The Paleontologist

S. & S. Audio. Oct. 2023. 11:38 hrs. ISBN 9781797172729. $23.99. HORROR
Dumas follows his debut, A History of Fear, with another inventive supernatural thriller featuring an engaging protagonist. After the pandemic upends his professional and personal life, paleontologist Simon Nealy returns to his Pennsylvania hometown to work for the Hawthorne Museum of Natural History. Taking quite a step down from his former position at Chicago’s Field Museum, Simon is drawn to the Hawthorne, not by pleasant childhood memories but because it was the place from which his six-year-old sister vanished while he was baby-sitting. Simon has never forgiven himself for Morgan’s abduction, although he acknowledges that he was just a child at the time and his mother should have never given him the responsibility of watching Morgan. With understated, slow-burning intensity, narrator Graham Halstead captures the frenzy of Simon’s grief-driven investigation and the menacing atmosphere of the museum, still shuttered because of the pandemic. He expertly delivers the paleontological information woven into the novel, allowing the narrative to flow effortlessly, even when supernatural elements ratchet up the drama.
VERDICT Fans of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s “Pendergast” series should especially enjoy Dumas’s intriguing blend of supernatural and psychological horror, with its sharp prose, well-drawn characters, and just the right amount of humor and social commentary.
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