Hard Truth

By Nevada Barr

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005

Genre: Mystery

Series: Anna Pigeon mysteries; 13

ISBN: 0399152415

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 324

Setting: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Time period: early 2000’s

Plot summary: In Rocky Mountain National Park, three girls disappeared during a church retreat at Fern Lake.  Weeks later, Heath Jarrod, a climber turned paraplegic finds two of the girls one night lost in the woods at the campground at Sprague Lake.  The girls are clothed in nothing but their underwear and are covered in mud, blood, and grime.  They are also terrified, but cannot tell anyone where they have been.  This is the situation in which Ranger Anna Pigeon becomes entangled her first night on call in her new position at Rocky.  One girl is still missing, and the chances that she is still alive grow smaller each day.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: The story maintains a quick pace throughout its entirety.

Characterization: Told in third person; there are two main points of view – Anna’s and Heath’s.

Frame: The beauty and wonder of Rocky Mountain National Park is dimmed somewhat by the dark events which occur in the story.

Story line: A thrilling tale with many twists, surprises, and interesting characters who must repeatedly face their fears to not only survive, but grow stronger.

Subject headings:

From PCPL:

Pigeon, Anna (Fictitious character) — Fiction

Rocky Mountain National Park (Colo.) — Fiction

Women park rangers — Fiction

Colorado — Fiction

Mystery fiction

Similar authors: (From NoveList) Lise Mcclendon, Karen Kijewski, Dana Stabenow, Deborah Crombie, Marcia Muller, Taffy Cannon, Jessica Speart, Sue Grafton

Personal notes: Charlotte recommended this series to me and I’m glad she did.  From looking at reviews, it seems like this is one of the darker Anna Pigeon books.  It definitely had some disturbing scenes, but I didn’t find the story to be scary. [Annotated 5/26/09]

Other (themes, diversity): Diversity – Female park rangers, paraplegics, religious cult followers and leaders

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