cover image The Paleontologist

The Paleontologist

Luke Dumas. Atria, $17.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-668018-26-2

Well-rendered characters and an original premise once again distinguish Dumas’s unnerving second thriller (after 2022’s A History of Fear). When Simon Nealy was 10 years old, he and his six-year-old half sister, Morgan Jenks, visited the Hawthorne Museum of Natural History in Wrexham, Pa., by themselves. Their happy excursion turned into a nightmare when Morgan vanished from the insect hall while Simon checked out the dinosaur collection. Morgan was never found, and their drug-addicted mother’s subsequent grief and negligence led to Simon being put in the care of an aunt in Chicago. Over the ensuing decades, he became a successful paleontologist, rising to the position of associate curator of dinosaurs at Chicago’s Field Museum. After his aunt dies, Simon accepts the position of director of paleontology at the Hawthorne and returns to Wrexham in an attempt to solve Morgan’s disappearance. Once there, he both revives old horrors and uncovers new ones, as he comes to fear the Hawthorne may be haunted by sinister supernatural forces. Dumas fully realizes his characters (even Simon’s mother gets sympathy for her vices ), making it easier to swallow the plotline’s more outré elements. Fans of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Relic will relish this suspenseful and moving page-turner. Agent: Maria Whelan, InkWell Management. (Oct.)