Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tyrannosaur Canyon by Douglas Preston

Tyrannosaur Canyon
Tyrannosaur Canyon takes place in the desert canyons of New Mexico. An old treasure hunter, Stem Winters, makes an amazing find, but is killed on his way back to civilization. A local rancher, Tom Broadbent, comes upon him as he lays dying, and is given a notebook filled with coded numbers, and the dying man's last wish is that it be given to his daughter.

When Broadbent begins to try to identify the dead man, and find his daughter, the killer begins to trail Broadbent, hoping to gain possession of the notebook. At this point, I found out some more back story on Wyman Ford, the hero of Preston's other novel I finished recently, Blasphemy. Ford had been a computer analyst on the payroll of the CIA, when an operation gone horribly wrong resulted in the death of his wife. He walked away from everything and entered a monastery, which is where Broadbent finds him.

He gives Ford the notebook to try to decrypt it, hoping for clues as to the identity and location of the Winter's daughter. Ford uses the laptop in the monastery to crunch the numbers (odd, how many monasteries have internet access?), and though he doesn't find the girl, he does figure out what the treasure is, and finds some clues as to its location.

When Broadbent leaves town to get some more information, the killer attacks and kidnaps his wife, Sally. He takes her to a prison room he's built in an abandoned mine, then demands the notebook from her husband. In the meantime, a dishonest professor who knows about the treasure, seduces a lab assistant at the university into doing some analysis of a part of the treasure he's gotten, somehow (this is never really explained), from Weathers. It is he who has sent the killer to get the notebook.

This one starts well, but comes to a rather unconvincing ending, in my opinion. Some of the scientific background of the thriller was interesting and appeared to be well-researched, however. I think I'm going to have to go back and find some even earlier works of Preston's though, as now I find that Broadbent and his wife have a back story, that was probably told in one of them.

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