Fasten your seat belts: this new mystery by best-selling author Nevada Barr proves to be a thrilling page-turner.
- by Scott Naugle
Nevada Barr was born in Yerington, Nevada and attended college at the University of California, Irvine. Her degree was in drama and she pursued a career in performance post-graduation.
After a career change, Barr became a park ranger, first assigned to the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi. She created her best-selling Anna Pigeon mystery series based on her experiences working in a national park.
In addition to the Anna Pigeon series of novels, Barr also published the novel Bittersweet, set in the early days of the Western frontier and the nonfiction Seeking Enlightenment… Hat by Hat: A Skeptic’s Guide to Religion.
Rose is heavily drugged, and after a bout of pneumonia when the drugs temporarily wear off, she questions why she has been placed in the facility. She foils the effort to begin the drug therapy again and escapes the facility.
Why and how she was committed to Longwood is at the heart of the What Rose Forgot.
Barr’s training in performance and movement is evident in the novel. Rose barely slithers through a partially opened window to escape a man bent on killing her, “Flattening her body against the slope of the roof, she inches away from the porch. The asphalt shingles sandpaper the skin on her cheek and palms. Her feet scuffle in the uncleaned gutter.”
Every small movement and resultant sensation are detailed much like a practiced performer perfects her stage-craft, aware of how movement matters to the audience.
And how refreshing it is to have a mature heroine, in other words, a vibrant, intelligent, active character, Rose Dennis, pushing seventy years of age. After escaping from Longwood the first time, “Night air, warm and soft, sinks into her, a balm for a sore body and a troubled mind… Fresh real air is sustenance for the spirit, filled with life-affirming qualities scientists will never discovering windowless laboratories.” Rose is a sexagenarian excited and optimistic to be alive.
Grabbing the knife from an attacker, Rose severs his finger. She crawls through shrubbery and undergrowth to hide in a child’s playhouse overnight. Rose re-enters Longwood in costume and subdues a night nurse twice her size.
And she cogently and logically thinks through the chain of events and the whiff of a few clues, to figure out who and why this was done to her. Age did not diminish Rose Dennis. Barr creates an extremely believable older female hero who becomes the heart and soul of What Rose Forgot.
I read What Rose Forgot in one sitting. I had to. Nothing else mattered to me until Rose Dennis thwarted the bad guys and solved the mystery.