The Blog's Mission

Wikipedia defines a book review as: “a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review can be a primary source opinion piece, summary review or scholarly review”. My mission is to provide the reader with my thoughts on the author’s work whether it’s good, bad, or ugly. I read all genres of books, so some of the reviews may be on hard to find books, or currently out of print. All of my reviews will also be available on I will write a comment section at the end of each review to provide the reader with some little known facts about the author, or the subject of the book. Every now and then, I’ve had an author email me concerning the reading and reviewing of their work. If an author wants to contact me, you can email me at I would be glad to read, review and comment on any nascent, or experienced writer’s books. If warranted, I like to add a little comedy to accent my reviews, so enjoy!
Thanks, Rick O.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Knowing that the literary world is full of ghost writers, it’s almost unfathomable to believe that another new Michael Crichton novel has been published...nine years after his death. I read his Pirate Latitudes in 2009, one year after he died. But there was always talk about him writing a novel about pirates, and since they found the completed manuscript on one of his computers...I had to reckon that it was genuine. Then another novel, Micro, was published in 2011. This novel was said to be one-third done and finished by author Richard Preston. Okay that seems plausible. Now, Dragon Teeth is published in 2017. Are there more novels to be discovered? Or is this the last one? His fifth and last wife, Sherri Crichton, says in the afterword (page 292), “Honoring Michael’s legacy has been my mission ever since he passed away. Through the creation of his archives, I quickly realized that it was possible to trace the birth of Dragon Teeth to a 1974 letter to the curator of vertebrate paleontology of the American Museum of Natural History. After reading the manuscript, I could only describe Dragon Teeth as 'pure Crichton.' It has Michael’s voice, and his love of history, research, and science all dynamically woven into this epic tale.” Well, I wouldn’t call this novel epic, although I wouldn’t completely disagree with Sherri Crichton that he wrote it either, but I reserve my almost tongue-in-cheek thoughts. There are traces of the author’s genius throughout the novel and, as we all know, he is the author of Jurassic Park. I guess my major problem is trusting that the novel is 100% Crichton since nine years have passed since Michael died. Why did it take so long to publish this novel?

The novel, itself, is historical fiction delineating an episode (fictional) during the actual Bone Wars (1877-1892) between leading American paleontologists Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope. History will tell you that when the war was over...they were both broke and out of funds. Anyway, our protagonist (fictional) is a eighteen year old Yale college student, William Johnson. His father, Silas, is a rich Philadelphia shipbuilder. William always seems to be in trouble in school, usually because he and his arch-rival, Harold Hannibal Marlin (another rich boy), “competed in every arena - in the classroom, on the playing-field, in the undergraduate pranks of the night.” They argued incessantly, always taking the opposing view from the other. One day, William lies to Harold that he is going to go west with Professor Marsh. “I am going with Professor Marsh. He takes a group of students with him each summer.” Harold says,”What? Fat old Marsh? The bone professor?”, William says,“That’s right.” Harold says, "You’ve never laid eyes on Professor Marsh, and you’ll never go with him.” The boys bet a thousand dollars on whether he will go or will not go. Now the pressure is on William to get on the professor’s team. When William goes to see the professor, he is stunned when Marsh says, “Sorry. Too late. Positions all filled.” The professor says to William, “If you wanted to come you should have answered the advertisement last week. Everyone else did. Now we have selected everyone except - You’re not, by any chance, a photographer?” William fibs, “Yes, sir, I am! I am indeed.” The story is off and running, as William hires a local photographer to give him twenty lessons “for the outrageous sum of fifty dollars.”  

The story dragged a bit at times (not typical of a Crichton novel) and had some useless paragraphs, such as, when William meets Robert Louis Stevenson on the train heading west. Stevenson tells William that he is going to California to meet the woman he loves. Historically, this is correct, but the wrong year. And why would Wyatt and Morgan Earp be active characters in this novel? And what was the brief appearance of Brigham Young all about? Even though Young has nothing to do with this novel, we find that he is a “gracious man, gentle and calculating. For forty years, the Mormons were hounded and persecuted in every state of the Union; now they make their own state, and persecute the Gentiles in turn.” Calamity Jane also makes a very brief appearance in not such a good light, “Calamity Jane was so masculine she often wore a soldier’s uniform and traveled undetected with the boys in blue, giving them service in the field (as a harlot); she had gone with Custer’s 7th Cavalry on more than one occasion.” I’m only bringing up these lowlights, because I don’t remember Crichton using these diversion tactics before. I do recommend reading this novel even though it’s not his best (if it is his...ouch).

RATING: 3 out of 5 stars

Comment: Suspicion has surrounded many authors after their deaths. Harper Lee (passed away in 2016) had that albatross around her neck all her life. First, she was accused of not writing her bestseller, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960). Many people say her friend Truman Capote wrote Mockingbird. Then 55 years later, a second novel was found and published (Go Set A Watchman, see my review of 2/23/2016). It was deemed poorly written compared to Mockingbird, giving credence to the Truman Capote theory. But since her death (shortly after the publication of Go Set A Watchman), most literary people believe that it was a first draft of Mockingbird.

And how about the great German writer, Franz Kafka? None of his novels were published until after death. While he was alive, he did have some of his work published in magazines, but no novels. His literary executor, Max Brod, was supposed to burn his manuscripts upon Franz’s death. He did not. He published all his works, including his famous The Metamorphosis, The Trial and The Castle. Could a ghost writer have slipped a phony into the mix? Possibly, but not likely.

Finally, getting back to Michael Crichton’s novel, I found it interesting that it took so long for people to believe that dinosaurs existed. “This was certainly still so in 1876. Much earlier in the century, Thomas Jefferson had carefully concealed his own view that fossils represented extinct creatures. In Jefferson’s day, public espousal of belief in extinction was considered heresy. Attitudes had since changed in many places, but not everywhere. It was still controversial to espouse evolution in certain parts of the United States.”    

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