Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tyrannosaur Canyon

Tyrannosaur Canyon, by Douglas Preston
$5.99 in the Hansisgreat Gift Shop
ISBN: 9780330448642
Looking for a fast-paced thriller that's part Da Vinci Code and part Jurassic Park? Douglas Preston is the respected author of a long list of sci-fi novels heavy on intrigue.
This novel begins as Tom Broadbent witnesses the murder of a paleontologist searching for fossils in a remote New Mexico Canyon. The dying scientist gives Tom his journals and exacts a promise to deliver it to his daughter and no one else, especially not the police. The notebook is filled with a mysterious code. No one is sure what it means, but it must be very valuable if it's worth killing for. 
Teaming up with a state police officer and a former CIA agent turned monk-in-training, the adventure begins. What is the mysterious treasure in the paleontologists notebook, and how do they decipher the code which will lead them there?
The villain is a deeply unsettling man named Maddox. He's the one who pulled the trigger, murdering the poor paleontologist, and the loss of his notes is an error which must be remedied at once. Maddox is brutal, patient, and utterly without compassion or mercy.
The scientist's prize (I'm not giving away the story here) is a perfectly preserved Tyrannosaur mummy, complete with skin, muscles, and internal organs. It's a priceless museum find, and highly prized by private collectors willing to employ unscrupulous agents like Maddox in its pursuit.
Preston offers just the right mix: there's information about dinosaurs, but it doesn't get too technical, and lots of code and computer hacking for the techno-junkies. There are a few interesting chapters that take place while the dinosaur in question is still alive, during the late Cretaceous. All this is wrapped in an exciting package loaded with action and suspense.
Best of all, the story doesn't take long to warm up: you'll find yourself engaged during the first chapter. The hero resembles Indiana Jones somewhat, and finds himself on a search for hidden treasure just as fraught with peril.
It's hard to top Tyrannosaur Canyon for thrills. All the elements of a great adventure story are represented, including a satisfying surprise ending. This is an ideal book if you're looking for an interesting diversion without too much unwanted depth.
Dinosaurs and psycho-killers are a deadly combination.

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