Burn: An Anna Pidgeon Novel takes Nevada Barr’s popular national park ranger away from her comfortably familiar nature preserve to the streets of New Orleans. If you’re a fan of the Anna Pidgeon series, you’ll realize just how much of a fish out of water this makes her. As Anna says, she is accustomed to dealing with wild animals, not wild people. That makes the Big Easy in a post-Katrina world the perfect setting to throw her off kilter.
“The sweetness and cruelty of the Deep South allowed the inherent insanity of the human condition to flower in ways it didn’t exist elsewhere. Artists, musicians, writers, alcoholics – creativity and excess and genius and decay found a home beneath the heavy branches of trees older than most American cities.”
Not only is she away from everything she finds comfortable but she’s also away from her new husband. When Burn opens, Anna is still getting used to the idea of not being 100% independent. She is supposed to be on an enforced vacation; however, I don’t think she has a clue how to handle free time. Coupled with that is the fact of how she ended up on vacation; she suffered a trauma in a prior adventure (novel) that has left her mentally and physically vulnerable. That vulnerability adds to her feeling that she is not on top of her game.
Anna decides to stay in an apartment owned by her blind musician friend, Genevieve. Genevieve has inherited property that includes several apartments inside of a quiet, gated courtyard, the perfect retreat in which Anna can recover. But she arrives to find that one of those apartments is rented by Jordan, who immediately sets off all of Anna’s alarm bells. Genevieve is oblivious to any potential danger Jordan might represent and thinks Anna is being foolish.
Afraid for Genevieve’s safety and unsure what to do with herself in this strange environment, Anna decides to learn more about Jordan. As she gets drawn into Jordan’s story, she begins to learn about the seamy underside of New Orleans – more than she ever wanted to know. She is pulled into circumstances that cause her to confront her values as a human being and to question the need to do what’s required as a law enforcement park ranger.
Disclaimer: Some of the subject matter involves sex workers, including child prostitution, and immigrant slavery so parts of it may be difficult for you to read; however, keep in mind that these things do exist. Turning the other way and not reading about its existence won’t stop it from existing. I believe these subjects are handled truthfully but sensitively; however, I have to provide a disclaimer since this is not the first time I have read about these subjects. You may react very differently if you’ve never been exposed to this kind of information.
“Bourbon Street, New Orleans, a historically sinful tourist destination, reminded her of the carnival that Pinocchio was lured to, a dark place of noise and light and lurid shadows where bad little boys turned into animals.”
Unlike a lot of series, I think you can read Burn and then decide if you want to go back to the first book, Track of the Cat (published in 1993), and read the entire award winning series. Burn is very dissimilar from the other books in the Anna Pidgeon series in that it contains a lot of juxtaposition in the beginning, it is set in a city instead of a national park, and it deals with more highly sensitive subject matter.
Anna Pidgeon is one of the strongest, most empowered and independent long-running female characters out there – one I deeply admire. I was thrilled when I found this series back in the early 90’s and have sent up many grateful thank you’s through the universe to Nevada Barr because the series came into my life when books featuring strong, independent women were not easy to find.
That Nevada Barr uses her own experiences as a national park ranger to lend depth to her bestselling books makes them fascinating reads. I look forward to each new book with great anticipation and they never disappoint!
I’d love to hear comments from other people who have read Burn.
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