The Paleontologist by Luke Dumas
10/31/23; 368 pages
The Paleontologist by Luke Dumas is a recommended psychological thriller.
Dr. Simon Nealy has returned to his hometown, Wrexham, Pennsylvania to become the Curator of paleontology at the Hawthorne Museum of Natural History. His sister disappeared when the two were at the museum as children, so many complicated emotions surround his return. The museum itself is a crumbling ruin and closed due to the pandemic lockdown so no income is coming in. As Simon tries to acclimate to his new positions and set the paleontology department into some sort of order, it seems there is some supernatural element or creature loose in the museum. Either he is loosing his mind or something else is going on and Simon must try to find out the answer.
The characters are fully realized and they all are portrayed as unique individuals with strengths and flaws. The backstory of Simon and the traumatic experiences he has gone through immediately makes him a sympathetic character.
The quality of the writing is excellent and Dumas does a credible job including the scientific information in the plot. With initial comparisons to Preston and Child's Relic, I had high hopes for The Paleontologist. I stuck with it based on the pluses: dinosaur bones, a creepy museum, and a childhood trauma tied into the museum. Admittedly, the rough spots right at the start were very off-putting with Covid and masking at the forefront of the entire novel. (Authors, please leave this out of novels.) Then something was mentioned when it would have been better to simply provide the facts with a nod to the readers intelligence to figure it out. As the narrative continued it was soon clear that there were simply too many scattered subplots and one of them required an inordinate about of suspension of disbelief for this reader. It is enjoyable, but not the page-turner I was hoping for.