Blind Descent

Nevada Barr
Putnam, 1998. 352pp
ISBN: 0-399-14371-8

review by Harriet Klausner

Forest ranger Anna Pigeon hates dark enclosed places. So when a caver is trapped inside Carlsbad Caverns, Anna is elated when she only has to serve as a liaison with the press and not enter the cavern. However, Anna is unable sit snugly in her office when the victim turns out to be her friend Frieda Diertz, who asks specifically for her help. Unable to say no, Anna joins the rescue team.

After an 8-hour journey into the bowels of hell, Anna reaches her friend's location. Frieda is barely lucid, but manages to express that this was no accident. On the way out, a cave-in occurs, leading to Frieda's death. Though park officials refuse to believe Anna's contention that a murder is loose, she decides to prove that she is not a hysterical, grieving person. Instead she vows to avenge the death of her friend and a subsequent second murder victim.

Readers will feel, see, smell, and touch every step that Nevada Barr makes in her underground trek as if they are part of the rescue party. The lyrical writing that makes up Blind Descent turns the brilliant mystery into a lyrical work of art that will endure. The heroine is a flawed person, who never gives into her phobias when it counts. This novel should be a New York Times bestseller.

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