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Thursday, November 8, 2007


Yesterday I mentioned reading The Hard Way by Lee Child. On the same overseas trip I also read Hard Truth by Nevada Barr. It was just a coincidence. Or was it?? I also brought in my suitcase Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich. What would Freud say!?! [I didn't read the Evanovich book because, it turns out, I had read it before. No, I didn't have my list with me on my rush trip to the library, see my Oct 13 post.]

Hard Truth stars Anna Pigeon in her 13th adventure as a park ranger and sleuth. I enjoyed the story and characters, but occasionally the writing was annoying. There were paragraphs when it was hard to determine who was doing or saying what. Admittedly, when there are more than two characters in a scene, this is a difficult challenge for a writer; yet one that must be overcome to keep the reading smooth. Also, Barr uses a vocabulary that exceeds that of any other modern mystery writer I've read. I wish I had written down a few of these "big" words while reading through because I can't remember them now and I don't feel like reading the book again to look for them. I just remember how distracting and unnecessary it felt at the time.

The story takes place at Rocky Mountain National Park. I have visited there some years back, so it was fun reading from that point of view.

The book actually has two leading characters, and alternates point of view between Anna and Heath Jarrod, a wheelchair-bound woman who was recently paralyzed in a climbing accident. Barr does a marvelous and convincing job with Heath; actually, Heath could easily be a great character for a second series of books.

The plot had some well done red herrings. Is it the rigid cult leader? The cult youth leader? The park ranger who has lied about her ties to the charismatic youth leader? The last 100 pages was a continuous build-up in suspense.

I still like V I Warshawski as my all time favorite female sleuth, along with Carlotta Carlyle. Of course there's Nina Reilly- I'm a sucker for the legal thriller. As for Anna Pigeon? She's.... ok, maybe even more than ok. But maybe not exactly my cup of tea. I might read another, but... might be just the thing for another visit to a National Park. My wife and I and some best friends recently visited here. Does it make you think of a good story line?

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