Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr

Destroyer Angel (Anna Pigeon, #17)Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In her 17th Anna Pigeon novel, Barr has Anna out for a camping trip in upper Minnesota. She is with her friend Heath and daughter Elizabeth, another mother and daughter combination, Leah and Katie, and a dog, Wily.

While Anna takes an idyllic canoe float relaxing and gazing at the stars, the camp is disrupted by the appearance of four men intent on kidnapping Leah and Katie. One man, the dude, is the man in charge, and the other three are misfits completely out of their element. The four have no chemistry and were apparently thrown together to complete this one evil task. Other than Leah and Katie, the other campers are excess baggage, which doesn't bode well for their survival. The one saving grace is the kidnappers believe Heath's story that Anna had stayed home. They believe they're only dealing with the four they find in camp.

Why do the kidnapping out in the wilderness, when they knew there would be other witnesses to deal with? Good question, and one Barr never provides an answer for. That particular plot hole drags on an otherwise thrilling story.

Anna overhears the thugs' plans and must decide on whether to take the canoe and go for help, or go commando, using her woodland survival skills to try and rescue the captives. She determines that by the time she could return with help, it might be too late to help anyone.

All of the characters are damaged in some way, the kidnappers and captives, and Barr uses both the physical and psychological afflictions the respective characters possess to move the story forward. Heath is a paraplegic; Leah is an unfeeling automaton with engineering expertise, but no parental skills. One of the thugs is a pedophile and another, a displaced gangbanger. The combination makes for great drama and occasional humor.

Setting the kidnapping in the wilderness certainly set the story up for Anna to display her skills and her grit, and Barr put that to its best use throughout. She also showed that good people with damaged souls can find redemption when placed in impossible situations.

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Friday, May 02, 2014

Early May Musings

Writers Block
I saw a quote in Sunday Parade Newspaper by Anna Quindlen on writers block. She said:

"Some days I fear writing dreadfully, but I do it anyway. I've discovered that sometimes writing badly can eventually lead to something better. Not writing at all leads to nothing."

And so writing this blog, I'll keep working for "something better", and for having written it, I'll feel better. There's something to say for that.

Edgar Awards
Congratulations to all the Edgar winners and nominees.
Last night the Mystery Writers of America awarded the 2014 Edgar Awards. You can see the full list of winners and nominees at Mystery Writers of America. Here you go:

Best Novel - Winner: 
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (Simon & Schuster – Atria Books)
Best First Novel - Winner:
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)
Best Paperback Original - Winner: 
The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood (Penguin Group USA - Penguin Books)
Best Fact Crime - Winner: 
The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War 
by Daniel Stashower (Minotaur Books)
Best Critical/Biographical - Winner: 
America is Elsewhere: The Noir Tradition in the Age of Consumer Culture 
by Erik Dussere (Oxford University Press)
Best Short Story - Winner:
"The Caxton Private Lending Library and Book Depository" – Bibliomysteries by John Connolly (Mysterious Bookshop)

Best Juvenile - Winner:
One Came Home by Amy Timberlake 
(Random House Children's Books – Alfred A. Knopf BFYR)
Young Adult - Winner: 
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
TV Episode Teleplay - Winner: 
"Episode 1" – The Fall, Teleplay by Allan Cubitt (Netflix)
Robert L. Fish Memorial Award 
"The Wentworth Letter" – Criminal Element's Malfeasance Occasional by Jeff Soloway (St. Martin's Press)
Mary Higgins Clark Award - Winner: 
Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman (Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine Books)
Grand Master  
Robert Crais
Carolyn Hart
Aunt Agatha’s Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Pirate baseball
It was a shame the Pirates lost a double header yesterday to Baltimore. After the great season they had last year, this season has started out disappointing to say the least. But, it's a long season and they still have time to recover. They have to find more consistent hitting, especially with men on base, and even though the bull pen is doing statistically well, it seems they're giving up untimely hits that are losing ballgames.