I love Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon series. Maybe I’m so drawn to them because I spent a good portion of my childhood touring national parks with my family in a motorhome. I’ve actually read at least two of her books while camping in the park featured in the book (Mesa Verde and Rocky Mountain National Park), and that is the perfect recipe for a creepy mystery read.
Her series features Anna Pigeon, a National Park Ranger, and her adventures in different national parks. One of the great advantages of this series is that while previous books are referenced at times, they are not summarized in each new novel (like Nancy Drew, for instance) and nor is it necessary to read them in order, though it will have its advantages. That having been said, this book might be the exception to the latter statement, as in Borderline, Anna is suffering from PTSD because of her experiences in Winter Study, and some people might be curious about this fact if they’re not familiar with the previous book.
Borderline is based in Big Bend, the only national park in the gigantic state of Texas, which might give you a clue about its landscape. My brother once sent me a postcard while stationed in San Antonio that only read: “I’ve discovered why Texans do not care about the environment; it’s because they don’t have one.” Having just moved out of Texas, I can attest to this statement. While parts of Texas are pretty, there’s not much interest from many Texans in preserving the environment, especially not the bit around them, which is there to be conquered. Oh, and to drill for oil.
All this having been said, I’ve not actually seen Big Bend, though I would have liked to, and that is because Texas is HUGE and it was really far away from Austin. But Anna and her husband Paul make their way to the park to go on a rafting trip down the river at the same time that the mayor of Houston is in the park to announce her candidacy for governor. Gunshots are fired, a nearly drowned pregnant woman is found floating in the river, and a sketchy park ranger who wants the Mexico/U.S. border reopened all come into play, along with a pretty sad cow.
The book is a quick read on its own, and a quicker one because of all the action. Overall, I found it a satisfying read, and as an Anna Pigeon fan, I was intrigued to see her relate to a child. I will say it didn’t seem to have as much character depth as Winter Study- which incidentally, scared all that is holy out of me- but I wasn’t upset by this, as the focus on the action really seemed to fit this park and plot. At the end of the book, I was relieved that Anna was still around and seemed to have regained some of her pluckiness. With the kind of people she’s bound to meet next, she’ll be needing it.