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book reveiw: 'flashback'...

Monday, August 15, 2016
...by Nevada Barr. This one of the series is set in the Gulf of Mexico. They are about Anna Pigeon, a ranger for the National Park Service (which, by the way is having a 100th birthday this year. Get out! Go visit one of our beautiful scenic parks!) Part of what makes reading the Barr books so enjoyable is the knowledge that she has a wealth of personal experience to draw from as she writes her narratives.

This is not a new book, copyright was at least ten years ago, but one of a series following this same character. Anna has been posted all over the country in a number of different geographic areas. She has been to the Great Lakes, cold water diving on a sunken wreck. Rafting on the Rio at Big Bend in Texas. On the Georgia coast at Cumberland Island. In the New York Harbor at Ellis Island.On the Natchez Trace in Mississippi. And now, in 'flashback' at Fort Jefferson on isolated Garden Key, beyond Key West, FL.

Pigeon is a fictitious character, so fallible and believable you find yourself identifying with her. She is so willing to admit to quirks, idiosyncrasies, anxieties, foibles you find yourself convinced she is human. It just seems like she accidentally finds herself in the wrong place as the wrong time... an unwitting party to murder and mayhem. She is a smart, resourceful ranger, knowledgeable and capable, though often outweighed/outnumbered  by the bad guys.

In an effort to encourage you to want to get involved, help her with all those 'hot messes' she finds herself in, here is a teaser: this one involves smuggling, but it is not drugs. 'Flashback' starts with a 'go-fast' boat, like those long sleek cigarette-type high-powered one they use for racing, that accidentally blows up, leaving shreds of body parts on the pristine reefs and white sandy bottom of the clear Gulf waters. And a sunken boat that held a NPS staffer who is injured, goes missing.

The 'flashback' part is a series of letters Anna's sister sends her at her duty station, written by a long dead relative, who was the wife of the commander of Fort Jefferson when it held Civil War POWs. A story within a story, leading the reader into seeing life as it was when the fort was in active use as a part of the national defense system. Uncovering criminal activity in the present day also leads Anna to solving a hundred year old mystery.

Well written, drawing you into the scene, with beautiful descriptions of amazing places available for all of us to go and visit. The stories offer much detail, providing clear images of the locations where the rangers live and work. It is obvious that Barr as an author has done the legwork, interviews and research to make her characters come to life. I'm putting Ft. Jefferson on my bucket list.

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