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Reader Participation Day: Do You Read Nevada Barr's National Park-Based Anna Pigeon Mysteries?


Many writers have used national parks as settings for novels, but none have managed to do it more successfully or more durably than Nevada Barr. The books in her Anna Pigeon Mysteries series have consistently made the best seller lists, won prestigious awards, created a large base of fans who eagerly await her next book, and established Barr as the premier writer of national park-focused novels.

If you've read any of the 17 books in the Anna Pigeon Mysteries series, please take a few moments to share your thoughts. 

Tell us about anything that's relevant.  Which books in the Anna Pigeon Mysteries series have your read? Do you believe that Barr's descriptions of park physical and cultural resources are reasonably accurate?  Have you ever visited a park because you read about it in a Nevada Barr novel?  Would reading a Nevada Barr novel set in a particular park be a good thing to do before visiting that park?  How much do you think the characters inhabiting Barr's novels resemble the real-life rangers, superintendents, concessioners, and others who work in, manage, and protect our national parks?


Just finished The Rope, and once again I was "roped" in hook, line and sinker! I vascilate between reading the mystery and looking the park up on line and doing all I can to "see" where she is in the park....My dream retirement job is be a raanger at Yellowstone.....a few more years and then, here I come! Also have found Box and Bowen to be great reads. But there is only one Anna for life!

Yellowstone National Park has not provided the setting for a book in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, Meg. The list at this site has the relevant park information.

I enjoyed the first few, but they got a bit gory for me.
I always did wonder why she never set one in Yellowstone, though. Or has she and I just don't know about it?

The one set in Glacier was Not Good.  It turned bear management policy on its head (allowing people to continue to camp in the same area of the backcountry- even in the same backcountry campground- where a night-time bear attack had occurred) in order to make the plot "work."  There were a number of geographical convolutions that had to be gotten by in order for things to make sense, although I thought of that more like how a movie uses different locations for its purposes that may not make sense to people who really know the area.  But the bear management stuff upset me most-- I was so ANGRY at the characters who flouted good bear policy in order for the mystery to work out. 
I enjoy the novels for the snarky thoughts about NPS uniforms, seasonal life, etc., which are usually pretty accurate.  I don't find the mysteries themselves very intriguing, usually.  They're too often direct rip-offs of actual Park incidents.  That said, I keep reading!   

Rick B. - If you like Barr and Stabenow you will likely enjoy John Straley.

The book set in Mesa Verde National Park is Ill Wind. A complete list of the Anna Pigeon series books, with related parks indicated, will be found at this site.

A visitor recommended Barr's books while I was a Park Ranger at Oregon Caves NM so the first one I read was "Blind Descent"  where I learned a lot about caving and the NPS.  When I was hired to work at Mesa Verde I read the book based from there, sorry can't remember the name now, and again learned a lot specifically about the park.  I think Barr does a great job of representing the parks and the rangers. 
Visitors often tell me I look like Anna Pigeon.  Has there ever been a picture of Anna, I think not.

I've read all but the most  recent and really love them, both for the parks
and for the stories.  I've yet to visit a park after reading the book but
look forward to doing so (e.g., esp. Natchez Trace and Rocky Mountain).  I did
find the Carlsbad Caverns volume too claustrophobic for my comfort.

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