27 January 2013

Track of the Cat (Anna Pigeon, No. 1)


Synopsis: The memory of violence and loss drove Anna Pigeon from the city to seek peace in the Southwestern wilderness. Now a ranger in America's national parks, Anna is at one with nature and its serene, unspoiled majesty. But the brutal death of a fellow ranger in the remote West Texas backcountry – presumably by mountain lion attack – looks suspiciously like murder to Anna. And her unauthorized investigation into the tragedy is placing her squarely in harm's way. For a trail with few leads winds through dangerous territory – where Anna must confront the dark side of the desert...and the human heart.

First line: There hadn't been a god for many years.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Avon Books, 1994; received from a member of BookCrossing.

My thoughts: A bit of a departure from what I normally read, and a gripping and interesting one at that. Anna Pigeon is a ranger at a national park nestled at the base of the Guadalupe mountains in Texas. While camping out one night, Anna stumbles across the body of a fellow ranger who appears to have been killed by a mountain lion. The death is ruled accidental, but to Anna it looks suspicious, and she begins covertly investigating the possibility that the ranger was murdered.

Most of the book is set in the park, and as someone who's never been hiking or camping (other than Girl Scout camps), it was an interesting peek into an unknown world. Anna is a fairly solitary, complicated character, still mourning the loss of her husband and just trying to live day by day. As she is drawn further and further into her investigation, we are drawn further and further into her life.

The mystery was well crafted, and the perpetrator stayed hidden from me until the very end. And there was a very tense chapter in the middle that had me almost holding my breath in fear for Anna, despite the fact that I know this is the first in a series so obviously she is not going to die. The writing is crisp and clever, and now I'm going to have to start hunting down the rest of the books in this series.

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