Extinction Chronicles - Pandora's Box
by E. Thomas Palmer

"The intellect needed to create it must have been staggering."

Paleontologists Jonathan and Ellen Crenshaw live successful lives, secure in their academic careers and annual routines. They supervise a dig for dinosaur remains with Jonathan's students in South Dakota's Badlands every summer. This year, they recruit Steve, their most capable and career-worthy grad student as lead supervisor, leaving them free to search for their own site. The couple soon makes an amazing but alarming discovery in a concealed cave—a metal box clearly crafted with advanced technology encased in sixty-five-million-year-old sedimentary rock. The students make their own paradigm-breaking discovery as they excavate the fossil remains of a raptor nursery nearby.

As the excitement at both sites builds, Steve juggles his time between the two after the Crenshaws realize they need help to remove the mysterious box and cover their tracks. The artifact will be of interest to the authorities, and they'd rather not relinquish the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to research it fully. The box is connected to either extraterrestrials, dinosaurs, or both. The implications are earth-shattering, especially when U.S. military intelligence begins to poke around, mistakenly thinking they're in pursuit of terrorists.

Metaphorically and practically speaking, the box becomes an engaging symbol and focal point for the characters as it alters their understanding of the world and upends their personal lives. The exciting, high-concept story arc and plot lines feel a bit buried at times in the strata of a writing style that slows what could be a faster-paced story. However, patient readers will enjoy the author's overall craft and imagination in this literary excavation adventure. The author's characters have emotional depth, and Palmer makes their inner thoughts and motivations clear to the reader. This increases the tension as relationship conflicts simmer under the larger story's surface that will fascinate fans of sci-fi thrillers.

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