Blind Descent

  • Nevada Barr

  I don't even like it when the elevator door closes, but I like the feisty and fictional Anna Pigeon so much that I gritted my teeth and followed her down into Lechuguilla Cave. Nevada Barr's newest mystery, Blind Descent, takes park ranger Anna Pigeon a thousand feet under southern New Mexico, into the deepest and, possibly, largest cave in the world.


Though Pigeon fights claustrophobia to try to rescue a friend, the plot takes second place to the caves themselves and to cavers as they wriggle through wormholes on their bellies or traverse huge caverns.


There are bad guys, of course, and here they are the gas-drillers who probe at a slant into BLM land and accidentally (or not) hit a huge unexplored cave which only Anna and her dead friend have seen.


"The cavern walls were draped in curtains of liquid stone, frozen in place one molecule at a time over the history of the world." " But a little further on, "That was what had been. Before poison rained down from above ... Aragonite trees lay smashed on the cavern floor. The lake was full of mud ... A pipe casing a foot in diameter cut through the ruined ceiling to plunge into the hideous pile and disappear."


Nevada Barr is a fine writer and a strong environmentalist who speaks from experience. She has done stints as a ranger in several national parks, and as one writer puts it: "Her books are High Country News - fictionalized."


* Henrietta Hay


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