Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr – Review

Published by Headline

Publication date – 12 February 2015

Source – review copy

isbn9781472202284-detail

“After a summer fighting wildfire, US Park Ranger Anna Pigeon sets off on a camping trip to the Iron Range in upstate Minnesota. With her are four women: Heath, Leah and their two teenage daughters. For Heath, who is paraplegic, it is the chance to test out a new, cutting edge line of outdoor equipment, designed by Leah to make the wilderness more accessible to disabled campers. On their second night, Anna takes a canoe out on the Fox River but when she returns, she finds that a band of kidnappers, armed with rifles, pistols and knives, has taken the group hostage. With limited resources and no access to the outside world, it is up to Anna to track them across the treacherous landscape and rescue her friends before it is too late…”

I received a copy of this book from the publishers and this is my honest review of the book.

Park Ranger Anna Pigeon is hoping to spend a few days enjoying a trip in the Minnesota forests, whilst her friend Heath, tries out new camping equipment designed for the disabled by Leah Hendricks. Also on the trip is Heath’s daughter Elizabeth and Leah’s daughter Katie. But on the first evening, whilst Anna is enjoying a moment alone, the peace is shattered when Heath, Leah and the girls are kidnapped. Anna must work alone to save the women before it is too late.

I have read previous Anna Pigeon novels and enjoyed them immensely. For some reason I had stopped reading the series a few years ago. After reading Destroyer Angel I will be renewing my acquaintance with Anna Pigeon again.

There is violence running throughout this novel, be it actual physical violence perpetrated upon the female characters, or indeed by them, or the underlying constant threat of it, that is so palpable it becomes almost a character in its own right. It isn’t barbaric or gratuitous however, which show consideration and skill by Nevada Barr.

The action is full on, the women are taken hostage within a few pages and Anna’s almost insurmountable task of rescuing them begins in earnest. There is no respite for them or us as a reader.

As much as this is a thriller it is as much a story about adaptation and survival. Anna almost breaks away from her human self, so fixated is she on tracking the kidnappers and her friends, she forgets the social norms that are usually in place. When the reality of the situation breaks through, it is almost as if she is awoken from a dream, struggling as she does to revert back to accepted actions. She goes from being a lawful peacekeeper to someone who sits outside society, almost to understand her ‘prey’ as it were. Similarly, her friends transform as they undergo their ordeal. Each one becomes aware of what they are capable of, where their strengths lie and indeed what those strengths are. And find out exactly what they will do to survive.

This book drew me in from early on and I was gripped throughout. The characterisation was spot on, the kidnappers truly vile, the women pushed to the extreme and not always easy to like.

There were some sections that seemed too descriptive and technical to me, in particular the scenes when Leah is adapting Heath’s wheelchair. However, I let these scenes almost wash over me and they didn’t detract from my enjoyment. In fact, throughout the book it was easy to visualise the scenes depicted, transported as I was to the forest, feeling as closed off and remote as the characters did.

Destroyer Angel has reignited my enjoyment of the Anna Pigeon novels and I’ll be reading the ones I have missed whilst I wait for the latest instalment.

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