Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat
Series: Anna Pidgeon #19
Published by MacMillan Audio on May 17, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Length: 12 hours, 18 minutes
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Anna Pigeon, in her career as a National Park Service Ranger, has had to deal with all manner of crimes and misdemeanors, but cyber-bullying and stalking is a new one. The target is Elizabeth, the adopted teenage daughter of her friend Heath Jarrod. Elizabeth is driven to despair by the disgusting rumors spreading online and bullying texts. Until, one day, Heath finds her daughter Elizabeth in the midst of an unsuccessful suicide attempt. And then she calls in the cavalry---her aunt Gwen and her friend Anna Pigeon.
While they try to deal with the fragile state of affairs---and find the person behind the harassment---the three adults decide the best thing to do is to remove Elizabeth from the situation. Since Anna is about to start her new post as Acting Chief Ranger at Acadia National Park in Maine, the three will join her and stay at a house on the cliff of a small island near the park, Boar Island.
But the move east doesn't solve the problem. The stalker has followed them east. And Heath (a paraplegic) and Elizabeth aren't alone on the otherwise deserted island. At the same time, Anna has barely arrived at Acadia before a brutal murder is committed by a killer uncomfortably close to her.
I am still not over my desire for thrillers written with the great outdoors as the backdrop. After I finished my review for last month, I was forced to find another series to feed this obsession. There are a few that sparked my interest, but none more than the Anna Pigeon novels written by Nevada Barr. Instead of a male game warden, the hero of this series is a female National Park Service Ranger. Boar Island is the 19th book in the series, and finds Anna in Acadia National Park on temporary assignment. Rather than trying to survive the elements and bad guys in the wilderness, Boar Island has Anna battling a cyber-bully on a private island in the US’s easternmost National Park. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean she is exempt from near-death experiences!
I love Nevada Barr’s writing style, her attention to detail, and how every single story seems to be unique in its mystery and setting. Watching Anna Pigeon evolve has been an adventure in itself. Anna is now firmly middle-aged, married, and much more comfortable in her skin than ever before. She’s still small and fierce, but there is a definite maturity to her character that I can appreciate. I feel that she was not as much the heroine of Boar Island, but rather a supporting character. The title role/roles must go to the re-occurring characters of Heath and Elizabeth.
Heath and Elizabeth are fantastic, complex individuals and I was interested in seeing how they have developed and changed (especially after their experiences in prior books). I think Nevada Barr should create a spinoff series just for them! While I still enjoyed the mystery of Boar Island and how the author details an average person’s descent into madness, but I missed Anna and her particular brand of resourcefulness and practical knack for survival.
One of my favorite things about these books is the collateral knowledge I’ve collected about the National Parks. Barr herself was a NPS Ranger, and she’s parlayed the experience into her writing. I’ve added about 17 new parks to my ‘must visit’ list. I’d hope to learn much more about Acadia National Park, but unfortunately, like Anna herself, the setting seemed incidental to this particular story.
Boar Island is a complex thriller with an interesting twist. While it might not be the best representation of the Anna Pigeon series, I enjoyed the story and seeing several returning characters. As far as I can tell, there is not a 20th installment in the works, so I can only hope that Nevada Barr takes pity on her fans and sends Anna on another assignment soon.
Barbara Rosenblat is a fantastic narrator. After 18 books, she is pretty much the voice of Anna Pigeon and I think her calm, subtle style suits the character’s practicality and dry sense of humor perfectly. Her diction, pacing, and expression were exactly what they should be and while I don’t know much about Maine accents, I liked her attempts. I listened comfortably at 1.25x speed.
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