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Nevada Barr?

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Nevada Barr?

Postby balzaccom » Thu Dec 24, 2009 9:32 am

OK, I love the idea of these books---a series of lightweight mysteries, written by an ex-ranger, all taking place in National Parks. Great idea!

But I have now read three of them, and I don't think I'll read any more. The Yosemite one, in particular, was disappointing. And they seem to follow a bit of a formula, where her heroine, Anna Pidgeon, has to fight for her life against a great big mean criminal every time. Lots of pain and blood, too. Not one of these books got me excited about visiting the park in question...

In comparison, I've read Tony Hillerman's Skeleton Man, much of which takes place in the Grand Canyon. And I am already researching how and when to visit. Much better writer, much better books.

Anyone want to argue with that? Or set me straight about Nevada Barr? Is there something I am missing?

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Re: Nevada Barr?

Postby gdurkee » Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:43 am

I think you're right on both counts. Barr is more than occasionally a very good writer (often lyrical paragraphs), but after about 3 books, they start feeling pretty formulaic, as you say. If any ranger got into that many fights over the years, they'd be sent back to the Training Center. On her Yosemite book, I couldn't believe the number of serious tactical mistakes she made. If memory serves, she doesn't tell anyone where she's going; goes alone; and then her radio fails! I'd fire her... . Of course, she had to make the mistakes, I guess, or there's not the assorted dramatic recovery from certain doom, but still... .

That said, I still mostly enjoy her books though they make me cringe occasionally. Her portraits of internal NPS supervisors and employees is often spot on -- from the safety of her book contract and, now, retirement.

And you're absolutely right about Hillerman. Consistently great and doesn't rely on a train wreck to create tension and drama. Consistently good and solid writing.

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Re: Nevada Barr?

Postby oldranger » Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:57 am

What George said!

I can't not read Barr's stuff but jeez is anna an idiot sometimes. Of course she does get promoted so she is a good example of the Peter Principle. Reminds me of the two district rangers on detail as fire monitors in Sugarloaf Valley in 1985. Returned to their camp one afternoon to find that it had been burnt over! or .... I and George could go on and on. But what always bothers me is that I come away depressed after reading her novels.

Hillerman, on the other hand, even though his novels can be dark, too, does't do that to me. I do like his earlier Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee novels better than the later ones. The later novels seem to lose focus on the culture conflicts that were so interesting in the earlier ones.


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Re: Nevada Barr?

Postby BSquared » Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:48 pm

...Also Nevada's villains seem to be getting creepier and creepier. The last one I read (I think it was the Rocky Mountain NPS one) had a complete sociopath as the villain -- kidnapped and isolated young teenage girls to train them in crime and, uh, other things -- and I gave up after that. Just a little too edgy for my taste.
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Re: Nevada Barr?

Postby dave54 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:16 pm

Takes too many liberties with geography and features. I know they are needed for the plot, but if you are familiar with the area it detracts from the story.
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Re: Nevada Barr?

Postby ripen » Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:44 pm

What's wrong with u people. Slow down and get in the story. Hillerman's good but Barr aint second
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Re: Nevada Barr?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Nov 08, 2013 2:25 pm

Years ago I bought one of her books at the ranger station at Mineral King, to read on a trip. I thought it was really a stupid book. Started OK but went quickly downhill. I read a second one just to see if it was a fluke. No fluke, another stupid story. Inaccurate, sensationalized, with ending that looks like a publisher was on her to produce by a deadline. Real let down. Murder mysteries set in a national park are not my cup of tea.
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