Before I start I should say that this is not the cover of the book I read. My library catalogue only had the one copy and it was large print. I couldn't find that cover on the net so this picture will have to do. I also discovered that Devon library services don't charge for reserving large print books, so that made me feel guilty and a fraud because I wasn't reserving large print because I need it (although...) I just wanted to read the book! And it is a bit odd reading large print books... but actually quite nice as there's no strain involved whatsoever. I could get to like it.
So, this is book two of Nevada Barr's 'Anna Pigeon' series of crime thriller type stories. Anna, a national park ranger, has moved on from the Guadalupe Mountain NP after solving a murder down there. She is now on Lake Superior, on Isle Royale NP to be exact, which is towards the north shore of the lake, quite close to the Canadian border but officially part of Michigan.
The summer season is just beginning for Anna. Two divers who've been diving the old wreck of the merchant ship, Kamloops, talk to Anna about the six bodies that are down there... Anna thinks they're mistaken as there should only be five, but it turns out they're correct. There is an extra floating body down there, dressed in an antique service uniform. She is also approached by two seasonals, young husband and wife, Damien and Tinker, who think one of the other rangers, a difficult, surly individual, has murdered his wife and eaten her to dispose of the body!
The body in the wreck turns out to be that of Denny Castle, one of a trio of divers who do trips for tourists. His partners, twins Hawk and Holly, immediately come under suspicion but others had both motive and opportunity. Denny had just married but was possibly having an affair with the missing ranger's wife. How do all these facts tie in? Very much a novice diver, Anna's investigations take her to the bottom of Lake Superior where she'd really rather not be. And it turns out that it's not just the dangers of cold water, deep diving that threaten her life.
Excellent, excellent, excellent. Yet another edge of your seat read from Nevada Barr. Down in Texas Anna was falling off mountains for excitement. Up here on Lake Superior she's down in the depths of the lake, where it's dark and dangerous and there are issues with how long she can be down there before she'll have problems with the bends when coming up. She also has no idea who she can trust amongst her colleagues and, although she loves the 'loner' outdoors lifestyle, does feel the need for human companionship from time to time. I love the fact that she is very human with plenty of foibles, but also quite a strong character who never gives up on an investigation when others think there's nothing to investigate.
Nevada Barr has chosen yet another unique setting for this second book in her series. I had no idea there was an island in Lake Superior. And a national park at that. This is NASA's view of it:
Isle Royale is to the left of centre, very close to the Canadian border and the province of Ontario. Three American states have a coastline on Lake Superior, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. I didn't know that either... I would have guessed a couple of them but was surprised that there were three:
Being a map person I have to include a map of all of the Great Lakes:
The only one I've seen is Lake Erie - we stayed at Port Clinton and visited The Bass Islands. Very, very beautiful. Another time we visited the Finger Lakes in New York state and I now realise how close I came to seeing Lake Ontario without realising it. Rats.
I digress... here is Isle Royale from the air:
And so beautiful from the ground too:
I forgot to check where all the photos came from so I must apologise for that. Hopefully they were all from tourist sites and nothing personal.
It seems this new challenge of mine is leading me to all kinds of interesting places. I definitely plan to read more about this corner of the USA - I was bowled over by its beauty and am now wondering about its history. It seems to be all lakes, rivers and forests (how wonderful!) so that has to mean some interesting historical stuff. I certainly hope to find out at some stage.
Back to the books - I can't recommend this series highly enough and this was an excellent read. The next Anna Pigeon book is already on order as the library has no copy of it whatsoever. It's Ill Wind and takes place in the Mesa Verde NP in Colorado. I honestly cannot *wait*.