ffb: Ill Wind by Nevada Barr

this is the 158th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Ill Wind by Nevada Barr, Avon Books, 1995 – paperback, mystery – 3rd Anna Pigeon

“No Graveyards; that bothered Anna. People died. Unless you ate them, burned them or mailed them to a friend, the bodies had to go somewhere.”

Ill WindAnna Pigeon works for the National Parks Service, and is transferred from one location to another every so often. In Ill Wind, Anna has left Lake Superior and returned to the southwest, where the first book in the series was set. This time instead of Texas she is in Colorado at Mesa Verde with it’s Anasazi cliff dwellings. There’s some furor about the ditch a construction company is digging across part of the park, those who would like running water very much in favor, those who feel disturbing the soil of the ancient dwelling area bitterly against.

Of more concern to Anna are the carry-outs that are occurring with regularity. Children with asthma and elderly visitors are overcome by the dust and altitude and have to be carried out by rangers or fire crew. When one of these children dies unexpectedly, concern grows. A second death, this time of a ranger Anna was close to, and then an attack on Anna during late night patrol increase concern and draw the reader into considering possible theories, suspects and motivations.

Barr is good at creating twists and surprise villains. Though I figured out “who dunnit” halfway through the book, although the motive escaped me until nearer the end. As a matter of fact, if I have a problem with this book at all it’s the weak support Barr gives the motive, as if she thought up the rest of the story and then when she got to the point where she had to come up with the reason she used the first thing that came to mind. Maybe there were pointers that I missed. Whatever, I’m not convinced the villain would have done what was done, but that’s okay, I enjoyed watching Anna in action anyway.

Also making an appearance in this book is Fredrick Stanton, the FBI agent who Anna worked with, not always happily, in the previous book Superior Death. He’s a character I like so I was glad to see him here. In spite of my qualms qith the motive in this one, I like the Anna Pigeon and these books – especially Superior Death – and I’m still taking one off the shelf now and then. If this is a series that you missed, you might give it a try. The varying location of each book is a real plus, the Pigeon character is solidly written and likable and Barr only gets better as the series continues.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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13 Responses to ffb: Ill Wind by Nevada Barr

  1. I heard the interview with Nevada Barr during the BOUCHERCON in Milwaukee a few years ago. I enjoyed her early books but haven’t read Barr’s latest mysteries.

  2. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Barr is another of those authors I always think I should enjoy but I don’t. I read the first in the series and it – and Pigeon – left me cold. I’ve had no urge to try another.

  3. I read this one. Pretty intense.

  4. Richard says:

    George, I’m also way behind on the series. I read the first 6 or 8, then got away from them. But I liked most of them, and would read another.

  5. Richard says:

    Jeff, some of them are better than others, and the amount of side story about the daughter and Pigeon’s romance issues detract from the mystery aspect. I really liked Superior Death and there were others that were quite good. I admit the settings draw me in.

  6. Richard says:

    Charles, there are some parts of this one that got me on the edge of the chair, as the expression goes.

  7. tracybham says:

    This is an author I haven’t read yet and I do want to start at the beginning. I do have the first one, and this review of the 3rd one sounds good. Hopefully this will give me the push I need.

  8. Richard says:

    Tracy, it’s a pretty interesting series, and the shift in setting with each book adds a lot.

  9. Richard, I didn’t know about Nevada Barr and her impressive output under the Anna Pigeon series. It’s interesting that the series is set in national parks. I suppose there must be some activism in her plots.

  10. Richard says:

    Prashant, some, but not a lot. There’s no heavy handed nature-first, industry vilification. These are mostly concerned with the death and solving the crime, though there are some cases where destruction of habitat is blamed on lack of conservation and bad politics.

  11. Must admit, I’m not exactly convinced that this would do it for me – is there a better place to start in the series for newbies like myself?

  12. Richard says:

    I’s say the second book, Superior Death is as good a place as any.

  13. Roberta says:


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