Cryptozoica by Mark Ellis (2010)

CrytpoSmallCover blurb

Cryptozoica is not your daddy’s Jurassic Park or your granddaddy’s Lost World!

A non-human language spoken by Biblical patriarchs… coded secrets scribbled in the suppressed logbook of Charles Darwin… an elite society of scholars dedicated to preventing humankind from learning that life’s true origins may lie within a bizarre ecosystem on a forgotten island christened… Cryptozoica.

From novelist Mark Ellis, the writer of Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze and the creator of the best-selling Outlanders series, comes Cryptozoica, a tale that combines history and speculative science with blazing action.

When ex-military officers “Tombstone” Jack Kavanaugh and his partner Augustus Crowe gamble their lives to lead a pair of cynical scientists deep into the tropical cauldron of Big Tamtung, they plunge headlong into the heart of the greatest discovery of all time – and into a bloody confrontation with a misshapen madman who lusts after a miracle but will settle for murder.

On the island christened Cryptozoica the past has not stopped breathing — and can still eat you alive.

* Above cover art by Jeff Slemon

My thoughts

“Oh my God!” Bob said. “We found a lost world of dinosaurs!”

“I know!” Larry replied. “We’ll be famous!”

“OK, we’ve got to call someone important, like the U.N. or National Geographic Society,” Bob continued. “You know, have them come in, set up wildlife sanctuary, study the animals…”

“Hold on!” Larry interjected. “I have an even better idea! Let’s call the Chinese mob! They’ll bring in lots of money and hookers and drugs! It’ll be great!”

“Wait, what?!” Bob said.

Of course, there are no characters called Larry and Bob to be found in the pages of Cryptozoica, and the above conversation took place only in my imagination. But it sums up the situation we find ourselves in at the beginning of the book, where the protagonists have discovered a lost world only to sell the information to the Chinese mob, which have put up the funds to turn the island into Jurassic Park, except with prostitutes.

Cryptozoica is, in fact, a cross between Jurassic Park and violent, pulp adventure series like Mack Bolan. It is full of a cast of generally sleazy characters who, after a lengthy setup, find themselves stranded on the lost world and must solve its secrets to survive. That said, it is actually a pretty fun work with some well-written action scenes. The largest flaw comes during the final act, when the plot goes off the rails to delve into wacky conspiracies involving reptoids.

Should you pick this one up? Well, if you like your men to be manly men and your women able to decapitate charging raptors with a samurai sword, then give it a try. If you have a low tolerance for cheese, best skip this one.

Trivia

  • As stated on the blurb, Mark Ellis is best known as the creator of the Outlanders series, which is set in a post-apocalyptic future. According to Wikipedia, the series also invokes conspiracy theories involving reptile people.
  • Cyptozoica is illustrated by artist Jeff Slemons. Some samples of his work can be seen on the book’s website, cryptozoica.com
  • The book should not be confused with the 1967 Brian Aldiss novel Cryptozoic!

Reviews

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