Thursday, July 16, 2009

Borderline by Nevada Barr

Title: Borderline
Author: Nevada Barr
ISBN: 9780399155697, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2009
Genre: Police Procedural, #15 Anna Pigeon mystery
Rating: C

First Line: Wailing cut through the perfect darkness.

Sometimes it doesn't pay to let a few days go by before I write a review. When I finished this book and wrote the details down in my book journal, I rated it a B. Now that
Borderline is fully digested, I changed the B to a C. This hurts because this is one of my favorite mystery series, and Anna feels like an old buddy of mine.

In this book, Anna is still trying to recuperate from all the horrendous doings up at Isle Royale in
Winter Study. Diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, she's basically told to take a vacation. The good thing about this is that she's able to take her vacation with her husband, Sheriff Paul Davidson. This is good for both Anna and the readers of this series because Davidson is a good guy and an interesting character but gets precious little "air time".

The two of them decide to go on a rafting trip down the Rio Grande and through Big Bend National Park in Texas. Big Bend has had its share of troubles post- 9/11 since it's right on the border. The Rio Grande is running high and strong due to storm run-off, and the raft Anna's group is on is swamped. While trying to recover supplies from the swift water, a young, very pregnant Hispanic woman is found caught in a snag. Anna can't save the young woman, but she does manage to save the baby before shots start being fired and members of the rafting party start dying. Anna and Paul have to get everyone-- including a newborn baby-- to safety. With young people along, it's not easy:

The twins were resilient but Lori and Chrissie had not been taught to face adversity. They were products of the Barney generation where everybody always wins, trophies are given all around regardless of which team wins and playground insults are dealt with by the courts. They had been trained to passivity and entitlement, skills that were useless in the present situation. Had they also been trained to obedience it would have helped, but in Barney's world everyone was a leader, regardless of ability.

Now comes the part where I have to explain why I downgraded this book. The book was schizophrenic. The first part was excellent. The young people in the rafting party all came to life, and having Anna in charge of a baby and teenagers was a stroke of genius. The suspense was first-rate; I had no idea how many of them would make it out of the canyon, and I kept wondering who was taking shots at them.

Once they were out of the canyon and effectively rescued, it almost felt as though I'd started reading an entirely different book. Anna's observations of the dead Hispanic woman coupled with the Texan politicos on the scene made it all too easy for me to figure out whodunit. Me...the person who never sets out to solve the mystery!

This is a must-read for anyone who's a Nevada Barr fan. The first part of the book is just too strong, and being able to see Anna interact with a baby and young people is something not to be missed. Just don't expect it to be one of the strongest books in the series. Of course...this is my opinion only, and your mileage may definitely vary. If you've read the book and really enjoyed it, please leave a comment and tell me. I always want to hear differing viewpoints!


  1. I re-read my post on the book and found I guessed the culprit too. Guess it was too obvious, but I enjoyed the first part of the ride down the river. Here's my review:

  2. I'm a bit behind in this series (I think I have two books to go). I'm sorry that this one wasn't as strong as the others. I still love Anna and I'll be reading along.

  3. I read only one book by her and I did enjoy so even though I wouldn't call myself her fan yet there's a potential for it. I will skip this one though so that I don't get disouraged. Maybe I'll put it off for later.

  4. Harvee--Thanks for giving me the link to your review!

    Beth--You and I have too much invested in Anna to give up at one slightly uneven book!

    Lilly--I think if I'd read this one at the beginning, I would have been discouraged. But since it's #15, Anna and I are friends, and I don't give up so easily! :)


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