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Carnosaur

Novel by Harry Adam Knight (Australia) 1984.

David Pascal, journalist on the staid Warchester Times, is ever hopeful of finding the usual elusive exclusive that will enable him to move up to a real newspaper in Fleet Street. But nothing ever happens in the quiet town of Warchester... nothing at least until a sudden spate of murders. These are passed off as the work of an escaped Siberian tiger from Sir Penward's nearby private zoo. But Pascal is not satisfied by the story, especially when the only living witness (a young boy) is sure that it wasn't a tiger that ate his mother but a dinosaur, and he investigates further. Once gaining access to Penward's estate by having an affair with Lady Penward, he soon discovers that her husband is breeding real life dinosaurs by gene-splicing DNA from dinosaur fossils into chickens. But when Lady Penward finds that Pascal has used her, she lets all the dinosaurs out of their cages...

Yes, the plot sounds just a tad familiar, doesn't it? But it was another six years before Michael Crichton's best-selling Jurassic Park was published, though to give the man credit, he did write an original screenplay somewhat similar to Jurassic Park in 1981, and his first fiction about genetic engineering was published in 1968 (A Case of Need, under the pseudonym of Jeffery Hudson)! Like the incredibly tacky Slimer, John Brosnan concentrates (on his own this time: this is the only 'HAK' novel to be written solo) on the unfortunate side-effects of genetic engineering; and the science behind it is much more cohesive here. Also, the style is more flowing and the plot less outrageous and more believable. As a result, where Slimer was worthwhile by being fun (and only by being fun) Carnosaur makes the grade by being much more of a accomplished work. But, don't worry, it's still hugely tacky; this one offers just as much of an open ending as its predecessor, with two baby Tyrannosauruses (-sauri?) breaking free from their eggs and taking a bite out of Lady Penward's thigh; but the last line at least isn't quite as cliched as Slimer's ("She knew the nightmare hadn't ended, but only just begun.") Ouch! And at least the very first word of the book isn't in italics! Though Carnosaur the book didn't cash in on Jurassic Park, its film version (under the influence of low budget movie god Roger Corman) certainly did, released the same year (1993) to capitalise on the big budget hype surrounding Steven Spielberg's hugely successful film. There was also a sequel film directed by Louis Morneau in 1995.


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