Anna and Sheriff Paul Davidson are married only three days before Anna moves from Mississippi to Colorado. Her mettle is immediately tested as the new district ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park. Three young girls have gone missing, and when only two return a month later, wearing filthy undergarments and bearing deep psychological scars, the signs point to a mysterious religious organization that guards its secrets closely. As a palpable sense of evil casts its shadow over the park, Anna puts her life on the line to discover the truth behind the disappearances.
©2005 Nevada Barr; (P)2005 Recorded Books, LLC
"Noted for her precise plotting and atmospheric descriptions of nature, Barr again proves her skill in putting believable characters in peril against a backdrop of breathtaking scenery." (Publishers Weekly)
I'm a prosecuting attorney in New Mexico, with a love of the outdoors. I started checking out the Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr by serendipity because of my moderately long commute back-and-forth (an hour each way), and my boss urging me to get into audio books. Nevada Barr rocks! She gets the crime elements right, has done a wonderful job of characterization in each novel (so far I've "read" four unabridged in the series), and the narrator, Ms. Rosenblatt, is to be commended for the depth and breadth of her voice. I can hardly wait for the next in the series, even though I was nearly poisoned by the adrenaline coursing through my system during the last three to four hours of this one!
I have been an avid fan of Nevada Barr since I picked up the first Anna Pigeon book. I enjoyed listening as I sewed or worked around the house, always posting on the wall a map of the area of the book's setting so I could follow along with Anna's travels. However, as the series progressed, there seemed to be an inordinate increase in the amount of gratuitous vulgarity and violence. For me, it culminated with Hard Truth. Sitting on a plane, I finally got so disgusted I tore off my headphones and snarled out loud (startling the ConAgra executive next to me), "Just shoot the [expletive deleted] and get it over with!" and never did finish listening to the book. The narration was, as always, superb, Barr's writing style, as always, faultless with exception of that seemingly needless dragging out of the story toward the end. It was just a shame that the aforementioned flaws of violence and vulgarity have caused me to drop Barr as one of my favorite authors. If these matters are not of concern to the reader, then Hard Truth is as sterling a read(or listen, as the case may be) as the previous Anna Pigeon books.
While I enjoyed this latest in the increasingly harrowing adventures of Anna Pigeon I felt that the quality of the audio recording was a bit lacking. Having listened to this on halfway decent headphones I was quite often distracted from the storyline by the breathy, wet noises that accompanied the reading as if the microphone was mere centimeters from the reader's lips. This was a first for me in a long history of listening to audiobooks and it was a bit disconcerting. While I recommend this book to faithful Nevada Barr followers, I encourage those of you with decent headphones to listen to it in the car where the distracting noises may be drowned out by engine noise.
Ah, but I do love a truly diabolical villian. Nevada Barr is at the top of her game with this book, set this time in Rocky Mountain National Park. Anna, as usual, takes a licking but solves the mystery and brings the villian to justice. The writing was top notch with believable dialogue and well drawn characters. And, also as usual, the author kept me guessing the identity of the villian until Anna figured it out. My love for Anna Pigeon continues and the book gets 5 stars.
The reader, on the other hand, was overblown and regularly ignored cues from the author as to how dialogue should be delivered. Ms. Rosenblat read with an embellishment more suited to a group of school children than an adult audience of one. Nevada Barr is such a talented writer she needs no such embellishment. The villian was described as taking on several affects, but the reader made little or no distinction within the character. A sentence described by the author as if each word were a distinct and separate sentence was delivered as conversationally as any other. Phrases described as harsh or pointed or snappy were everything but. And I agree with another reviewer that mouth noises, as well pronounced intakes of breath, were very annoying. I've read this entire series in hard copy until now; I'll probably go back to hard copy going forward.
Again, I let stupid reviews keep me from getting this for too long. I was worried this was a complete change for Barr with graphic child violence. Its not graphic, certainly much less than what you can get on regular TV. The writing is superb, this is one of her best!
Nevada Barr is a favorite, for sure. I race to read each new release! Both Barr and Ranger Pigeon have grown over the dozen or so books in the series, and it has been a pleasure to watch. The descriptions in Hard Truth took me right to the park, where I could almost smell the pine and feel the rain. This is the first audio Barr I've done. There's a profound difference between reading description and hearing it. Barr is transporting! I do miss following along with the maps that are usually in the front of the books, but maps of ROMO are readily available on the 'net.
This is a disturbing book, what with the abuse of children and animals, and the evil of a cult. But it's a good read, and more than once kept me in the car in the driveway to hear "just a few minutes more."
This was a great book. I am a fan of the series, but some of Nevada Barr's books are better than others. This was one of the really good ones. Compelling mystery, interesting characters, thoroughly enjoyable.
I've been a big fan of Nevada Barr for years. Maybe it was because I have worked for the National Park Service, maybe it was because I enjoyed the stories. With this book, though, Ms. Barr has stepped over the line of a good tale and a compelling mystery, to a place I don't want to visit. The brutality, gore, child abuse and detailed death was unnecessary to the thread of the story. Frankly, it was far more than I want to expose myself to. A mystery is interesting and can capture me. This book disgusted me and left me feeling like I had just read the newspaper headlines or watched a "action" film. Too bad this was the last of my experiences reading about Anna. I'm going to miss her.
Please understand -- I love Nevada Barr's books: I am mesmerized by the descriptions of the National Parks to which she is sent; I am fascinated by the characters she creates -- usually very timely and timeless; I identify with the difficulties her (and my) aging costs.
For a first time reader I think her books would be fascinating, illuminating, exciting and a multitude of other "ing"s. But I've read them all. At this point I'm almost ready for a description of Anna's and Paul's honeymoon someplace very unexciting. After all Anna Pigeon's near-death experiences I wonder what part of her body remains scarless; how she retains the energy to go to yet another National Park to await further indigities to her body and soul; when does she get the time to speak to her sister to have her explain the latest weirdness of the moment.
Applause for the insight into the "handicapped"ed psyche's, the publicity for the "handicamp", of which many might not have been aware, the emphasis on the importance of helper dogs such as "Wylie", and the damange that can be done by well-meaning god-fearing souls.
I couldn't stop listening, but I'm a fan and not that discerning a listener.
One of Barr's best! Intricate and suspenseful plot. Grabs you at the start and keeps you guessing til the end. Highly recommended.
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