Deep South by Nevada Barr

 

MysteryRomance

Deep South Deep SouthNevada Barr; Berkley Books 2000WorldCatAnna Pigeon has been promoted to district park ranger. She has left the Southwest and Mesa Verde to work at the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi. She has never been to that part of the country before. Most of her knowledge of the state comes from the scenes she remembers from the 1960’s. There she learns they still have the “old boy network”, few women in law enforcement, deep fried everything, racial discord, reenactors in Civil War uniforms and rangers who are trying to stay until their retirement in a few years. Anna arrives with her rangers against her before she steps in the door.

The first night she is in her new home, at the beck and call of the campers in the national park, she is awoken by campers who complain about the cars full of screaming revelers in the campground. By the time she arrives they are gone. She knows that it will be impossible for her to catch the teens who caused the disturbance. Still, she decides to look around. At the old church at one edge of the narrow park she discovers a teen age girl who is passed out drunk. Anna takes her back to her home and lets her sleep it off.

They call the girl’s parents and Heather is picked up the next morning. A while later the local sheriff, Paul Davidson, arrives on her doorstep looking for a missing girl. Anna starts to reassure the handsome sheriff until she realizes he is looking for a different person. After he leaves she calls in her unwilling rangers and they start searching the narrow park. Anna is the person who discovers the body hanging from a tree with a sheet over head, mock KKK style. This is not a promising start to her new position.

You do not have to have read all the preceding books in the series to appreciate Deep South. Barr shows Mississippi in current day, still fighting and embracing the images from the not too distant past. The book treats the situation of resentful rangers under the new, and first, woman district ranger for their area in a deft manner. One officer seems over the edge, but there are people who are that pigheaded and resentful. This mystery may have some of the clues, but it is not one that the reader should try to solve until close to the end. The murder has too many suspects with too many possible motives.

As usual the writing is good. In one scene Anna is attacked from behind and blinded by a sheet. I couldn’t help but wince as she was being beaten and her method of getting free. The giddy school girl feelings she discovers she has for Paul add to her character. Many of us who are over 40 think we are past that stage, but hope it could still happen. The park itself comes to life as Barr describes the lushness of the area, especially compared to the arid Southwest.

Anna Pigeon series at Stop! You’re Killing Me!
More books by Nevada Barr

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