by Christine Gentry
Category: Fiction / Mystery
330 pages; ISBN: 1-59058-150-4
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Kevin Tipple
Introduced in “Mesozoic Murder,” Ansel Phoenix returns and finds herself once again in the middle of a law enforcement investigation. This time, a badly burned body has been found hanging from her multi-foot high Allosaurus statue outside the local museum on Bureau of Land Management land. Apparently, a thief was trying to cut out dinosaur tracks from the stone and the machine exploded. The resulting fireball not only killed the thief but also threw him high into the air and into the gaping jaws of her statue.
In the aftermath, not only is she unable to repair the damage but also the museum is closed indefinitely while various law enforcement fight turf battles over who will handle the case. That is until a small task force arrives, led by Special Agent Outerbridge of the FBI who claims immediate and total jurisdiction over everything. This case fits a pattern of dinosaur bone thefts across several Western states that seem to be feeding the growing market for dinosaur bones by rich collectors who don’t care about the legality of ownership. With the BLM threatening to move the tracks permanently to protect them as well as hurting the economic livelihood of the town by doing so and closing the museum, Ansel agrees to use her Indian heritage and her Dinosaur expertise to assist the FBI and their planned sting of the poachers.
Combining some science concerning Dinosaurs and their history as well as her obvious love for the Montana countryside, the author has created a very enjoyable and worthy sequel. Ansel Phoenix is a strong, talented woman yet utterly realistically drawn as she ponders the choices she must make, romantic and otherwise, as the novel moves forward. At the same time, this work features an intriguing cast of supporting characters, some familiar and many new that are all realistically drawn and never once play on stereotypes.
The complexity of the characters is in direct balance to the complexity of the story. Once it seems clear that things are going a certain way, the author deftly performs a slight of hand and shifts the focus of the work elsewhere. Appearances are deceiving and just like in real life, Ansel begins to wonder whom she can really trust. The resulting violent showdown in the badlands of Montana creates quite a thrill ride for the reader and caps off a very good book.
By Christine Gentry
Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN # 1-59058-150-4
This review in its entirety previously appeared online at the Blue Iris Journal Blog.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2005