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Winter Study: 08/18/13

cover art

Winter Study by Nevada Barr is the fourteenth Anna Pigeon mystery and the first one I've listened to as read by Barbara Rosenblat. Anna has returned to Lake Superior (see also A Superior Death, this time in winter time, to help with the tracking of the wolves. The program is under scrutiny and it might be the last winter season to run the program.

Barr's descriptions of the brutality of winter on Lake Superior are chilling (excuse the pun). Here the weather forces the usual recalcitrant Anna to work with her cohorts, and worse, follow their lead. Unfortunately for her, the close knit family dynamic has been upset by the inclusion of both Anna and a pair of scientists from Homeland Security.

Almost immediately it's obvious that things on Isle Royale are out of kilter. The wolves are acting strange and winter starvation is taking its toll on the moose population. Anna begins to imagine the island being haunted by the windigo and evidence of larger than normal wolf prints give credence to her daydreams. Within these scenes, though, there are hints to what is actually going on. An observant reader will figure out the pieces. The danger created by the weather as well as close confinement, will compel the reader to continue, though.

Winter Study was one of the most difficult audios I've listened to for its graphic depiction of violence. There are some gory descriptions of the blood against the snow that are both poetic and stomach churning — especially when listened to.
But it's tactfully done and an essential part of the story. It needs to be there to understand the actions Anna and the others take at the end of their time on Isle Royale.

Four stars

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