Dragon’s Teeth is based on the real life adventures and misadventures of two rival paleontologists, Othniel Marsh and Edward Cope, as they scoured the wild west collecting fossils and making some of the earliest discoveries about dinosaurs.
But that’s about all the science you get in this novel, unlike most of Crichton’s science-based stories. This novel is really a Western. We follow the Yale undergraduate William Johnson as he accompanies Prof. Marsh on his 1876 expedition, only to get caught up in Indian wars, outlaw shootouts, dancehall girls, stampedes, and hair-raising stagecoach rides.
As in the most interesting historical fiction, Crichton blends fictional characters with meticulously researched real-life characters. In this novel, Wyatt Earp plays a big role, along with his brother Morgan, and we get cameos of General Custer, Wild Bill Hickok, and Calamity Jane. We also get a lively portrait of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Deadwood, South Dakota.
Beyond that, what makes the novel so enjoyable are the twists and turns and surprises in the plot. Crichton employs the classic tale-spinner technique, which goes back to Spenser, of ending virtually every chapter with a cliffhanger or a hint of what is about to happen, so that readers are propelled through the book, not wanting to put it down.
The novel does not have a lot of redeeming social value, but it is extremely entertaining, perfect for the beach or a lazy summer day.
After the jump, you can read the back cover description, which is unusually apt, and click to Amazon to buy it. You will thank me later.
Do any of you have other suggestions for light summertime reading?
From the Back CoverNOT SINCE JURASSIC PARK HAS DIGGING UP THE PAST BEEN SO DANGEROUS
The legendary number one New York Times bestselling author returns to the world of paleontology in this recently discovered novel—a thrilling adventure set in the Wild West during the golden age of fossil hunting.
The year is 1876. Warring Indian tribes still populate America’s western territories, even as lawless gold-rush towns begin to mark the landscape. While the civilized East debates Mr. Darwin’s heretical new theory called evolution, two monomaniacal paleontologists pillage the Wild West, hunting for dinosaur fossils while surveilling, deceiving, and sabotaging each other in a rivalry that will come to be known as the Bone Wars.
Into this treacherous territory plunges the arrogant and entitled William Johnson, a Yale student with more privilege than sense. Determined to survive a summer in the West to win a bet against his archrival, William has joined world-renowned paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh on his latest expedition. But when the paranoid and secretive Marsh becomes convinced that William is spying for his nemesis, Edward Drinker Cope, he abandons him in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a locus of crime and vice.
His honor at stake, William joins forces with Cope and soon stumbles upon a discovery of historic proportions. With this extraordinary treasure, however, comes exceptional danger, and William’s newfound resilience will be tested in his struggle to protect his cache from some of the West’s most notorious and wily characters.