Track of the Cat

By Nevada Barr

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, c1993

Genre: Mystery

Series: Anna Pigeon mysteries; 1

ISBN: 9780425190838

Intended audience: Adults

Number of pages: 263

Setting: Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas & nearby New Mexico

Time period: early 1990s

Plot summary: When Anna Pigeon finds the remains of a co-worker/ park ranger in a lonely canyon while on backcountry patrol, she documents the evidence as she was trained to do.  Unfortunately, the evidence seems to suggest that the ranger’s death was caused by a mountain lion.  As the park service and neighboring ranchers prepare for a lion hunt, however, Anna find disturbing evidence which suggests that a lion was framed for the ranger’s death, who was really killed by a human.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: Barr blends description, dialog, and action in a way that keeps the pages turning and maintains a steady pace throughout the book.

Characterization: Told in third person from Anna’s perspective.  The most important secondary character is Anna’s sister, Molly, a shrink in NYC.  It is through their conversations that readers’ come to understand Anna better.

Frame: The remote and isolated location of Guadalupe Mountains National Park is essential to the frame of the story.  The park is beautiful, but harsh in its unforgiving nature.

Story line: A puzzling story with plenty of twists and surprises as well as beautiful descriptions of wilderness and landscapes.  While some elements of the story may seem a bit simplistic, it is a very well-crafted work.

Subject headings:

From PCPL:

Pigeon, Anna (Fictitious character) — Fiction.

Women park rangers — Texas — Fiction.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Tex.) — 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: I loved the ending to this book!

Other (themes, diversity):

Diversity – female park ranger, lesbians

This book won both the Agatha Award (1993) and the Anthony Award (1994) for best first novel.


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