"Does that waitress who just took our order look familiar?"
"Well, maybe --- looks kind of like a park security ranger I had a run-in with. Annie something?"
"Nah, couldn't be. What would she be doing, hopping tables at Yosemite?"
Had this conversation actually taken place in Nevada Barr's latest Anna Pigeon mystery, HIGH COUNTRY, Anna's cover would have been blown. For there she is --- starched uniform, crisp black apron and order pad, schlepping dinner trays and donating her tips to the Mountain Security Fund, while trying to discover what has happened to four seasonal park workers who vanished without a trace.
Is it foul play, or a climbing accident in the High Sierra wilderness? Did these part-time workers just take off, or are they injured or possibly dead somewhere in some of the most rugged back country in America's National Park system?
Anna meets one of her most deadly encounters with human nature and mother nature as she slowly pieces together fragments of these four young people's lives to ferret out the truth behind their mysterious disappearance. She and the only two superiors at Yosemite who know who she is suspect that drugs are involved. She befriends the former roommates of one of the missing waitresses as she tries to become part of the close-knit community of Yosemite Village. Anyone could be involved, from the assistant ranger to the chef to the head waitress or one of the busboys, and she needs to find out soon where the trail leads to locating the missing four.
Anna discovers the source of the drugs, but the smuggler remains elusive. She embarks on a deadly hunt through freezing temperatures and fire, climaxing with a midnight cat and mouse pursuit that is perhaps the greatest challenge to her life.
Nevada Barr masterfully evokes the sights, sounds and majestic beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in this, her twelfth mystery featuring the courageous National Parks officer. For the first time, Anna cannot rely on her uniform, badge or gun to bring the criminals to justice. Armed only with her years of experience in crime solving and ability to read people, she takes on some of the most sadistic and insidious killers in her career.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on February 5, 2004