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by Nevada Barr
Minotaur Books, April 2014
368 pages
ISBN: 0312614586

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Jumping into DESTROYER ANGEL indeed felt like jumping. The landing, at first, was soft as I recognized the wonderful writing that envelops the reader in the setting and, since I'd read all the previous Anna Pigeon books, it felt a bit like coming home. That soft landing, however, was in the midst of a treacherous world. Barr often starts her books with a bang, and this one was no exception. What was very different in DESTROYER ANGEL was that the intense danger with which the book opened never let up.

Anna, two of her girlfriends, and their two daughters are on a camping trip in the wilds of Minnesota. As Anna gets away from it all on a solo canoe trip, the remaining four women are kidnapped and started on a long and painful trek out of the woods. The women tell their city-wise but woods-foolish captors that Anna had cancelled at the last minute, which sets the stage for Anna to follow the group (along with the dog, Wiley, the kidnappers thought they had killed), attempting to kill the men and save the women.

Throughout the book, Anna finds herself reverting to a feral nature that emerges from somewhere deep inside her. She spends her time alone with Wiley thinking about this un-human side of herself, and there is an interesting interplay between the thoughtless manner in which the kidnappers harm their captives and the deeply reflective manner in which Anna harms the kidnappers. Anna and Wiley bond, and they are able to weaken the kidnappers through imitating the wolves the city thugs are so afraid of.

If a reader has not read previous books in the Anna Pigeon series, this would not be the one with which to pick up the series. Anna's pedigree as a park ranger is nonexistent in DESTROYER ANGEL, no National Park is in evidence, her relationships and the balanced nature of the other books are missing, and Anna's relationship to the law is turned on its head. The only way to understand what the dire circumstances in this book do to Anna is to have read at least some of the previous books in the series. However, the book stands alone as a fast- paced thriller, but I'm afraid that reading it from that perspective does not do justice to the full scope of Nevada Barr's talent.

Sharon Mensing is the Head of School of Emerald Mountain School, an independent school in the mountains of Colorado, where she lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, March 2014

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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