Endangered Species by Nevada Barr

As the fifth Anna Pigeon mystery begins, Anna’s playing midwife to a weary but determined loggerhead turtle in the waters of Georgia’s Cumberland Island National Seashore.  As cool as this is, looking after the endangered turtles is only a side job—Anna is officially at the park as part of the fire crew.  It’s the dry season, a dangerous time, and crews patrol the area on the lookout for wildfires.

The smell of smoke leads Anna and her partner to the wreckage of a burning airplane.  Clues at the scene lead Anna to suspect sabotage, and, as usual, there’s no shortage of suspects among the people with whom she’s sharing close quarters.  True to character, Anna starts looking for answers and continues regardless of physical attack, property vandalism and a couple of skin-crawling episodes.  While she’s trying solve the Cumberland mystery, Anna asks her long-distance love, Frederick Stanton, to look into the death threats her sister Molly has been receiving.

Barr continues to create wonderfully suspicious characters.  Flicka doesn’t fall into that category but I have to say that I absolutely adore the fawn—for me, this was on par with the secret valley revealed in Track of the Cat .  Barr also continues to create vivid settings—the descriptions of the abandoned, once-luxurious homes dotting the island were haunting.  Barr even treats the reader to bits of  humor in surprising places (am I wrong to have laughed out loud about the frog?).

The Frederick/Molly storyline felt a bit out of place to me, mostly because we really haven’t had a chance to truly see Anna & Frederick in a relationship yet—to me, it felt like we missed a step.  There was a bit of mutual interest in the earlier books, there was build-up in Firestorm—and then there was this.  I was also a bit disappointed with the conclusion to the death threat mystery but only a bit.

Anna Pigeon remains one of my favorite fictional characters, even if she makes me feel like a wimp.  Looking forward to Blind Descent!

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