Poisoned Pen Press, August 2003, 24.95, 292
A paleoartist uses scientific expertise and a bit of intuition to draw pictures of dinosaurs for museums, book covers and magazines. Ansel Phoenix is one of the best and her work is in demand. Whatever spare time she has is devoted to the Pangaea Society, a non-profit organization devoted to the study of fossils and raising interest, awareness and knowledge of the subject. They bought some land and with a $300,000 bequest they plan to build the Preston Opel Paleohistory center, a storehouse of specimens and research materials pertaining to fossils.
While fossil hunting in a deserted field with three graduate students, Ansel discovers the body of Nick Capos, a former lover and a member of the Pangaea Society. While the police investigate the homicide, Ansel learns that Nick's valuable fossil collection is missing and a man looking for money and the Baltic Amber attacks her in her own studio. She knows nothing about these items. When another member of the Pangaea Society is killed, Ansel intends to find out what is going on before someone else is murdered.
Anyone reading MESOZOIC MURDER will understand why some people become obsessed with fossils and dinosaurs as Christine Gentry makes them come alive for the reader. The mystery itself is well crafted and believable as is the actions of the heroine who stumbles sometimes but makes a lot of progress in a short period of time in discovering who the killer is, but during her investigation trying to stay alive becomes the crux of the matter. Ms. Gentry is a very talented writer who hopefully will write other mysteries starring this feisty protagonist.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner