Tyrannosaur Canyon

Tyrannosaur Canyon
© 2006 Douglas Preston
416 pages

What do a ‘misplaced’ lunar sample and a fossil hunter shot dead in the high mesas of New Mexico have in common?  Their shared secret is one that would answer one of humanity’s oldest questions…and threaten our extinction. Preston, who has traveled Arizona and New Mexico extensively on horseback, puts his intimacy with the landscape of the Four Corners to use here, leading readers through ancient and winding canyons, perfect for ambushes and plot twists.

For the most part, Tyrannosaur Canyon seems like a straightforward murder mystery, made perfectly interesting by its setting of paleontological intrigue. Before going the way of the dinosaurs, the slain fossil hunter conveys a message to a local, swearing him to secrecy and begging him to get a notebook of mysterious numbers to his daughter, Robbie.  The notebook is coveted by the murderer and the man who hired him, and eventually by a retired CIA spook turned Benedictine novitiate, but when a mysterious organization armed with Predator drones surfaces, everyone realizes they’re in over their heads.  At stake is not a lusted-for paleontological prize,  but something more dangerous — so dangerous that it merits a black-ops detachment known only by a number to monitor and contain it.

Tyrannosaur Canyon found a happy audience in me for various reasons;  its main character, who values his word more than his fear;  the setting of New Mexico;  the supporting character whose contribution was her scientific work, which was shown to the reader and not merely declared;  and of course, the dinosaur angle.  Science and mystery give way to action scenes halfway through, but there are four unfolding simultaneously, involving all the characters.  Prolonged peril loses its point, but on the whole I enjoyed this first encounter with Preston’s fiction.

Note:  reading this and Dragon Teeth side by side was an accident. I started this one first, then a long-forgotten hold for Crichton’s came in on Friday, with a short-term loan. Worked out well, though..

Related:
The Monkey Wrench Gang, also involving long chases in slot canyons.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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7 Responses to Tyrannosaur Canyon

  1. CyberKitten says:

    Not book related but….. Presumably (from the predicted storm track) you're in no danger of being flooded out in the next few days? These days living on the ground floor (or first floor over there!) isn't really such a good idea. Three floors up sounds about right….

  2. R.T. says:

    Stephen, I've read a few things by Preston (and Preston and Child), and enjoyed the entertainment. Your fine posting/review gives me another title to add to my library wish-list for future visits. I'm a sucker for well-written murder mysteries. Thanks!

  3. Stephen says:

    We're in for a few days of thunderstorms, but as far as I know there's no declared danger of flooding. Right now I'm house-sitting at a place that's more or less on a hill. I think I'm safe, I'll just have to convince the pooch to do her 'duty' in the wet..

  4. Mudpuddle says:

    my geology background has me slavering at the trough… i'll definitely look for this one in the library… tx…

  5. Stephen says:

    Believe it or not, my library has a Zane Gray western that involves an archaeologist. Going to look at it, too..

  6. James says:

    Science and mystery sound like a good combination to me. At first I thought I might have read something else by this author, but I confused him with Richard Preston who authored The Hot Zone among other books.

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