Anna Pigeon, the central character in the seventh of Nevada Barr’s novels about the National Park Service, is a visitor to New York City, where her beloved sister and counselor, the psychiatrist Molly Pigeon, is hospitalized in critical condition. Anna is staying at the National Park Service headquarters on Liberty Island with Patsy, a woman she had known on a previous assignment to a western park.
A series of accidents begins with the death of a nameless adolescent girl who jumps or is pushed from a high point on the statue. She does not resemble the typical runaway. Anna is among the first people on the scene and is the only one to be aware that a knapsack the girl had been carrying seems to have disappeared.
Jim Hatcher, a ranger who also witnessed the accident, is the next victim, an apparent suicide who may have acted out of guilt; he had apparently been chasing the girl when she fell. Then, in what seems to be an unrelated occurrence, Anna is almost pushed to her death in the subway in Manhattan. She also has a narrow escape from death when exploring the abandoned buildings of what had been a major entry port for arriving immigrants.
As Molly recovers, Anna gets closer to an understanding of a conspiracy intended to set the stage for a terrorist attack on the Statue. The resolution involves all the threads of the novel’s action except those dealing with Molly and her suitor and an abortive romance between Anna and Molly’s physician.