Track of the Cat

by Nevada Barr, 1993

Good mystery set in Guadalupe Mtn of Texas. Anna Pigeon is a National Park Service ranger. Discovers fellow ranger dead in the wilds supposedly by mountain lion. She is suspicious, though. She gets sabotaged on a hike, falls, very treacherous, but doesn’t die. Then another ranger, Craig Eastern, dies of snakebite in his tent. Anna figures it out: it’s Harland Roberts, another ranger. They are capturing collared lions in the national park and using them for canned hunts for the wealthy. She figures it out, confronts him in the night in the desert, ends up fighting, wounding him badly, leaving him there to either die or get picked up. The end.

Good writer but too nasty – lesbians and gruesome murders. Found out about it in a book review in the Denver Post. I thought it said it was better than the Ox-bow Incident but she didn’t write that at all. I must have been confused. Note to self: cut out book reviews of books I want to read.

Sample prose: “Taking another pull of the water, she let the sky draw her eyes into its perfect depths. No fear, nothing so petty as murder: it soothed her, overwhelmed her as it always did with a comforting sense of her own littleness; the reassuring knowledge that she was but a single note in the desert’s song, a minute singing in the concert of the earth. She thought of Molly, of her office full of clients.

In the city the lights blinded the night sky, robbed it of stars. Only the moon could compete, a pale contender against the roving search lights of mall openings, the unwinking concern of security lights. No one was given an opportunity to feel deliciously small, magnificently unimportant. Everyone was forced, always, to take their dying littles as truth.”