Synopses & Reviews
About this Guide:
The questions, author biography, and list of other mysteries featuring National Parks Ranger Anna Pigeon that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of Nevada Barr's FIRESTORM. We hope that they will provide you with new ways of looking at this exciting mystery.
About this Book:
In Nevada Barr's FIRESTORM, a jackknife fire rages through the hills of California, stranding a whole crew of firefighters. Alone and cut off from the world, among the charred and ravaged landscape, the crew must face another peril -- one of their crew has been murdered. While tending to the physical and emotional wounds of the crew, Anna Pigeon, a medic and security officer, endangers herself to uncover the identity of the murderer hidden among them. Played out against the rugged forces of nature, FIRESTORM reveals human nature in all its pettiness and glory. Nevada Barr takes us on a journey of extremes as we experience the power of nature and man's ability to survive not only the hazards of nature, but also the hazards of man.
Praise for this book
"Thrilling.... Dramatic.... The striking visceral quality of Ms. Barr's action scenes is all the more remarkable because she writes with such a cool, steady hand about the violence of nature and the cruelty of man."-- "The New York Times Book Review"
"A brilliantly executed mystery. Barr's gripping descriptions of fire bring to mind Dorothy Sayer's descriptions of flood in her classic, The Nine Tailors." -- "The Washington Post Book World"
"Excellent.... Compelling.... Nevada Barr is one of the best." "--The Boston Sunday Globe"
"Barr is a splendid storyteller, but it's her knowledge of the territorythat ignites this fast-paced and suspenseful whodunit." -- "Los Angeles Times Book Review"
1. Nevada Barr sets her story in a forest during and after a firestorm. Why might she have chosen to tell her story in this setting? What does the firestorm offer dramatically that another setting might not? How does the firestorm serve to illuminate her characters?
2. Nevada Barr's ability to evoke the forces of nature is extraordinary. What senses does she engage? What is the relation between the forces of nature and her themes?
3. The firestorm comes on so swiftly that it forces the crew to face a difficult choice: either to save Newt or to save themselves. From their decision, what can we deduce about human nature? What would you have done? After leaving Newt to die, Anna insists on searching for a murderer, even at great risk to herself. Discuss the irony of this situation.
4. By choosing to be a medic at spike camp, Anna has chosen a life that is physically demanding and potentially dangerous, free from the choices and concerns of everyday life. Why might Anna find this life so appealing? Is she running away from something? If so, what might it be?
5. Anna is portrayed as a character with strength. What characteristics does Nevada Barr imbue her with that make her "strong?" In what areas might Anna be weak? Is she comfortable in intimate relationships? If not, why not?
6. Nevada Barr switches back and forth between Anna's point of view and Frederick Stanton's point of view. Why does Barr choose to cut away from the mountain and include Stanton in the story? What effect does this have? How does Stanton's view of Anna change our view of her?
7.In the world of the firestorm what part of nature might Anna be like? With what part of nature could Stanton be associated?
8. The firestorm is fast, powerful and dangerous. Without warning, it builds and then sweeps through the forest. How is the nature of this phenomenon a metaphor for what happens between the people on the mountain? What experience occurs in the characters internally that could be comparable to the firestorm? How else can one apply this metaphor to the incidents in the novel?
9. Before the firestorm, Anna has little patience for Le Fleur, but after the firestorm she finds him much more agreeable. What is it about being so close to death that alters one's relationship to other people? As a result of the firestorm, what changes occur in the relationships between Anna and Hugh, Paula and Black Elk, Paula and Anna?
10. What place does "love" have in the world on the mountain? What role does love play for Lindstrom, for Paula, for Anna?
11. What skills help the characters survive in the wilderness? According to Nevada Barr, what role does personal character play in survival in the wilderness? If disaster brings out the best and worst in people, what does it bring out in Paula, Lindstrom, Anna, and Hugh?
12. Nevada Barr writes, "Out here the trappings of rank were stripped away, nature was a great equalizer...macho was a state of mind" (p. xxx). Do the roles of women and men differ on the mountain? Is gender important in this world? If so, how? In what way, if any, does Anna act "like a woman" on the mountain?
13. In Barr's FIRESTORM, nature is indifferent to mankind. In what ways do the characters behave like nature? In what ways do the charactersdiffer from nature?
About the Author:
Nevada Barr is a part time ranger with the National Park Service. Her first Anna Pigeon mystery won the Agatha and Anthony Awards for Best First Mystery in 1993. Her newest mystery is Endangered Species, available in hardcover. She lives in Clinton, Mississippi.
Nevada Barr is the author of three other mysteries featuring National Park Ranger Anna Pigeon.
As a national parks ranger, Anna Pigeon seeks refuge from her troubled past in the sanctuary of the ancient ruins high up in the Mesa Verde Mountains. But when a sacred burial site is unearthed to make way for a new waterline, and a little girl and a fellow ranger mysteriously die soon after, Anna's peace is shattered. She must put aside her own personal demons to discover the cause of the deaths; is it the spirits rebelling against the living or is something more devious and human at work? Anna must do battle with the unknown to uncover the source of the ill wind that blows through the ruins before it destroys humanity, the wilderness, and even Anna herself.
A SUPERIOR DEATH
Anna Pigeon's job as a ranger with the U.S. National Park Service leads her to many places in her effort to protect and preserve the wilderness from the corrosive effects of civilization. Now she finds herself trading the heat and solace of her home in the desert to navigate the damp, cold waters of Lake Superior.
When a local diver, suspiciously dressed in 1920's clothing, is found next to an inaccessible wreck and its crew of well-preserved corpses, Anna is plunged 260 feet below the foreboding waters to investigate the murder. As she searches for a connection between the drowned manand the old cargo ship, Anna is drawn into a tangled web of greed and murder. The killer is nearer than sh
An insatiable, unstoppable beast, the wildfire called Jackknife has already devoured 17,000 acres of California's Lassen Volcanic National Park. A devastating force of nature, it has brought out the very best -- and worst -- in those sworn to defeat it.
Ranger Anna Pigeon is among the exhausted firefighters, serving as medic and spike camp security, when an abrupt weather shift sends Jackknife racing relentlessly in their direction. And when the monstrous blaze has passed, Anna emerges from her protective shelter to discover two men are dead: one a victim of the hungry flames, the other stabbed through the heart. Now, trapped in a nightmarish landscape of snow and ash, cut off from rescue by a rampaging winter storm, Anna must investigate an inexplicable homicide -- as she and nine others struggle to survive the terrible rage if nature. . . and the murderer in their midst.
A superior mystery filled with "vibrant descriptions of the order and disorder in the natural world" (New York Times Book Review), by the author of Ill Wind. This gripping new mystery finds park ranger Anna Pigeon in the company of a killer, following a wild fire flare-up in the remote wilderness of northern California.
A raging fire in California's Lassen Volcanic National Park traps firefighters and Ranger Anna Pigeon. Afterward, Anna discovers two from her group have been killed--one a victim of the flames, the other stabbed to death. Now, as a rampaging winter storm descends, Anna must uncover a murderer.
About the Author
Navada Barr is the award-winning author of seven Anna Pigeon mysteries: Track of the Cat, A Superior Death, Ill Wind, Firestorm, Endangered Species, Blind Descent, and Liberty Falling.She lives in Mississippi and was most recently a ranger on the Natchez Trace Parkway