Tyrannosaur Canyon by Douglas Preston

Tyrannosaur Canyon by Douglas Preston

Aug 09, 2023


"Tyrannosaur Canyon" by Douglas Preston is a riveting blend of paleontology, suspense, and adventure, offering readers a captivating narrative that unearths both prehistoric secrets and modern-day intrigue. Published in 2005, this novel takes readers on a thrilling journey into the wild landscapes of New Mexico, where the remnants of an ancient predator and a dangerous treasure hunt intertwine. In this review, we will explore the strengths of "Tyrannosaur Canyon," including its intricate plot, well-developed characters, and the author's ability to blend science with gripping storytelling.

Intricate Plot:

The central driving force of "Tyrannosaur Canyon" is its intricate and multi-layered plot. The story begins with the discovery of a fossilized dinosaur skeleton in the remote wilds of New Mexico, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to the unearthing of a long-buried secret. The novel masterfully combines the realms of paleontology, geology, and suspense, creating a narrative that seamlessly blends science with thrilling storytelling.

The plot is rife with unexpected twists, enigmatic clues, and a race against time, which keeps readers engaged from start to finish. Douglas Preston's attention to detail and his ability to convey complex scientific concepts in an accessible manner make the story both educational and exciting. As the characters uncover more about the dinosaur fossil, they stumble upon clues that hint at an even more significant revelation, leading to a treasure hunt filled with danger and suspense.

The narrative is carefully structured, with alternating viewpoints that provide insight into the motivations and perspectives of various characters. This multi-layered approach allows readers to see the story from different angles, adding depth to the plot. As the threads of the story converge, readers are taken on a journey that explores not only the mysteries of the prehistoric past but also the moral dilemmas of the present.

Well-Developed Characters:

One of the strengths of "Tyrannosaur Canyon" lies in its well-developed characters. The novel's protagonist, Tom Broadbent, is a retired paleontologist who stumbles upon the dinosaur fossil and becomes embroiled in the intrigue that follows. Broadbent is a relatable and down-to-earth character whose love for paleontology and the pursuit of knowledge drives the story. His transition from a retired academic to an active participant in the treasure hunt adds depth to his character.

Supporting characters, such as Corrie Swanson, a young and determined graduate student, and Walt Quaid, a mysterious and enigmatic figure, contribute to the novel's complexity. Each character has their own motivations, secrets, and emotional struggles, creating a rich tapestry of personalities that enrich the narrative.

The interactions between the characters are authentic and emotionally resonant, allowing readers to connect with their experiences and dilemmas. The relationships that develop as the story unfolds add depth to the character dynamics and create a sense of camaraderie and conflict that drives the plot.

Blend of Science and Adventure:

Douglas Preston adeptly combines scientific expertise with elements of adventure and suspense, resulting in a narrative that is both educational and thrilling. The author's knowledge of paleontology and geology is evident throughout the novel, as he explores the scientific methods and discoveries that underpin the story.

The careful integration of scientific concepts and the depiction of paleontological fieldwork add authenticity to the narrative. The reader gains insight into the meticulous process of unearthing fossils and the excitement of making significant discoveries. Preston's ability to convey the wonder and awe of the natural world, especially the world of dinosaurs, is a testament to his passion for the subject matter.

The adventure and suspense elements of the story are equally compelling. As the characters follow the clues left behind by the fossil's original discoverer, they find themselves in increasingly perilous situations. The novel's exploration of the treasure hunt genre is a nod to classic adventure stories, as the characters navigate treacherous landscapes, decode cryptic messages, and face unexpected challenges.

Themes of Science and Morality:

"Tyrannosaur Canyon" explores significant themes related to science and morality. The novel delves into the ethical dilemmas surrounding the ownership and sale of scientific discoveries, particularly in the field of paleontology. It raises questions about the responsibility of scientists and collectors in preserving and sharing the knowledge of the past.

The narrative also highlights the conflict between the pursuit of knowledge and the desire for wealth and recognition. The characters' motivations and actions are influenced by their respective views on the value of scientific discovery, and the novel prompts readers to consider the moral implications of such decisions.


"Tyrannosaur Canyon" by Douglas Preston is a compelling blend of paleontology, suspense, and adventure. Its intricate plot, well-developed characters, and the seamless integration of science and adventure make it a must-read for fans of scientific mysteries and thrillers. The novel's exploration of the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by scientists and collectors adds depth to the narrative, making it not only an exciting read but also a thought-provoking one.

Preston's passion for paleontology and his ability to convey the wonder of the natural world shine through in this captivating story. If you enjoy tales of scientific discovery, treasure hunts, and the intersection of science and morality, "Tyrannosaur Canyon" is a thrilling journey that will leave you both entertained and enlightened.