Yesterday I wrote about memoir. Today, I present the review of a mystery written by Homer Hickam, best known for a memoir, Rocket Boys (Delacorte, 1998), which he expanded into a trilogy with The Coalwood Way (Delacorte, 2000) and Sky of Stone (Delacorte, 2001).
He may not be writing memoir, but he’s still writing what he knows. Hickam is himself an amateur paleontologist, has spent time searching for fossils in Montana, and counts two Tyrannosaurus Rexes among his discoveries.
HICKAM, Homer. The Dinosaur Hunter: A Novel. 311p. St. Martin ’s/Thomas Dunne Bks. 2010. Tr $25.99. ISBN 978-0-312-38378-7. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–Penned by the author of the memoir Rocket Boys (Delacorte, 1998; made into the movie October Sky), The Dinosaur Hunter brings a larger-than-life cast of characters to the Montana back lands. Mike Wire, a Los Angeles detective turned cowboy, works alongside his hard-as-the-land boss Jeanette, who rules Mike and the Square C ranch with a heart of gold. Enter paleontologist Dr “Pick” Pickford with his assistants, the capable Laura and the beautiful Russian Tanya, who are looking for dinosaur bones. The mayor and her husband want some of the action, and the neighbors up the road aren’t whom they seem to be. Bring in the Russian Mob and a pair of teen lovers, throw in the requisite survivalists–a part of Big Country lore and legend–and you have the makings of a great murder mystery in rural Montana . The unpredictable landscape and the painstaking work of an archeological dig are the backdrops for this story about greed, love, the search for truth–and the discovery of a set of dinosaur bones worth millions of dollars. Mike knows and understands the vagaries of the local weather and applies its lessons to his understanding of human behavior. Ever the detective, he’s ready to investigate when things don’t add up. While this book takes its time in dishing out the mystery, there’s something in here for most teens: ranching kids will identify with the physical and cultural landscape, city kids might be fascinated by how rural kids live, and teens with an interest in archaeology will find the descriptions of the archaeological dig informative and fascinating.–Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA