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Track Of The Cat (1993)

Track of the Cat (1993)
3.85 of 5 Votes: 2
0380721643 (ISBN13: 9780380721641)
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Track Of The Cat (1993)
Track Of The Cat (1993)

About book: While I was working on my MA in history, I spent two glorious summers at a provincial park. I spent my time creating and delivering historical and ecological programs, and hanging out in nature.I saw a lot of those summers reflected in this book. The patrol horses. The relationships between seasonal employees and full timers. Visitors totally unprepared to face the heat. The protective sense you get for a space that doesn’t belong to you, but becomes incredibly familiar and important. A community develops, a much strong one than in other places I’ve worked.Luckily no one died while I was there though.I liked this book a lot. I found Anna engaging, and it was nice to read about a strong confident, single woman in her late 30s. Sometimes I find that “lady detectives” can become withdrawn, friendless, and sit rather on top of the worlds they inhabit. Though I love Jacqueline Winspear’s books, Maisie Dobbs is just a little too calm, cool and collected. And even though I want to be Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher, she is most definitely perfectly perfect.But Anna overthought finding a new friend. Her struggles with the memories of her dead husband seemed human, not maudlin. She doesn’t always know how to go about questioning people obliquely. She cares about her job in a way that’s relatable.Barr’s side characters were also well done in terms of the kinds of people you’d find in a national park setting, and in terms of being well fleshed out suspects and suspicious characters. To be honest, one of my favourite characters was Gideon the horse. Barr really captures the way horses behave, and the beleaguered they can sometimes act when they're feeling overworked. Anyway, this book doesn’t have the best characters I’ve ever read, but they’re perfectly serviceable, and Anna’s multifacets and flaws were more than enough to keep me entertained.And Anna’s love for the landscape really comes out. My provincial park was a prairie park, and like the desert, it’s not a space that people immediately think of when they think of natural beauty. Anna’s (and Barr’s) love of the desert and the mountains pervades her writing, and she crafted vivid, sensual landscapes. Last spring, I drove through west Texas and New Mexico, and I’m now really regretting that I wasn’t able to stop and spend some time there.I also thought the pacing and foreshadowing was well done. I thought Barr did an excellent job of providing me with enough clues that I could follow along with Anna’s deductions, and was generally right behind her in figuring things out, although there were one or two times when I wanted to tell Anna, “That’s a Clue! A Clue! Stop and look at it!” If you always solve the mystery before the end of the book, you might get there too fast, but I certainly didn’t.Finally, the ending was tense and totally unexpected. I read a lot of mysteries, and I was very surprised at the way things played out. In a good way!This book sets up a formula for things to come. Every book is set in a different national park, and I can see how these books will follow a definite pattern. So, as a lover of long running mystery series, I’m really looking forward to experiencing more of these books.A note on the audiobook version: Barbara Rosenblatt narrates this book, and she truly is the Meryl Streep of audio narration. Her performance, as always gets five stars from me.

McKittrick Canyon - Pratt Cabin and Grotto Trail★★★★½ (This is a review of the audiobook.) I truly enjoyed the start of the Anna Pigeon series! I will definitely be continuing on with the rest of the books, especially when I see that they are narrated by the talented Barbara Rosenblat. I’ve heard her in countless audiobooks; however, in this one, like the Aisling Grey: Guardian series, she sounds completely different. Granted, she doesn’t have the international accents that she has in that series, but she does a wonderful job of the different southern dialects found in this mystery novel.This was a good “who-done-it,” too. There are not a ton of suspects, but I think this is a good thing, as the handful there are are all pretty solid and kept me guessing. I can see why this won the 1994 Anthony Award for Best First Novel. For the most part, each book in the series takes place in a different National Park. In Track of the Cat the setting was Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas. The park was not just wallpaper, but became part of the story; from the mountains dotted with ponderosa pines, to the horned lizards or western diamondback rattlers along the limestone trails, to Gideon - a big chocolate colored quarter horse who dozes while Anna talks to him because he’s walked the path so many times. And then there’s the cougar with kittens that Anna believes has been framed in the death of a co-worker. Cougar CubI was surprised some of the reviewers did not like the protagonist Anna, the widowed Law Enforcement Ranger with flaws. But to each his own. I liked her and look forward to reading more of her sleuthing endeavors. I especially enjoyed the dialogue between Anna and her older New York City psychiatrist sister, Molly, her shoulder to cry on. “When I told Mother and Dad I wanted a playmate, I was hinting for a kitten,” Molly said. “I like being an only child. Do you here this?” There was a shushing sound, then Molly’s voice again. “That was me pouring myself a medicinal scotch and soda. You have till I finish it to fill in the rest of the story. Then I’m going to bed. Ready? Go!”I just loved it. Certainly a GoodRead - or listen!El Capitan - Guadalupe Mountains National ParkImages taken from, respectively:http://www.virtualtourist.comhttp://balancedecology.org
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Lisa (Harmonybites)
From the start something irked me about the lead character, Anna Pigeon, park ranger. I think it was the hints from the beginning of a disconnect between her and people, her yearning to be solitary. This is the first in a series featuring her, so I think wanting to spend time with the character, either because she's fascinatingly complex or quirky or likable is important. The author was deft and seemingly knowledgeable about the milleu she was writing about, the West Texas wilderness. I've read Barr was herself a Park Ranger and I can believe it. The description puts you right there among the scrabble and saw-edged plants. Pigeon is making rounds in Guadalopue Mountains National Park trying to detect scat of the rare mountain lion. Then she finds the body of a fellow park ranger, Shelia Drury. And when she examines the body and finds evidence this young woman, her colleague, was mauled by a cougar, her first reaction is to damn the dead woman for being killed since it will undoubtedly result in more of the animals being hunted down and killed. Right there, on page 16, the author lost me. I guess I'm not the Sierra Club type--people who put the deaths of animals over people they know leave me cold, cold, cold. After that I just could not care about Anna Pigeon or spend another page with her.
Emily Crow
Track of the Cat is the first of a mystery series set in national parks and featuring law enforcement ranger Anna Pigeon. When a fellow ranger is found dead, apparently mauled by a cougar, she takes the investigation into her own hands, feeling that the cat has been framed.The setting was superb, describing the Texas landscape so well that I could picture it perfectly. The story itself was pretty good, although a little far-fetched. Unfortunately, I just didn't care for the protagonist that much, and I wasn't sure why. Like me, she is an outdoorsy type, a bit of a loner, and has a contrary nature, so I should have loved her. But she came across as being awfully cold, to the point where I felt like she was using the people around her.This was actually my second stab at this series; a few years ago I read Hard Truth, a more recent title, which I found off-putting because of the story itself (religious whack jobs and rape-no thanks!), and Track of the Cat actually improved my opinion of the series a bit. I will probably give it one more try, especially since the book after this one takes place in Michigan.
I would have given this book five stars, but I thought the ending was simply too abrupt. Without knowing what Anna does the next day, we really can't know Anna's ultimate value system. (This may sound cryptic, but I don't want to spoil the ending.) With that caveat, this is a wonderful book. Anna Pigeon is an interesting character, a strong woman who has experienced loss in her past but is doing more than simply coping with it. The author surrounds her with characters that we all can recognize. Because of the physical environment--a national park in the desert--there is life-and-death suspense for reasons beyond the plot, but there is also a great deal of beauty. In terms of plot, most readers will probably figure out the how of the first murder long before Anna does, and they may even suspect what one character reports as 'aliens' in the park. It is much more difficult to put everything together, although all the clues are present. Most of us will wait with Anna for the final resolution.
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