perhaps) fair trade off. She reflects at one point where she'd be if things had not gone the way they did in NY, and jokes acidly that widowhood is easier than divorce.The story itself, very lightly spoilered:(view spoiler)[I liked it and the wrap up explained a lot about Rose's behavior. I liked Jennifer's "budding" phase as a ranger. I *love* Frederick the Fed. In many ways he's a more interesting character than Anna. He makes me smile. And therefore I assume he's going to end up dead in a novel down the road. I'm cynical that way.The "Black Widow" scene was horrifying, a little heartbreaking, and hilarious all at the same time. I felt so bad for her, but still laughed...but only after the fact, thinking about it. Not in the moment. In the moment, I thought I'd pretty much have the same reaction she did!The Kiva scene was brutal, but so well painted I could picture it easily. I loved Aunt Hattie. I wish we'd seen more of Dave.Couldn't quite recognize the lack of fuss over the maintenance yard scene early on. Anna seems to get her ass kicked then just go back to doing her usual thing the next day. That part seemed a little weird and it'd have certainly put a big dent in my night-time wanderings in the park, but hey, that's just me. (hide spoiler)]

My Rating 3 Stars for Mystery 4 for Setting AppealWith 58 National Parks in the US, Nevada Barr has more than twice the locales to stage her mysteries than Sue Grafton has letters of the alphabet. My enjoyment of the Anna Pigeon National Park Ranger Series is strongly due to the settings. Bear with me as I tell you this story yet again. My first Nevada Barr outing was Blind Descent, #6 in the series. It was given to me by the Park Ranger who led my cave crawl at Sequoia National Park. Had I read the book first, I never would have gone on the crawl. Mystery, nature, a strong female character ; I was hooked. Nevada Barr is one of my adopted authors in my public library. This means I pay the discounted price of the hardcover which gives me first dibs on her books. I love sponsoring Barr but am way behind.Ill Wind is the third in the series and takes place in Mesa Verde National Park Colorado. The ancient cliff dwellings make an interesting backdrop for murder. Anna finds herself very attracted to an unhappily married temp, Stacy Meyers. While on duty together, they are called out on several medical rescues, more than the norm and exhibiting unusual similarities. When Meyers is found dead these recent happenings all become too coincidental. Suspects abound including the Anasazi people themselves, though they vanished centuries ago."--that the ghosts or spirits of the original inhabitants of the mesa are popping up out of the underworld now and the, showing their displeasure at the modern tourism industry by striking down a select handful of the hundreds of thousands of people who pass through here every day."Some excellent side characters flesh out the story. Meyers precocious special needs step-daughter, six-year old Bella, and the best Aunt any kid could have, Hattie play good to Bella's mother, Rose, who could fly a broom . Rose certainly warrants a look see into the death of her husband. Aunt Hattie comes into the picture after Meyers death though she is described well before she's on scene by Bella "Aunt Hattie's like those big colored balloons, the ones with the little baskets for the people to ride in. she just lifts you up. zoop, zoop, zoop." Hattie describes Bella as "a magical spirit. Till I got to know her I'd pretty much forgotten how the world looks when you're new." Worth reading for these two alone. It's easy to see that Anna is tired and stressed. She is still raw from the death of her husband Zach, she's drinking too much, and she's forgotten how to cry. She's headed for trouble and her therapist sister, Molly, is not making any headway in the help department. Something has to give. Anna describes Mesa Verde as a park for the visitors, unlike the wilderness parks which are for animals and the plants dwelling within. "Humans paying tribute with curiosity and awe to human ancestry." "The pueblo hung above a world that fell away for a hundred miles, mesas, buttes, and green valleys fading to the blue of the distant mountain ranges that drifted into the blue of the sky. The air was crisp and thin. Without moisture to laden it with perfumes, it carried only the sharp scent baked from pinon and ponderosa." states Barr capturing it beautifully. With so much to look at the mystery becomes secondary.
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Reviews
Linda Day
Wouldn't you just love to have a name like "Nevada" ? It's so unusual for a first name, I mean. If you live in Las Vegas or Henderson, it is not so unusual. As I am from Michigan, and before that Utah, and before that Oregon, and before that California I could never have pulled it off ! Michigan Day ... sounds rather like a weather report wouldn't you say ?I digress ... so, this book "Ill Wind" is by Nevada Barr. I l.o.v.e. Nevada Barr ! And her heroine, Anna Pigeon, who is a Nat'l Park Ranger and each of her novels take place in Nat' Parks across this great country ! Anna Pigeon has a job that sounds kinda fun ... just playing a female Smoky the Bear, reminding us to "stamp out our fires" and all. But, oh no ! That is not the Pigeon way of life ! She dang near dies in every book ! She meets a different set of strange support staff in each of the parks as well. Except her sister who doubles as her therapist, and in this book, Frederick Stanton, an FBI agent that she worked with during the murders at Isle Royale Nat'l. Park in the UP of Michigan who are ongoing characters. Now Fred shows up again to help Anna save the day at Mesa Verdi Nat'l Park which protects the Anasazi ruins at the Four Corners area of the southwest. I like Fred. I gotta hunch he will be heard from again, too.Disappointingly, Barr uses a paragraph or two of objectionable language to set the character of Tom Silva. I'm just sayin' ! I can overlook that of my friend, Nevada ... :o)
Abbey Harlow
Starting with the pros: This was a great read for those who have been or are planning to go to Mesa Verde (as I am, in a few months). I enjoyed having this national park as a backdrop, and hearing about what goes on behind the scenes. Anna Pigeon is an intriguing protagonist, and I'll be interested to see how her character changes. Also, SO cool that the author is also a ranger.Other stuff: I've started reading more mysteries in the past year, and started to note why I think some mysteries succeed more than others. This one had a good premise, and did a lot of things well, but also felt a little stagnant and disconnected sometimes. For example, there was an entire 5 pages where Anna aimlessly drove around the park thinking about how she doesn't have enough evidence yet. Literally nothing happened. That could have been used to connect some of the dots more deeply. Also, the writing was a little poor - everything had to be compared to something else it seemed, to bring maximum visualization to the reader. For example, in the span of two paragraphs, a mouse in Anna's kitchen is compared BOTH to Gus Gus from "Cinderella" AND to whatever that rat's name is from "Charlotte's Web." There was no reason for this. The mouse played no role in the book, and we didn't need two comparisons to fat rodents from pop culture. In another scene, literally every single rock's size is compared to an object that readers know (a winnebago, a fist, a house, a room). I don't know why this happened.Anyway, the next one I"ll read is a little further into the series and it'll be cool to see how her writing has changed.
Frank
This is the 3rd entry in the engaging Anna Pigeon series. This one takes place in Mesa Verde National Park amid the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi Indians. Anna encounters some strange doings at the Park including a higher than average number of unexplained illnesses and injuries. On top of this, she has a murder to contend with of one of her closer friends at the Park. Some attribute the strange illnesses to the spirits of the Anasazi but Anna is able to untangle what is really happening with the help of FBI agent Stanton. Overall, I would recommend this one. I especially enjoyed it because of the locale. I have visited Mesa Verde a few times and Barr is great in her descriptions of this enchanting place!
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