Flashback by Nevada Barr


Where in the world is Anna Pigeon?  Dry Tortugas National Park, of course.  The Supervisory Ranger, Lanny Wilcox, is on a leave of absence, seemingly having a breakdown after his girlfriend left without a word.  Anna has relationship woes of her own — Sheriff Paul Davidson has proposed marriage and she needs time and space to consider his offer.  Accepting a temporary assignment on an island seventy miles off of Key West while she gathers her thoughts seems like a good idea — right up to the point she’s almost killed investigating a mysterious boat explosion and starts hallucinating soon afterwards.

Barr gives readers a rare gift: two well-crafted stories in one.  In the present, Anna looks for answers to strange events which may or may not be related to the boat explosion.  She also looks for connections between what happened to Lanny and what’s happening to her.  In the past,  a series of letters reveals that strange events also took place on the island when Anna’s great-great-aunt Raffia lived here with her husband. During the Civil War, the park was Fort Jefferson.  Fort Jefferson served as a Union prison and its most notorious inmates included Dr. Samuel Mudd and the Lincoln conspirators.

I loved both mysteries but as they alternated chapters, I confess that I sometimes found myself flipping ahead to see what happened next in Raffia’s storyline — there were some scary moments!  The only thing that seemed amiss was that Molly didn’t follow up with Anna in the present-day storyline — I know Anna’s cut off from the mainland by miles of water, poor phone service, and sketchy radio contact but knowing what Anna was experiencing, I find it hard to believe that her sister didn’t find a way to check on her.  In fact, given all of those factors, I find it hard to believe that Molly didn’t show up on Anna’s doorstep.

All in all though, another excellent Anna Pigeon novel!  At number 11 in the series, I’m impressed that Barr can still keep me on the edge of my seat.


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