Hard Truth by Nevada Barr

 

Mystery

Hard truth Hard TruthNevada Barr; G.P. Putnam’s Sons 2005WorldCatAnna Pigeon has been promoted in the National Park Services and has transferred from Mississippi to Yosemite. That makes things difficult for her new marriage. She and Paul were married three days before she took the new job. He was just re-elected sheriff. So for now, they are living apart.

Heath Jarrod is a former climber. An accident a year or so earlier has confined her permanently to a wheel chair, paralyzed from the waist down. She is still arguing with fate as she “hikes” around the campground portion of Yosemite that has been designated for the disabled. Two young girls stumble out the woods almost into her lap. They have been missing around a month. They can’t remember anything that has happened to them in the past month. Heath finds something to take her mind off herself.

Anna starts her new job with those young girls. The third girl who disappeared with them is still out there in the forest somewhere. Things get stranger. Anna finds crucified mice behind some of the rangers’ cabins. The youth counselor who was with the girls when they first disappeared leaves the town where they had lived. He attacks Anna, leaving her down a cliff. Then he disappears.

Heath and her aunt move their RV from the disabled campground to one closer to the community where the girls live. Heath is concerned and bonded with the younger girl. She wants to help, or at least keep an eye for them. Something is odd in the Mormon-type community. Before the mystery is solved, both Anna and Heath are in danger of losing their lives.

Hard Truth is an average mystery with good characters. In one of my past lives I worked around rehabilitating disabled people. Heath’s thoughts and actions feel very real, from the feelings of injustice, self-pity, and the feelings of pride and self-reliance as she turns the corner from being turned inward to once again becoming involved in the outward world. Anna is softer in this novel – and surprises herself because of it. That doesn’t diminish her power when she confronts the murderer. Instead, we (and she) learn more about the complex ranger we have followed in this series.

While Hard Truth is definitely a part of the National Parks mystery series, it stands on its own as well. Anna’s life is expanded again, but it is not integral to the mystery, only to the ongoing character in all the novels. She does not detract from the mystery itself. Nevada Barr uses the different National Parks as characters as much as she does the people. It’s hard to describe the majesty of our parks, but Barr doesn’t do a bad job at all. Enjoy.

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

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