Park Rangers

Unless otherwise noted, summaries on this page are quoted from

Ault, Sandi. Wild Sorrow, 2009.
Wild Mystery series, #3.

Tracking a wounded mountain lion, Jamaica comes across an old Indian School, where children were ‘Americanized’ after being taken from their homes. As a snowstorm sweeps the canyon, Jamaica must take refuge in the abandoned school.

Exploring, Jamaica discovers the desecrated body of an elderly Anglo woman, frozen on the floor. This discovery, combined with the troubled history of the abandoned school, haunts Jamaica throughout the night with the howling wind.

When the FBI takes over the murder investigation she continues searching for the wounded she-lion and her cubs. As the dead of winter settles, arctic temperatures threaten the survival of the mountain lions – and Jamaica herself, as she is stalked by an unidentified killer.

Barr, Nevada. Track of the Cat, 1993.
Anna Pigeon series, #1.

Fleeing New York to find refuge as a ranger in the remote backcountry of West Texas, Anna Pigeon stumbles into a web of violence and murder when fellow park ranger Sheila Drury is mysteriously killed and another ranger vanishes.

Barr, Nevada.  Ill Wind (aka Mountain of Bones), 1995.
Anna Pigeon series, #3.

Anna Pigeon, a park ranger at Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park, is a woman on the mend. She’s a widow, she’s battling alcohol dependence, and she’s recently changed jobs. Despite her pain, she reaches tentatively toward Stacey Meyer, a ranger trainee who has also endured his share of middle-aged pain. Shortly after he mishandles a crisis that results in a child’s death, Stacey himself is found dead. Suicide? Anna thinks it unlikely. Murder? Possibly, but who and why? When the husband of another park employee is killed in a suspicious car wreck, the case takes on broader implications. Through it all, Anna struggles with her middle-aged angst, her alcoholism, and her loneliness, drawing support from long-distance calls to her sister, who serves the functions of both a Dr. Watson and a voice on the other end of a crisis hot-line.
summary from Booklist Online

Barr, Nevada. Blind Descent, 1998.
Anna Pigeon series, #6.

Forced to cope with her claustrophobia and to use all the skills she has developed above ground, park ranger Anna Pigeon enters the dangerous Lechuguilla Cavern in New Mexico’s Carlsbad Cavern National Park to attempt a rescue and learns who she can trust and who can be saved.

Barr, Nevada. Flashback,   2003.
Anna Pigeon series, #11.

To give herself time to sort out her feelings, after an unexpected proposal of marriage from her sheriff/priest boyfriend, Anna takes a short-term post as supervisory ranger on Garden Key, in Dry Tortugas National Park. This remote series of islands in the Florida Keys offers visitors beautiful scenery combined with fascinating history. Garden Key itself is the site of Fort Jefferson, where the conspirators in the Lincoln assassination were held along with Confederate prisoners of war. The crumbling fortress holds special significance for Anna, whose several-times-great-aunt Raffia lived at the fort when her husband was posted there…especially after Anna’s sister sends her a packet of letters Raffia wrote there after the Civil War. When not fantasizing about that long-ago time, Anna splits her attention between dealing with work, scuba diving, and wondering what really happened to the previous ranger (rumored to have gone crazy after his girlfriend left him). Then strange things begin to happen. The assistant ranger is lost at sea, a small craft blows up, and the bodies of the crew prove impossible to identify…and Anna, hardheaded, rational Anna, finds herself adrift in visions involving Raffia and one of the men accused of conspiring to kill President Lincoln. As Anna struggles to untangle herself from deadly puzzles, past and present, she uncovers a modern conspiracy that could end in a devastating bloodbath. summary from Barnes and Noble Review, by Sue Stone.

Barr, Nevada. Winter Study, 2008.

Anna Pigeon series, #8.

Soon after Anna Pigeon joins the famed wolf study team of Isle Royale National Park in the middle of Lake Superior, the wolf packs begin to behave in peculiar ways. Giant wolf prints are found, and Anna spies the form of a great wolf from a surveillance plane. When a female member of the team is savaged, Anna is convinced they are being stalked, and what was once a beautiful, idyllic refuge becomes a place of unnatural occurrences and danger beyond the ordinary… summary from

Barr, Nevada. The Rope, 2012.
Anna Pigeon series, #17.

In The Rope, the latest in Nevada Barr’s bestselling novels featuring Anna Pigeon, Nevada Barr gathers together the many strings of Anna’s past and finally reveals the story that her many fans have been long asking for. In 1995 and 35 years old, fresh off the bus from New York City and nursing a broken heart, Anna Pigeon takes a decidedly unglamorous job as a seasonal employee of the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area. On her day off, Anna goes hiking into the park never to return. Her co-workers think she’s simply moved on – her cabin is cleaned out and her things gone. But Anna herself wakes up, trapped at the bottom of a dry natural well, naked, without supplies and no clear memory of how she found herself in this situation.

As she slowly pieces together her memory, it soon becomes clear that someone has trapped her there, in an inescapable prison, and no one knows that she is even missing. Plunged into a landscape and a plot she is unfit and untrained to handle, Anna Pigeon must muster the courage, determination and will to live that she didn’t even know she still possessed to survive, outwit and triumph.


Box, CJ. Breaking Point,  2014.
Joe Pickett series, #13.

It was always good to see Butch Roberson, Joe thought – a hard-working, upright local business owner whose daughter was friends with his own. Little did he know that when he talked to Butch that day, the man was about to disappear. He was heading into the mountains to hunt, he said, but instead he was running. Two EPA employees had just been murdered, and all signs pointed to him as the killer.

As the manhunt organized itself, Joe heard more of the story – about the tract of land Butch and his wife had bought to build their retirement home on, until the EPA declared it a wetland. About the penalties they charged him when he balked, new ones piling up every day, until the family was torn apart by debt . . . and finally, it seems, the man just cracked.

It was an awful story. But was it the whole story? The more Joe looks into it, the more he begins to wonder – and the more he finds himself in the middle of a war he never expected and never wanted. Powerful forces want Butch not just caught, but dead . . . and the same goes for anyone who stands in their way.

Box, CJ. Open Season,  2001.
Joe Pickett series, #1.

C.J. Box makes the town of Twelve Sleep, Wyoming (where Joe and his pregnant wife and his daughters have come to live in a tiny house that could be a lot nicer if Joe only had a job that paid better), come alive to the extent that one can almost smell the crisp mountain air and pine needles. The locals display an impressive array of grudge holding and “don’t mess with us” attitudes, but Joe is unwilling to forget he’s sworn to uphold and enforce a full battery of laws that many of these neighbors have no intention of obeying.

When a well-known poacher, with whom he has humiliatingly tangled, suddenly turns up dead in his own backyard, Joe finds himself at the top of a downward path that, first, will lead to more bodies and then will put his entire family into peril.

Graham, Scott. Canyon Sacrifice, 2014.
National Park series, #1.

A family trip to the Grand Canyon goes scary when one of the young daughters is abducted from their campsite. It turns out the mother’s ex-husband is irrationally jealous of her new spouse, Chuck Bender. An archeologist in his 40s who specializes in Anasazi artifacts, Chuck is admittedly in over his head. Nonetheless, he wants to step up and be a real dad to his new stepdaughters. Miguel, the ex-husband, has orchestrated Carmelita’s kidnapping, and Chuck is the bait. Unfortunately, other players enter during a delicate moment of negotiation, and a park ranger is shot dead. Chuck is guilt ridden by this turn of events and tensions build. summary from Library Journal Reviews

Heywood, Joseph. Ice Hunter, 2001.
Woods Cop series, #1.

Grady Service gets news that his nemesis, the head of an incestuous clan of poachers, is to be released from prison. But something even more sinister is afoot in the Mosquito Wilderness. Service must call upon his every reserve to track, stalk, and capture the “ice hunter.”summary from

Stabenow, Dana. A Cold Day For Murder, 1992.
Kate Shugak series, #1.

When a young national park ranger disappears during the long Alaskan winter, everyone assumes the cold got him. But when an investigator goes in after him and fails to return, Kate Shugak suspects it’s more than the weather. With her Husky-breed, Mutt, as an ally, she goes hunting for answers among the pipeliners, Aleuts, and marginal eccentrics of the rugged American North. What she finds is thin ice between lies and loyalties…between justice served and the bare face of cold-blooded murder.


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