Sunday, October 23, 2011

Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr ****

Set in the desert of southwest New Mexico and western Texas, near Carlsbad Caverns (where the book was purchased), Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr opens as Anna Pidgeon, National Park Service (NPS) ranger, discovers the corpse of another NPS ranger, apparently killed by a mountain lion. While the NPS, the FBI, and local law enforcement all accept this at face value, Anna finds many of the details suspicious.

First, the corpse was found in the midst of an area of saw grass, yet the corpse was free of scratches. Even more suspicious, the experienced ranger had packed for hiking in the back country, but didn't pack any water. This sets the tone for the story that follows. Anna is a careful observer of life in the desert. This is a murder where the clues are delivered by the unique environment of the southwestern desert: climate, terrain, flora and fauna, making this book as much an enjoyable excursion into the desert as a whodunit.

The only flaw (certainly unavoidable and forgivable) is the obsolete technological plots points from 1993. This includes the limited pictures on a roll of film and the delays required for them to be developed. Also the challenges of finding a public telephone.

Overall a fine nature book and western yarn.

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