four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
35-July-Aug-2008
By: 
Nevada Barr
user_rating: 
0

A-Winter StudyNevada Barr, a former park ranger and the award-winning creator of the Anna Pigeon mysteries (Track of the Cat, Hard Truth, High Country), sets each novel in a different national park. In her 14th mystery in the series, Barr explores Isle Royale National Park, off Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The Story: Earlier in her career, Park Ranger Anna Pigeon spent a summer stationed in Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. Her winter tour of duty proves to be altogether different—bitterly cold and isolating, with only a handful of wolf researchers taking part in a 50-year wolf study and scientists dispatched by Homeland Security to halt the study and evaluate border security. Anna, intending to learn about wolf management, soon notices that besides the bizarre human dynamics, the wolves are acting strangely and infringing upon human territory. Then a pack of wolves tears apart a member of the research team, and Anna starts fearing for her life.
Putnam. 384 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0399154582

Cleveland Plain Dealer 4 of 5 Stars
"This mystery is a true page-turner, with one breathless scene snowplowing into the next. I defy readers to stop once they reach the novel’s last 70 pages." Michele Ross

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"This is Barr’s first book in three years, and she seems to have been saving up all the special effects. The blizzards, the dangerous ice and the manhunts through the frozen woods are described with crisp, hard-edged beauty. And the wolves, those maligned ‘ogres of childhood,’ are magnificent." Marilyn Stasio

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"One might label this book Hound of the Baskervilles meets And Then There Were None meets a Michael Crichton novel, and the narrative itself references works ranging from ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ to The Shining. But this is a Nevada Barr book through and through, with its careful examination of how humans interact with the natural world, its infectious fascination with nature in general and those dense, resonant descriptions." Art Taylor

Critical Summary

Barr brings to bear on Winter Study her usual graceful exploration of the interactions between people and nature—in Isle Royale, a stark winter environment with ice storms, dormant forests, and stalker wolves. Although Anna shares some strange bedfellows (including the Homeland Security staff), perhaps the central inhabitant of this frozen landscape and novel is the wolf, which Barr uses as a metaphor for human mistrust, chicanery, and evil. Readers averse to descriptions of wolf migration patterns may find Winter Study a little slow going, but Barr’s novel isn’t a conventional whodunit (a body appears only halfway through the book). And when it does, Winter Study is as gripping as the best of them.

First in the Series

Track of the Cat (1993): After the accidental death of her husband, Anna Pigeon leaves New York City for work as a park ranger at Guadaloupe Mountains National Park. When the body of another ranger at the park is found, the death is blamed on mountain lions. Anna suspects otherwise.