Nevada Barr Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Nevada Barr provides a unique perspective within the canon of mystery and detective fiction written by women. By making her detective park ranger Anna Pigeon, Barr can traverse diverse terrain rather successfully. As a woman in a mostly male world, Anna can explore and indict the National Park Service’s often patriarchal rules and policies. In addition, because of the nature of National Park Service appointments, Anna can describe and delight in natural habitats across the United States without this movement from place to place becoming arbitrary or forced. Thus, Barr’s novels offer readers impressions of some of the most interesting natural habitats in the United States. Though Anna’s approach to crime seems a bit amateurish because the National Park Service does not expect its employees to have to deal with crimes, her organized and analytic nature makes her a natural investigator. Barr’s detective novels not only contain crime and detection but also comment on ecological concerns in a variety of picturesque natural habitats and inequality in the workplace, even as her works maintain a humanistic interest in the narrator and her concerns.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Barr, Nevada. Web Site of Nevada Barr. This Web site is maintained by Nevada’s sister Molly Barr and contains up-to-date information on Barr’s books. The site also hosts a gallery of the two sisters’ art, as well as photos of Nevada when she worked for the National Park Service. Though not necessarily a scholarly source, the personal elements of this site make it worthwhile when studying Nevada Barr.

Cava, Francis. Sleuths in Skirts: A Bibliography and Analysis of Serialized Female Sleuths. New York: Routledge, 2002. This book contains a compendium of information about female sleuths, including brief descriptions of heroines. The extended bibliography of detectives and works includes Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon. Index.

Line, Less. “Guadalupe Gumshoe.” Audubon 105 (September, 2003): 22-23. Line’s profile accentuates Barr’s interest in natural habitats and provides an overview of her work as a mystery novelist whose protagonist operates as a National Park Service ranger. This article also provides interesting statistics about national park violence and staffing as it relates to events within Barr’s novels.

Nolan, Tom. “For a Clue, Look Up.” The Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2003, p. W19. This profile of Barr focuses primarily on her writing style and her success with mysteries. Also includes information relative to her nonfictional work, Seeking Enlightenment Hat by Hat.

Rancourt, Linda. “Murder She Writes.” National Parks Magazine 69 (September/October, 1995): 30-35. This article in a National Park Service journal appeared early in Barr’s career, highlighting the importance of her National Park Service work in her writing. Drawing on workers’ comments from the various parks mentioned in Barr’s first three novels, as well as Barr’s comments on her own work, Rancourt shows how Barr combines her job of National Park ranger with that of mystery novelist.

Reynolds, Moira Davison, ed. Women Authors of Detective Series: Twenty-One American and British Authors, 1900-2000. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2001. Describes Barr’s work as well as that of twenty other female authors of detective fiction in the twentieth century.

Shindler, Dorman T. “Taking on History’s Mysteries.” Review of Flashback, by Nevada Barr. Publishers Weekly 250, no. 4 (January 27, 2003): 230. Ostensibly a review of Barr’s Flashback, this interview also addresses her use of history in both her mysteries and her historical Western, Bittersweet.