Blind Descent: 01/12/23
Blind Descent by Nevada Barr and Barbara Rosenblat (Narrator) (1998) is the sixth Anna Pigeon mystery. It's set primarily in the Lechuguilla Cavern which is part of Carlsbad Cavern National Park. Anna has been called in to be the lady in waiting on a rescue of her friend from deep within the cave. Once found, her friend insists her accident was no accident. She also makes a cryptic report of something else wrong in the cave system. And then a tragic rock fall kills her friend, thus rendering the rescue into a recovery.
My main complaint about this book is that it's about seventy-five to a hundred pages too long. Or in terms of the audiobook I listened to, about three hours too long. The start and end of the novel is heavily padded with excruciating details of how caving works. Every time they go on and off rope. Every climb up and down. Every pit stop. Every time a lantern is turned on or off. Every damn crystal formation. Every minute way a person can damage a cave.
In comparison, the above ground stuff, which happens to involve a second murder and a missing person's case, is done on fast-forward. There the focus seems more on what Anna eats, when she sleeps and when she drinks (since she's a recovering alcoholic).
Every once in a while, the novel even remembers that it's a mystery and some investigating is done. But here's the thing, these Anna Pigeon mysteries are, as I've mentioned before, extremely predictable.
Before Anna and the others had even found her friend I knew how the novel would play out. First, the friend would die on the way back and Anna would be injured. Then Anna would hem and haw about what to do and finally decide to investigate. In the meantime she'd be chewed out for what she did or didn't do. Someone else would die and Anna would be injured again. Something would lead Anna back into Lechuguilla Cavern where she would again be injured (and nearly killed) while being attacked by the murderer / mastermind. And then there would be a quick-ish wrap up.
As the book did in fact play out just as I knew it would, listening to the second descent into the cave was painful. Barbara Rosenblat does a wonderful job and while she remains one of my favorite narrators, I decided at the 2/3 point of this one to switch back to print versions. Print is easier to skim and these Anna Pigeon mysteries often need skimming.
The seventh book is Liberty Falling (1999). As I've read it and reviewed it, I'm moving on to book eight, Deep South (2000).