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by Nevada Barr
G. P.Putnam's Sons, February 2003
400 pages
ISBN: 0399149759

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Anna Pigeon has taken a position as interim supervisory ranger at Dry Tortugas National Park, 70 miles off Florida in the Gulf. The park is not much more than an abandoned Civil War fort that was never finished and a lighthouse on another key, but Anna needs the solitude to figure out what she's going to do with her life

As the fort was being constructed, it was found that the land mass on which Fort Jefferson was being built couldn't support the weight of the brick and stone being placed on it, so it was used to imprison Confederate prisoners, and, after the assassination of President Lincoln, Dr Samuel Mudd and Samuel Arnold were send there to serve their sentences.

Coincidentally, Anna's sister had sent some letters from an ancestor of theirs who had been the wife of the commandant of the prison for three years, and Anna reads the letters imagining that earlier time. Raffia Coleman wrote to Molly and Anna's great-great grandmother, Peggy, as often as she could.

The other ranger on the island follows a cigarette boat one night and is badly injured. He and his wife are helicoptered out to a hospital, leaving Anna with the maintenance men and the 2 lighthouse keepers as the only non-tourists in the park.

The story goes back and forth between Raffia's adventures and life as wife of the Commandant of the post, and the problems that beset Anna in the same location. This is one of my favorite series. I even thought that LIBERTY FALLING, which many people disliked, was fascinating. This one just falls flat. Bits of Raffia's life at Fort Jefferson are fascinating, but Anna's hallucinations and the denouement of both tales are rather mundane. I fully expect the next book to be back on track.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, January 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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