How refreshing to read a thriller without the excessive gore, foul language, and thinly disguised porn. Crichton is in top form in this one, a story based on real-life adventures into the Badlands of Montana and the Dakotas by two paleontologists in the late 1800s. Marsh and Cope were historical figures who made great fossil discoveries, including the first brontosaurus, but whose lives were marred by their vicious competition and slanderous attacks on each other.
The protagonist in this tale is William Johnson, a fictitious student at Yale, who begins as a dissolute layabout of questionable character. He makes an unwise bet with a rival student and then must follow through by accompanying Marsh on his summer expedition west. Needless to say, the trip is filled with excitement and surprises. Crichton is at his best when he combines history, science, and good story-telling. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.