Unrewarding fossil poaching in Montana and Utah.
Montana’s Big Toe Natural History Museum is in big trouble. Someone has tried to make off with its prize possession, the Allosaurus tracks in its backyard, and died when his equipment blew up. Special Agent Broderick, working with the Bureau of Land Management, wants to invalidate the museum’s lease and ship the tracks to Utah. But, first, Chief Flynn and Detective Reid Dorbandt of the sheriff’s office step in to deal with the crime. Then along come FBI agents and consultants Overbridge, Standback and LaPierre, who insist they have jurisdiction because the crime resembles two other fossil poachings involving transportation across state lines. Amerind paleoartist Ansel Phoenix, anxious to keep the Big Toe Museum open and its specimens intact, agrees to help the FBI mount a sting operation that thrusts her into the path of a crooked antiquities dealer, drug suppliers and couriers, an old nemesis, Rusty Flynn, who tried to drown her when she was five, and assorted tricksters with shady motives and bureaucratic allegiances. Torn between love for Dorbandt and lust for Standback, Ansel must weather a helicopter crash, a dust storm, radium emissions and the near-death of her father before all quiets down in Big Toe.
An overloaded plot, prose as desiccated as those dinosaur bones, and a heroine (Mesozoic Murder, 2003) more imperiled than Pauline.