Certain authors never fail to meet or exceed my expectations. Chief
among them are New York Times bestselling author Douglas
Preston (solo or with Lincoln Child), who consistently delivers a
lively, swift-paced tale that blurs science and fiction. Past
novels like THE CODEX, THE CABINET OF CURIOSITIES and RELIC have
all been nail-biters of the first degree --- tales propelled by
skilled writing, intriguing facts and imaginative plots. Preston is
no stranger to nonfiction, with an impressive list of books under
his belt, and the time and effort he applies to nonfiction is
equally applied in his fiction pieces. In TYRANNOSAUR CANYON,
Preston once again succeeds in providing thrill after thrill, by
combining painstaking research with darn good storytelling.
TYRANNOSAUR CANYON opens with a mysterious moonscape rock discovery
that is quickly closeted away by authorities, for unknown reasons.
Thirty years later, riding in the night desert, New Mexico vet Tom
Broadbent (who we first met in Preston's THE CODEX) stumbles by
chance on the failing body of Stem Weathers, recently shot by a
hired assassin and lying in blood-stained sand. Moments before his
death, Weathers entrusts the stranger Broadbent with a well-worn
notebook, and whispers a final plea that Broadbent deliver the book
to his estranged daughter. Broadbent, with few more details than
that, promises to do so, and thus begins his family's embroilment
in a colossal conflict he never could have foreseen when he set out
for his desert ride.
What exactly populates the pages of the tattered treasured
notebook? Numbers, and lots of them. It doesn't take long to
surmise that the figures and computations relate to the location of
a paleontological discovery of significant and astronomical scale:
a fully formed fossil of a Tyrannosaurus rex that may very well
hold the long-sought-after and long-speculated answers to what
caused the large scale extinction of dinosaurs.
Needless to say, it takes even less time to determine that this is
an object of value historically, scientifically and monetarily.
And, you guessed it, probably the cause of Stem Weather's demise.
Unsuspecting Broadbent finds himself in the middle of a battle to
own the notebook, the T Rex, and even more. A secret government
agency and a corrupt international scientist are pitted against
each other in a race to capture all. And in a plot element that
will leave you questioning all that you've ever learned about the
Cretaceous period as well as all that you hope for the future,
Preston hinges the fate of all humanity on what happens next to the
Unflagging action and unanswered questions couple to keep the pages
turning, yet the term "thriller" fails to adequately describe
TYRANNOSAUR CANYON. I searched for a dinosaur-sized descriptor to
fit the bill, and found nothing. Preston has exceeded all my
expectations and set a new bar for thriller writers.
Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on January 24, 2011