book review, thriller

Dinosaur Lake by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Last year I couldn’t get enough of books about Bigfoot, but this year I’m hankering after dinosaurs.

Henry Shore, retired New York City cop, is chief ranger at Crater Lake park in Oregon. When volcanic activity reveals dinosaur bones in the park, paleontologist Justin Maltin arrives to study the find. Little do the two men realize they are about to be thrown into a fight for their lives when a living dinosaur starts hunting tasty humans in the park.

This book seemed to have it all. Great concept, great setting and great cover. I enjoyed the start of the novel, and was looking forward to an entertaining read, but unfortunately things started to go wrong.

First of all, the action started to take place off page, being told in narration. When the scenes revealed the on going plot and character development through action and dialogue, the book was great. However, increasingly long passages were reduced to narrative telling, repetition and Henry’s musings, and my interest started to wain.

With a dinosaur book I’m prepared to stretch my willing suspension of disbelief, but I do expect some effort from the author to make the story plausible. I prefer my dinosaurs to behave like animals, but if they’re going to be monsters I want some cool monster action.

The dinosaur in this book falls into the monster category, full of constant roaring and eating. The characters often comment on how intelligent the creature is, but I saw no evidence of it. It’s actions didn’t make sense. It’s kills were skipped over, when I really wanted them to be described. Overall, it was very disappointing.

The author gave me no olive branch to help reconcile how a dinosaur was supposed to hatch from an egg after so many millennia, how it reached fifty feet so quickly, why it picked at eating people rather than swallowing them whole and never left spoor, how it was described as a marine reptile but could run around on land.

The human characters were equally disappointing. Despite great potential, any characters who disagreed with Henry’s world view were considered evil, obsessed or stupid. Henry kept details about the dinosaur bones and the deaths of many people secret to avoid bringing people to the park. He considered the dinosaur evil, when it was a hungry animal. The local police were never contacted despite so many deaths. The army weren’t called in. The characters were divided into those who wanted to kill the beast (the heroes) and those who wanted to capture it for a zoo (the villains). At no point did anyone want to procure it’s body for dissection or study its behavior in its natural habitat. When experts were brought in to hunt it, they consisted of a former FBI agent and a submersible team. No hunters, animal trackers or behaviorists, who might know what they’re doing and you’d expect a park full of predators to be used to tracking and relocating animals.

There were also some questionable elements where Henry weirdly fat shamed his daughter, and the female characters were treated in such a patronizing manner by the male characters.

I award Dinosaur Lake

Dinosaur Lake is available for free as an ebook and $17.99 print book on Amazon.

11 thoughts on “Dinosaur Lake by Kathryn Meyer Griffith”

  1. I read this one. I turned a blind eye to some of the things you mentioned simply because the book is a few years old, and I think attitudes toward menacing, new species have changed as well as attitudes towards women characters. However, I agree with you that it needed more monster action. The exciting parts were too few and far between because the reader is stuck inside Henry’s head for long stretches.

    Overall, I liked the book (think I gave it 3 stars), but I think it would have been a better story if the rumination and chatter were condensed.

    Liked by 1 person

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