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Flashback (Barr, Nevada) Hardcover – Feb 2003


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Publishing Group (Feb. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739432648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399149757
  • ASIN: 0399149759
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.5 x 23.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,451,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Until she ran out of oxygen, Anna was willing to believe she was taking part in a PBS special. Read the first page
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By Clare O'Beara TOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 Jan. 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A lighthouse flashing and letters taking us to a past time are the reasons for the title. The device of a bundle of letters or diary is fairly well worn, but people did record their daily lives in the past. Anna Pigeon, National Park Ranger, moves around the States showing us various parks, and this time she is in Florida off Key West at Fort Jefferson. Her boyfriend's divorce was finalised and he asked her to marry him. Unable to give up her freedom so simply, Anna took a temporary posting to give herself time to consider. A bundle of letter from Civil War times in that fort are her company at night, so no wonder she starts seeing ghosts and hearing things. But a young woman is found dead, and the young woman who wrote the letters vanished without trace, so Anna has to solve two mysteries.
The other rangers on the island are not the most likeable bunch; other rangers in the series have been nicer characters. The end is very adventurous and while this wasn't my favourite of the series, it is a good read.
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By Katie M on 3 Feb. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Brilliantly written (as always), Flashback was a departure from her usual style. I object to having to write certain # words.
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By Mrs. M. Corran on 18 Aug. 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Arrived speedily, well packaged, and a great read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 108 reviews
63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
A Reluctant Four Stars 19 Mar. 2003
By Tucker Andersen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I recently began reading Nevada Barr's books featuring Ranger Anna Pigeon at the suggestion of my daughter, her husband (they have both been rangers in the National Park Service) and my wife, all of whom have enjoyed the series. I enjoyed HUNTING SEASON enough that I decided to read FLASHBACK, and as my review will make clear my reactions to the book were very ambivalent. The book involves Anna's decision to accept a temporary post at Dry Tortugas National Park located near Garden Key off the coast of Florida. We actually attended a talk and book signing for Nevada Barr recently; she revealed that the location for this story had been suggested to her by three different readers during a previous book tour. Thus, if you have any suggestions for her, I recommend that you locate the nearest stop on her current tour and feel confident that she will listen carefully to you.
Dry Tortugas Park consists primarily of Fort Wadsworth, a military fortress constructed prior to the civil war but utilized instead as a Union prison for reasons explained in the novel. In addition to Confederate Civil war prisoners, the Lincoln Conspirators were imprisoned there, and this fact is an integral part of the story. Anna is temporarily replacing the previous superintendent of the facility, who has been institutionalized after seeing apparitions and apparently suffering a nervous breakdown. Shortly after assuming her post, Anna begins to delve into the Fort's history through reading the letters of her great-great aunt Raffia, who lived at the Fort during the civil war while her husband was the military commandant of the prison. Two parallel mysteries unfold and need to be solved, one involving some mysterious events and disappearances described in the letters and one involving present day events. The unexplained explosion of a mysterious cigar boat in the waters near the Fort and accompanying loss of life lead to a series of incidents that endanger Anna and cause her to question her own sanity. Thus she is distracted from what she hoped would be a quiet assignment during which she could resolve her indecision about the proposal of marriage which she recently received from sheriff and ex-priest Paul Davidson. Additional complexities eventually develop, including the real motivations of Anna's coworkers; given the closed and isolated nature of the post she suspects that recent deaths, disappearances and apparently illegal activities must involve the complicity of someone stationed at the Fort.
This is a very well plotted mystery, and the conclusion is very satisfying (altough a little contrived) as Anna unravels the threads of both the present day events and also finds a soluion to the unexplained occurrences outlined in Raffia's letters. There are some really interesting characters, and their interaction with Anna is a joy at times. In addition, there are some observations that really ring true and are articulated quite enjoyably, for instance:
Anna mirrored my own frustration at times when she kept exchanging messages with a law enforcemant officer on the mainland and observed "it seemed with each new invention developed to make communication easier- call waiting, forwarding, voicemail, pagers, cell phones - the more dificult it became to get in touch with anyone"
or tourists at the Fort "made the place mundane,{robbing it} of mystery and romance".
And what a great personal insight, "of the various neuroses, the one she most lusted after was the one that she could never quite attain".
Finally what a wonderful reply by Paul to her indecision concerning his marriage proposal and her question about its duration. "It will stand forever. Maybe lean a little after eight hundred years like the Tower of Pisa, but it will still be standing."
So, why did I only reluctantly rate this book as high four stars, and not a glowing five stars? I found that the technique which the author used to weave the two stories together significantly inhibited my enjoyment. Anna's adventures are interspersed in alternate chapters with the letters of Raffia, which relate the events during the Civil War. Furthermore, many of the chapters end in the midst of very tense situations, while this seems somewhat natural in the case of the letters it seems totally contrived in Anna's situation. Thus, I found it very easy to put the book down since I knew the next chapter provided no continuity with what I had just read. This is just the opposite of what I expect from a good mystery, where I want to get so involved that I stay up late to keep reading. I was tempted to sometimes just skip ahead, but was never sure whether I would lose context by so doing. So I found the effort by the author interesting and credit her with the attempt to do something new, but in the end I found it unsatisfying and while it was intellectually interesting it detracted from my enjoyment of the story. And from both other reviews and the reaction of my wife and friends, I realize that my feelings are quite widely shared. So I recommend the book, but with the caveat that you should be prepared for this very unusual literary technique.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Great Rebound for Barr! 24 Mar. 2003
By Wendy Kaplan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Don't let the slow beginning fool you. "Flashback" is the best Nevada Barr book since "Deep South." This time around, Anna, sans dog and erstwhile fiancee Paul, is stationed for a brief time on the Dry Tortugas--the southernmost point of the Florida Keys, and therefore of the United States.
It should be a quiet, sleepy respite for Anna, who is filling in for the regular ranger--a man who has gone inexplicably mad. But then--where Anna goes, trouble follows, and this outing is no exception. In very short order, Anna, too, begins to fear she is losing her mind. There are ghosts that appear and disappear, flashing lights that cannot be, noises that may or may not be real, and the reality of the spooky Civil War fort that makes up the national park may just serve to take Anna's sanity away for good.
Told against this very interesting backdrop is another story entirely--that of Anna's ancestor Raffia Coleman, wife of the Civil War Union commander of the fort, which in those days housed Confederate prisoners, not the least of whom was the notorious Dr. Mudd, accused of helping to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Through a series of letters written by Raffia (and sent to Anna by her sister Molly), a dark and brooding mystery unfolds. Although this device has been used by other others, most notably by Anita Shreve (in "The Color of Water"), it in no way detracts from the interesting juxtaposition between Civil War times and the all-too-frightening present.
As Anna hallucinates between dreams of her great great aunt's letters and the strange goings-on of the present, the reader becomes rivited. When Barr is on, she is really on--and this book proves the point. A tragic murder of the past, and a deeping mystering of the present all entertwine to make Anna struggle for her wits and her sanity.
A good, solid yarn. Welcome back, Nevada Barr and Anna!
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
two mysteries add to atmosphere 21 Feb. 2003
By Lynn Harnett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Before accepting a temporary supervisor's job at the Dry Tortugas National Park, an island 70 miles off Key West, park ranger Anna Pigeon had never heard of the place. Though most of the park is under water, the above-ground part is covered by Fort Jefferson, a brick behemoth built during the Civil War and obsolete before it was finished. The diving is fabulous, but after two weeks Anna is ready for something else to distract her from thinking about wedlock (fans will remember Sheriff Paul Davidson). She's beginning to understand how her predecessor went mad after his girlfriend left him.
Then her sister sends a box of letters from her great-great-aunt, Raffia, wife of Fort Jefferson's commanding officer in 1865, by which time the fort was a military prison, full of deserters and rebel prisoners. That same night Anna's second-in-command, a spit and polish type, goes missing on patrol. And the story - both stories - told in alternating, cliff-hanger chapters, takes off.
Raffia's story involves her 16-year-old sister, a handsome rebel soldier brutalized by a thuggish sergeant, and the arrival of the Lincoln assassination conspirators, including Dr. Samuel Mudd, who proclaims himself innocent of anything except setting the assassin's leg. Intrigue and collusion are in the charged air and a young girl's romanticism can get people killed. Barr brings the original fort to teeming life through the lonely, compassionate eyes and tart voice of a woman isolated in an uncommunicative army marriage.
The present-day story involves a number of breathtaking near-death experiences for Anna, as well as spectacular dives and dogged detective work piecing together a tangled (but not totally surprising) modern conspiracy which culminates in a gorgeously over-the-top finale. The parallel tale-telling works well to entangle the two though it can be maddening leaving Anna trapped at the bottom of the ocean with her air hose just out of reach....
But, as always, Barr's ("Hunting Season," "Firestorm") evocation of the natural setting (and the human menace) is vivid and the action scenes are among her best.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Worst of the series 8 Feb. 2008
By Avid_Reader84 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I've read all of the Nevada Barr mysteries and this by far is the worst. Jumping back and forth between the two stories was tiring and boring. I only made it halfway through, and I had to struggle to get that far. The rest of the books in the series are good, but I don't recommend this one for a first time reader of the series.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Flashback confusion 23 July 2003
By K. Eggleston - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I am an avid fan of Nevada Barr books - the great combination of national parks and mystery stories in her books blend together to form a unique and fantastic read. It is very hard to find her books here in Australia, so over time I have acquired the complete set of Anna Pigeon books via Amazon.
I managed to borrow Flashback from my local library, and read it in a few days. There were two factors that lead to only giving it four stars:
Being from Australia, I have little background knowledge of the American Civil War, and couldn't tell whether the characters such as Dr Samuel Mudd were based on real people or were fiction. I also found similar distance issues with Liberty Falling, as there were specific details that as a non-American, I couldn't quite relate to. I felt a little bit alienated whilst reading Flashback, and wondered whether I should undertake some research about the American Civil War before I continued any further. Nevertheless, I finished it without needing to.
Secondly, I also found the alternating chapters between Anna's activities and that of Aunt Raffia and Tilly hard to follow. A chapter would often end in a dramatic moment, and then the next would follow with a completely different tone. By the time that chapter was finished, I had forgotten what was going on with Anna, (or Raffia), from two chapters ago. As I read it over a few days, this meant a little bit of backtracking occasionally to remind myself of where everyone was at.
I still think that Firestorm and Track of the Cat are the best in the series, and Blind Descent the most vividly descriptive.
I would recommend any of the Anna Pigeon series to mystery readers, those interested in female leads, and even more so, those interested in descriptive stories set in wilderness areas.
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