Bored with patrolling the Natchez Trace Parkway, District Ranger Anna Pigeon gets herself reassigned to Montana's Glacier National Park to help take a census of the park's grizzly bear population. There, she expects to take long off-trail hikes and set new traps with a foul-smelling brew that entices grizzlies to roll around in it, leaving bits of hair containing their DNA.
But readers familiar with any of the previous eight books in Barr's entertaining national park mystery series–which includes Deep South and Liberty Falling–know that Anna rarely finds tranquility in God's country. On her second night out, Anna's tent is mauled (while she's in it) by a huge bear thought to exist only in Alaska, and the next day the body of a woman, knifed and hideously mutilated, is discovered in a small clearing. Anna can handle violence in nature, but when humans are the cause of it, she gets cranky. Throughout this fast-paced thriller, as Anna relentlessly tracks down the murderer and the mysterious bear, readers can take pleasure in Barr's descriptions of the natural setting and the working lives of park rangers. Her fans can only be grateful that there are still plenty of national parks left for Anna Pigeon to visit. (Putnam, $24.95)