Review

Burn: An Anna Pigeon Novel

by Nevada Barr

Nevada Barr’s meticulously crafted suspense novels have
evolved into first-rate thrillers, and BURN is yet another
edge-of-the-seat page turner. Dousing the lights and going to sleep
is not an option.

Anna Pigeon, on administrative leave after a mentally trying
year in her job as a National Park Ranger, plans to meet her
husband Paul in New Orleans for two weeks of R&R. Paul is tying
up some loose ends but will join her in a few days, so Anna plans
to stay with an old Park Service friend, Geneva, a singer in the
New Orleans Jazz Historical Park. On her way to meet Geneva, she
has an encounter with a filthy, emaciated punk when she rescues his
dog, who has been kicked by a fleeing mugger. Later that evening,
she discovers that the man she thought was a street punk is named
Jordan and is renting a back room in Geneva’s house.

When Jordan leaves a dead pigeon near Anna’s door,
ceremoniously wound in a cloth covered in strange markings, Anna
believes it is meant for her. She copies the markings and begins a
search through the shops on nearby Dumaine Street, home of voodoo,
fortune tellers and magicians that date back centuries in New
Orleans history. As she learns more about Jordan, something seems
off, and a connection develops between him and a woman by the name
of Clare Sullivan, a missing murder suspect on the run from
Seattle, accused of killing her husband and two small children.

Anna finds herself ensnared in one of the most dangerous events
in her long history of facing down the worst that nature and man
can throw at her. Except that this time, there is nothing natural
about the threat that looms --- it is all manmade and comes from
evil of the worst sort. Her adversaries are involved in
international smuggling of human cargo --- small children destined
for a brothel in the darkest corners of New Orleans. Anna tracks
Jordan to a strip joint where he tends bar and is believed by the
strippers to be a pedophile. She cannot rely on the local police
for help, because she learns from the strippers that not only the
Chief of Police but also many of New Orleans’ most prominent
citizens are deeply and dangerously involved.

Nevada Barr has consistently delivered engrossing tales of
harrowing adventures in the country’s national parks. Her
early novels, which showed up on bestseller lists almost from the
beginning, spun stories of natural disasters and human reactions,
often amusing or surprising, sometimes heroic or dastardly, but
always skillfully told to underscore the inner workings of the
human mind under stress. These popular tales arose out of her own
experience and stories from fellow rangers about the forces of
nature and humankind. Park rangers of every stripe lap up her books
because of their true-to-life depictions of the National Park
Service and the strong sense of place of America’s
magnificent parks.

In previous novels, fans have been vicariously captured along
with Anna as she is trapped deep underground in a black, narrow
passage of a New Mexico cave. We have felt the sub-zero chill of
racing through a blizzard in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,
fleeing a maniacal killer. We’ve been trapped underwater in
Lake Superior. We’ve survived forest fires and avalanches in
western states, inches from death as Barr miraculously rescues our
heroine and we turn pages until the wee hours of the morning.

In BURN, as Anna closes in on the brothel, her very life, her
future as a park ranger and wife to her new husband are so
threatened by her actions that we are left to wonder what’s
next for her. Get ready to smell and hear and feel the sounds and
dangers in the dark underbelly of post-Katrina New Orleans as only
Nevada Barr can portray them.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on December 23, 2010

Burn: An Anna Pigeon Novel
by Nevada Barr

  • Publication Date: August 3, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 031261456X
  • ISBN-13: 9780312614560