Park ranger Anna Pigeon, the fortyish heroine of Barr's popular series, is back, tracking grizzlies through the unforgiving landscape of Glacier National Park as part of a scientific investigation that's outlined with more detail than anyone who's not totally fascinated by these awesome animals will care about. In fact, the description of what actually goes into the lures set to attract the bears so they can be tagged and counted is guaranteed to rumble the strongest stomach--but that's just the back story in this newest Pigeon adventure. When the mutilated body of the stepmother of one of the bear trackers turns up in a remote corner of the park, and it becomes clear that she met death at the hands of a human rather than the claws of a grizzly, Anna goes on the hunt for the killer.
Barr's strength is in depicting the natural surroundings in which her heroine finds inspiration, solace, and comfort, and she limns the gorgeous landscape of Glacier with consummate skill. But her plotting leaves much to be desired, and when she finally reveals the killer's identity, motivation, and especially his accomplice, the discriminating reader may be tempted to throw this book at the nearest teddy bear. The trick ending is too much to stomach, unless you're a grizzly who'll eat (almost) anything. Up to that point, however, there's much to appeal to Barr's fans: another beautifully drawn portrait of a piece of America's vanishing wilderness and a few hours in the company of an appealingly cranky heroine whose appreciation of it knows no bounds. --Jane Adams [via]