I've been reading the Anna Pigeon series forever it seems, but in no particular order. Then I picked up a paperback copy of one I hadn't read at a book sale and just realized it was the very first Anna Pigeon mystery. I can't believe I had never read it before.
In Track of the Cat Anna is a fairly new National Park Ranger stationed at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in West Texas. She had become a ranger after her husband died in an accident in New York. Being far from that city and living in a beautiful natural setting helps, but of course doesn't bring her husband back. She still mourns.
As the story begins, Anna is completing a transect of the park looking for signs of mountain lions. Ranchers just outside the park are always complaining that lions from the park are killing their livestock, and the ranchers want to be able to hunt them. Anna loves the animals, and the park periodically does these transects to see if and where the cats are; they also have banded some of them. Anna comes to McKittrick Canyon and finds the body of another female ranger, apparently killed by a mountain lion.
Those of us who know Anna well know that she is a loner. When she needs to talk, she calls her sister, a psychiatrist in New York City. In this book though she makes a friend, which causes difficulty because the friend is also a suspect in the killing. You see, the ranger wasn't killed by a mountain lion. She was murdered.
That's all I'm going to tell you because this is every bit as good a story as the rest of the series. Once you read that first page, you're hooked and won't put the book down until the end. I always recommend Nevada Barr for readers who like strong women protagonists and masterful descriptions of nature, as well as witty internal dialogue. If you aren't an Anna Pigeon follower, please look for Nevada Barr in your local library or bookstore.