Among the canyons of New Mexico professional fossil hunter Stem Weathers is murdered. With hisdying breath he gifts a notebook to a passerby, sending him to Weather's estranged daughterwith a message. Frustrated, a shadowy assassin turns his attention to the new bearerof the precious notebook that documents the greatest paleontological find in Earth'shistory.Tyrannosaur Canyon
is a paleontology-based thriller by Douglas Preston
first published in 2003.
This novel provides examples of:
- Cool Car: Tom Broadbent's classically restored 1957 Chevy pickup.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Cited and strongly averted by Maddox. Instead of networking in prison to advance his criminal career, he used his contacts to make a dating site called Hard Time for women seeking convicts. He comments in other places that if he had known how easy it was to make money legitimately, he never would have bothered with crime.
- Darkness Equals Death: Corvus' last scene. Played with in that the victim fled into the dark room for safety and potential ambush, not counting on the hunter to be better equipped and experienced in just such a situation.
- Diabolical Mastermind: How Corvus styles himself, but he's a relatively anemic example.
- Faux Action Girl: Sally Broadbent. She teaches horsemanship and is supposedly a crack shot; she even reassures her husband that she'll be fine if left alone for a weekend. Then she's captured without much fuss, bungles an escape attempt, and spends the rest of the story being present while Tom and Ford save the day.
- Honor Before Reason: Broadbent promises to fulfill Weathers' Last Request of delivering Weathers' notebook, even though it's not his responsibility and doing so places his friends and family in danger. He could just hand the notebook over to the police for delivery at any point; worse, in delivering it he's a potential accessory to grand theft since the fossil is on public land.
- I Gave My Word: See Honor Before Reason above.
- I Surrender, Suckers: Ford to Masago.
- Last Request: Weathers to Broadbent, asking him to deliver the notebook to Weathers' daughter.
- Noodle Incident: Honduras. We know Broadbent's father died and Sally handled a firearm well, but no one wants to talk about it.
- One Bullet Left: The weapon Broadbent steals only comes with a single round. Averted; the shot is downplayed and Broadbent has to menace The Dragon with an empty gun.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Broadbent is shot in the face at point-blank range and is only momentarily unconscious for it, though it's suggested there may be a concussion and bone creasing.
- Outside-Context Villain
- In a story about an unscrupulous museum curator poaching the claim of a fossil hunter, it's a bit unexpected when a US military black-ops detachment shows up in the fourth act.
- Even more so, the tyrannosaurus was killed not in combat nor in old age, but by extraterrestrial forces.
- Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: In this case, an alien bacteria that may have been an engineered bioweapon.
- Police Are Useless: Left and right.
- Detective Lieutenant Willer disbelieves Broadbent's account of Weathers' murder after a cursory search until Broadbent personally uncovers incontrovertible evidence.
- The same police fail to follow up on the investigation quickly, allowing evidence to degrade.
- Willer continues to follow Broadbent as a person of interest and intercepts his vehicle while Broadbent is negotiating for a hostage exchange.
- Finally, Willer is rendered impotent by the appearance of federal forces right before he might have been useful in the desert.
- Broadbent himself seems to believe this when he doesn't contact the police in the wake of Sally's kidnapping.
- Red Herring: Weathers asks Broadbent to deliver his notebook to his daughter Robbie in the first few pages. Broadbent spends the rest of the story chasing the notebook, only delivering it to Robbie in the last few pages once the entire plot is resolved.
- Self-Made Man: Broadbent's family was wealthy, but he turned his back on the family connections to start his own business as a veterinarian. He's known to be quite wealthy but hasn't touched his inheritance because he wants to make his own money.
- Steel Ear Drums: Maddox fires multiple times in the close quarters of the cave sequence with no apparent ill effects. When another character is shot in the face point-blank, the biggest concern is a concussion rather than permanent hearing loss.
- The Dragon: Weed Maddox. Ex-con (thanks to Corvus) with military training, sociopathic tendencies, and tactical ruthlessness. Also he runs a dating website.
- The Lab Rat: Melodie Crookshank, who is literally only depicted working in her basement lab on heavy science-y stuff.
- Thirsty Desert: The mesas of New Mexico. Thirst becomes a real, immediate concern for several characters through the later parts of the book.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Almost any scene involving Melodie Crookshank will be heavy on technical terminology and light on explanation. Justified since she's only speaking to herself or other professionals who already understand, but difficult for average readers.
- Weapon for Intimidation: Biler's stolen .22, after the one bullet is fired.