Geoscience factor: Paleontology
Bonus science: Planets & space
Spoiler: There is a Tyrannosaurus rex in Tyrannosaur Canyon.
From an Apollo moon landing to desert canyon landscapes, Tyrannosaur Canyon introduces a variety of places and people that are all linked by a treasure in New Mexico.
Douglas Preston has four heroes in Tyrannosaur Canyon, all of whom are the strongest and the smartest, and who are ultimately the voice of reason. The heroes are contrasted to the blundering, blustery villains as well as to the blundering, blustery misguided Lawmen, who become bad guys by default because they meddle and make things worse for the Handsome Veterinarian and the Resourceful, Beautiful Horse Trainer. The villains, a Mr.Prison-Lonely-Heart and a Cutthroat Museum Curator, have interesting back stories and although Preston delves with sympathy into their lives, the bad guys’ actions serve to make our protagonists’ more heroic.
And here we see Preston using several ready-made devices to make his heroes look good. Dumbing down antagonists is the first strategy. The second strategy is granting auras of brilliance to genius scientists who allude to high-level programs or scientific terms that no one else can fully understand. The brilliant Lab Technician makes brilliant discoveries and the brilliant Code-Cracker cracks the code. Yet determined scientists can also exhibit the single-minded flaws of idiots, tempting the reader to yell at a thin, pulpy page, “don’t pour that chemical there!” or “look behind you!”
The Tyrannosaurus rex stands out as a remarkable character, neither good nor bad. T-rex simply exists and has a completely different point of view from the humans searching for her. I didn’t agree with all of Preston’s dinosaur speculation, but he was thorough in analyzing T-rex down to her bones and brain chemistry.
This was an enjoyable adventure that really picked up towards the last half of the book. Preston did his research and provided realistic details in unlikely places, all while building mystery and suspense with a surprise ending.
I would recommend this book, and notwithstanding previous crushed expectations, I plan on reading more of Preston’s works, fiction and nonfiction.