cover image Bone Hunter

Bone Hunter

Sarah Andrews. Minotaur Books, $24.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-312-20381-8

Science and detective work should go together naturally. After all, they're both about the pursuit of truth. But aside from medical thrillers, not many writers nowadays embark upon the scientific mystery. Of those who do, Andrews, whose novels feature forensic geologist Em Hansen, has become a leading light. The fifth entry in Andrews's series (after Only Flesh and Bones) rivets both as a crime story and as a discussion of the relationship between science and religion. Em is working as a petroleum geologist when George Dishey, a famous paleontologist, invites her to speak at a conference in Salt Lake City. Flattered, she accepts, although she knows little about his specialty: dinosaurs. Em is Dishey's houseguest when he is savagely murdered, and her status as prime suspect leads her to launch an independent investigation of her host's death. Em is a vulnerable and highly appealing lead, and Andrews shines at showing readers what it's like to be a scientist. Em believes in ""the pleasures of learning""; readers will happily learn alongside her as she finds out about dinosaur fossils. The allure of scientific discovery is strongly felt in this novel, as is the jealously and pettiness of paleontologists engaged in academic back stabbing. Em is attracted to Ray, a police officer assigned to the murder case. Ray is a devout Mormon, and Em wonders about the difference between his religion and her rational scientific beliefs. It's a crisis of conscience for her: can a spiritual life honorably co-exist with a life devoted to science? Andrews provides absorbing discussions of creationism, fossil excavation and the scientific method. Her novel is a suspenseful mystery spiked with dinosaurs, science and religion: what more could readers ask for? Author tour. (Sept.)