This novel brings Anna Pigeon to the hallowed ground of one of the jewels of the National Park system - Yosemite. Barr has established Pigeon's character and style as a working Park Ranger in 11 previous novels since 1993 and the series is popular. In this novel she is undercover, posing as a working waitress at a hotel restaurant, trying to get information about the disappearance of four young people employed in the Park, which is tied to drug trafficking among the permanent residents of the Park.
Barr writes Pigeon from the perspective of an omniscient narrator who talks ceaselessly to tell us what's on Anna's mind - often more information than we need. Dialogue is not a strong point, and most of the characters sound like Barr herself - a literate woman who has been involved in theater and the arts. The chatty, overly literate, opinionated style and voice are not uncommon in mystery series about female heroes of a certain age, which may say something about the tastes and expectations of the target readership of this kind of novel.
Barr separates herself from the pack in several ways. Barr writes Pigeon in a very fresh and strong setting. She appreciates the privilege of working among the natural treasures of the park system and Barr can be vivid and eloquent in writing about the land and the wildlife, and, like Park pros (Barr herself was a range at one time) condescending towards the ordinary tourists who patronize the Parks. She writes with real authority about the risks and dangers of law enforcement, fire suppression and rescue work. Pigeon is a strong and sympathetic heroine, with strong insights into people, sensitive to gestures and nuances in conversation.
"High Country" has some problems with pace. Several early chapters are devoted to interactions with potentially sinister characters and to real and false clues, with a lot of chatter. They move slowly. Once Barr gets the story moving, she has several harrowing scenes in which Pigeon confronts and outwits dangerous antagonists on wintry mountainside, at night. Barr, unlike many other writers, makes Pigeon quite introspective about her own confrontational character and about her own propensity to dangerous and violent action.