I like to browse charity shops in search of amazing books. As I’m a bookseller if not by trade anymore then by something possibly stronger than genetics or space-time, this is not necessarily just a case of being pleased to find an unproofed review copy of the new China Mieville six weeks before it’s meant to come out, since the YMCA clearly don’t check that sort of thing. No, it is not just good books that I am interested in. In fact, I think I’ve possibly passed some sort of event horizon where I no longer care about “good” books because all books are part of the whole sort of general bookish thing and so it’s beyond an investment in my own literary pleasure into an investment in this whole sort of general bookish thing. All books, especially the waifs and strays, are relevant to my interests. Especially, sometimes, the really, really bad ones.*
Which is how I found myself in the aforementioned YMCA shop, West Ealing, idly browsing the racks and happened across a spine that immediately set my ‘this is unlikely to have been nominated for the Booker prize’ senses tingling. ‘TYRANNOSAUR CANYON,’ t’was. I know, with the ambiguous quote at the top of this entry, you’re probably thinking that this book doesn’t sound very amazing at all. After all, if John Grisham wrote Jurassic Park there’d probably be a lot of courtroom drama regarding the massive number of personal injury claims possible if you’ve had your legs ripped off by a velociraptor and it wasn’t your fault and then some coffee-drinking. That, though, is because I’ve deprived you of the rest of the blurb, as in actual fact the book contains-
“A moon rock missing for thirty years…
Five buckets of blood-soaked sand found in a New Mexico canyon…
A scientist with ambition enough to kill…”
BUT WAIT, THAT’S NOT ALL.
“A monk who will redeem the world…”
THE WHOLE WORLD.
“A dark agency with a deadly mission…”
“The greatest scientific discovery of all time”
THAT’S RIGHT, THE ACTUAL GREATEST SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY OF ALL TIME.
I won’t spoiler anyone who for whatever reason hasn’t read this astonishingly brilliant work by the author who brought you ‘The Codex’ but I’ll just link you to this Wikipedia page and casually mention the phrase “Venus particles.”
*I actually find it difficult to think of a book as ‘bad,’ unless it has been written by James Patterson. Then it is bad. Most books are simply ‘esoteric.’