It's fall in the Sierra Mountains, and Anna Pigeon is slinging hash in Yosemite National Park's historic Ahwahnee Hotel. Four young people, all seasonal park employees, have disappeared, and two weeks of work by crack search-and-rescue teams have failed to turn up a single clue; investigators are unsure as to whether the four went AWOL for reasons of their own-or died in the park. Needing an out-of-park ranger to work undercover, Anna is detailed to dining-room duty; but after a week of waiting tables, she knows the missing employees are only the first indications of a sickness threatening the park.Her twenty-something roommates give up their party-girl ways and panic; her new restaurant colleagues regard her with suspicion and fear. But when Anna's life is threatened and her temporary supervisor turns a deaf ear, she follows the scent of evil, taking a solo hike up a snowy trial to the high country, seeking answers. What waits for her is a nightmare of death and greed-and perhaps her final adventure.
Washington Post Book World Eye-popping.New York Times Book Review Bone-chilling.Denver Post Nail-biting. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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June 28, 2005
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Excerpt from High Country by Nevada Barr
Would you like baked potato or pommes frites with that?" Anna asked politely.
"Can't I get French fries?"
"You bet." Anna wrote: "NY strip w/PFýwell done," on the pad.
As the mom and dad at table twenty-nine coaxed suitable orders from a five- and a nine-year-old with hearts set on pizza, Anna let her eyes drift up to the two-story windows enclosing the end of the dining room. Beyond their comforting reflections of safety and warmth stood granite boulders the size of houses. They in turn were dwarfed by ponderosa pines with trunks eight, ten, twelve feet in diameter and these made toylike by the sheer and towering cliff that served as a backdrop. The bones of Sierra Nevada, glistening with half-melted ice, held Yosemite Valley in the rockbound embrace of a ruined Shangri-la, a place where only the youth of the mountains was immortal and people grew old at an alarming rate. On a misty December afternoon the evergreens showed black against the streaked gray of rock: forbidding, dangerous, and, to Anna, utterly seductive. It was as if, should she leave the warm gold and russet of the grand Ahwahnee Hotel and cross the parking lot into the rocks and trees, she, too, would be leached of color, would walk in the world as a ghost, a mountain breeze, the whistle of a hawk's wing.
"Do you have hot dogs?" The reality of Mom's voice cut through Anna's ghost dance with the sharp laser light of a red microfleece-clad arm.
"No hot dogs."
"You oughta have a children's menu with hot dogs," the mother complained.
"I'll suggest it to the chef," Anna lied easily. The chef, a veteran of many four-star establishments, was fanatical in his hatred of hot dogs and only slightly more sanguine on the subject of children.
A turkey quesadilla was settled on, and Anna left the table to walk down the long gallery from the alcove. She'd always wanted to work in Yosemite National Park, but even in her dreams it never crossed her mind she would be there as a waitress.