Preston, Douglas. Tyrannosaur Canyon. Tom Doherty Associates, 365 p.

Part science fiction, mostly thriller, Preston takes several pages out of Michael Crichton's book in crafting this story of dinosaurs, meteorites, and alien life.

New Mexico veterinarian Tom Broadbent finds a dying man in the desert. The man had been shot and was barely clinging to life. Just before he dies, the man gives Broadbent a notebook and begs him to take it to his daughter. Broadbent gives his word and pledges not to tell the police about the notebook.

So begins this fast-moving story. Soon Broadbent is plunged into a high-stakes game of cat and mouse with a hired killer as he tries to solve the mystery of the notebook and the murdered man's identity. He manages to engage the help of monk at a remote desert monastery. Wyman Ford recently arrived at the monastery after a tumultuous career in the CIA. He can't resist the mysterious notebook and soon is deeply involved in the hunt for the notebook's secret.

Preston brings a certain amount of verve to the Crichton formula and he has created sympathetic protagonists in Broadbent and Ford. But the books suffers from the formula's flaws, too. The characters tend to be two dimensional, either very bad or very good. In books like this, plot is everything, with much of action flowing from a slim bit of scientific fact. In this case, it's not bad. It's just not very memorable either.


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