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Literature / Anna Pigeon

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Anna Pigeon is the main character in a series of books by Nevada Barr. She is a law enforcement ranger for the United States National Park Service. The themes of the books are about murders that are committed in the national parks and are often due to issues with natural resources. Each novel in the series is based in a different National Park in the USA.

The books in the Anna Pigeon series (and the parks they are set in) are:

  1. Track of the Cat (Guadalupe Mountains National Park)
  2. A Superior Death (Isle Royale National Park)
  3. Ill Wind (Mesa Verde National Park)
  4. Firestorm (Lassen Volcanic National Park)
  5. Endangered Species (Cumberland Island National Seashore)
  6. Blind Descent (Carlsbad Caverns National Park)
  7. Liberty Descending (Statue of Liberty National Monument)
  8. Deep South (Natchez Trace Parkway)
  9. Blood Lure (Glacier National Park)
  10. Hunting Season (Natchez Trace Parkway)
  11. Flashback (Dry Tortugas National Park)
  12. High Country (Yosemite National Park)
  13. Hard Truth (Rocky Mountain National Park)
  14. Winter Study (Isle Royale National Park)
  15. Borderline (Big Bend National Park)
  16. Burn (New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park)
  17. The Rope (Glen Canyon National Recreation Area)
  18. Destroyer Angel (Superior National Forest)
  19. Boar Island (Acadia National Park)

Tropes in Anna Pigeon novels include:

  • Brother–Sister Incest: A Superior Death includes a consensual brother-sister couple who have had themselves sterilised so there will be no children. Anna pities them more than condemning them.
  • Bunker Woman: In The Rope, Anna is imprisoned for a portion of the novel at the bottom of a natural pit in one of the canyons. This being Anna, she manages to escape.
  • Closed Circle: In Firestorm, Anna is working with a fire crew during a wildfire. The crew is caught in a firestorm and retreat into their personal shelters. After the firestorm passes, one of the crew is found stabbed to death inside his shelter, meaning the killer has to have been one of those present when the firestorm hit. Then a rampaging winter storm descends, cutting the survivors off from civilization.
  • Curse of The Ancients: In Blind Descent, Anna complains about wanting to swear but being too uncomfortable to do so in a group of people she does not know well. One of the other rangers introduces her to the joys of what he calls 'cowboy swearing'; letting loose yells of things like "Goddang it!" or "Consarn it!". Anna tries it and finds it a great way of letting out frustration.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: Destroyer Angel is "Die Hard in a National Forest". Anna is on a camping trip with some friends. While she is floating alone in a canoe on the river at night, a gang of kidnappers abduct the others. When Anna finds out what has happened, she pursues the gang through the forest with almost no equipment.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In Destroyer Angel, Reg - one of a gang of kidnappers - refuses to kill a crippled dog when his boss orders him to, arguing that it's not right. The Dude points out that as he has already expressed his willingness to kill a paraplegic woman and a teenaged girl, this seems to show a somewhat skewed sense of morality. Reg is also disgusted by Sean's sexual interest in underage girls.
  • Firefighting Episode: In Firestorm, a raging forest fire in California's Lassen Volcanic National Park traps exhausted firefighters, including Ranger Anna Pigeon who is working as an EMT with the firefighters, in its midst. Afterward, Anna finds two from her group have been killed. One a victim of the flames. The other, stabbed through the heart. Now, as a rampaging winter storm descends, cutting the survivors off from civilization, Anna must uncover the murderer in their midst.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: In Destroyer Angel, Anna and her friends do this with the dude's body to lure 'Mr Big' into an ambush; propping it up against one wall of a building and having one of the girls manipulate his arm so he seems to gesture 'Mr Big' to come to him, so 'Mr Big' will leave the safety of his plane.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: In Liberty Falling, Anna uncovers a plot by a rightwing anti-government movement to destroy the Statue of Liberty.
  • River of Insanity: A small scale version happens to the crooks in Destroyer Angel. After they lose their map, their trek through the forest with their hostages to the rendezvous point takes days longer than it should, as none of them have any survival or navigation skills. They start to fall prey to paranoia and infighting, which is exacerbated by Anna who is following them and playing mind games to keep them off-balance.
  • Show Some Leg: In Destroyer Angel, Heath has herself tied topless to a tree; the plan being that her exposed breasts will distract the kidnapper long enough for Anna to jump him and knock him out.
  • Skewed Priorities: Overlaps with Even Evil Has Standards in Destroyer Angel. Reg refuses to kill a crippled dog because it would be wrong, despite displaying willingness to murder a paraplegic woman and a teenage girl.
  • Strange Cop in a Strange Land: Anna is a law enforcement park ranger whose usually works in the wilds of various large national parks. In Liberty Falling, she visits New York City and ends up solving a crime while staying on the ranger accommodation on Liberty Island.
  • This Bear Was Framed: In Track of the Cat, the first murder is made to appear to be the work of a mountain lion.
  • War Reenactors: In Deep South, Anna's investigation into a girl's disappearance is severely complicated and hampered by the large-scale American Civil War reenactment that is going on in the park. Anna finds herself getting a crash course in the world of war re-enactors.