Ansel Phoenix makes her living drawing dinosaurs for magazines, books, and museum displays. One morning, digging with students out in the field, she unearths the body of colleague and ex-lover Nick Capos. Shocked and grieved over the murder, Ansel is also distraught on a professional level. As president of the Pangaea Society, an esteemed paleontology organization to which the murdered botanist also belonged, Ansel must fight to preserve the society's reputation when unsavory facts about its scientists--dead and alive--are revealed.
Not trusting the Big Toe police who've an axe to grind with her father, Ansel decides to investigate what Capos had been doing during the last few months of his life and soon suspects he was working on a secret project worth killing for. Her list of possible suspects grows by the hour as someone starts stalking her across the Montana landscape. This master predator will stop at nothing to keep her from discovering...what? Why is Nick's fossil collection missing and why had he developed a recent interest in Baltic amber?
Ansel must also deal with the cultural challenges of her own half-Anglo, half-Blackfoot heritage, her ranching family, and the changes threatening their rural community while using her intuitive fossil-sleuthing skills to solve more than one Mesozoic mystery.
Sometimes it seems as if there's almost too much meat on Gentry's debut, a juicy Montana mystery introducing Ansel Phoenix, who draws dinosaurs for a living. To her Indian heritage (she's half-Blackfoot), Ansel adds artistic skills and scientific knowledge plus professional standing as president of the Pangaea Society, "a non-profit, community-based organization devoted to the study of fossils." A traumatic childhood incident has left Ansel sensitive to slights over her Indian blood but proud of her heritage. On a fossil-hunting field trip with a group of students, Ansel finds the grave of a recently murdered colleague and former lover, Nick Capos. Unwilling to reveal her past involvement and distrustful of the police, Ansel decides on her own to try to solve Capos's murder. The author grounds the story in plenty of science (nothing too complicated) and Native American culture and lore. As Ansel learns more about the victim, she also begins uncovering disquieting facts about other members of the Pangaea Society. Her unwelcome investigations lead to warnings, threats and ultimately physical abuse. Gentry's appealing heroine, who gets ample opportunity to display her resourcefulness and fortitude, and the intriguing milieu in which she operates, should ensure both a warm reception and a speedy encore.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Poisoned Pen Press
August 14, 2003
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