By Nevada Barr

Avon, 1997
ISBN: 0-380-72582-7 $6.50

Setting: Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Reviewed by: J.L. Buck

Fire was the deadliest problem on park ranger Anna Pidgeon's mind. For a week she had been helping crews fighting the Jackknife Fire. Finally they were pulling back, when Anna and several other crew members were trapped in a firestorm caused by the quickly changing weather and swirling winds in Lassen Volcanic National Park. With the fire almost upon them, the crew took shelter under individual metallic blankets until the storm had passed. Afterward, all crew members were quickly accounted for, except one. When they found Leonard Nims' shelter, everyone immediately knew his fate - his shelter was too still - but no one expected to see a knife in his back.

Anna was in charge of security for the group. That made this her problem. Then the snow and bitter cold came, isolating the crew from rescue. Anna was on her own. The only allies she could trust were her brief contacts with base on a phone whose battery was quickly dying, and her own wits. She didn't dare trust her crewmates - a killer was among them.

Barr has written a fast paced, intriguing, and modern spin-off of the classic "puzzle" whodunit. From the beginning we know the victim, the murder weapon, the time of death, and a closed group of suspects. As Anna investigates, the reader is free to compete with her in analyzing the clues and solving the crime. Add to this Ms. Barr's talent in setting a scene, and you have a mystery well worth a trip to the bookstore or library.

Priors in the series: Track of the Cat, A Superior Death, Ill Wind.

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