The Doctor and the Dinosaurs is the fourth instalment in Mike Resnick’s Weird West series. Doc Halliday, the dentist turned shootist, is dying of TB in a sanitarium when his old acquaintance, the Apache medicine man Geronimo, turns up.
Geronimo extends his life expectancy from about a day to about a year in exchange for his help. Some palaeontologists, Professor Cope and Professor Marsh, are digging for bones in sacred Comanche burial grounds. The Comanche medicine men have a plan to stop them, which Geronimo fears will end in war between the white settlers and the American Indians. He sends Doc to stop the professors digging. Along the way, Doc meets his friends Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison and Ned Buntline who agree to help him.
Doc must find a way to persuade the palaeontologists to leave – but they are too busy competing with each other for discoveries to listen to what he has to say. Before Doc knows it, the Apache medicine men have their plan underway. Doc needs all his bravery, skill with a rifle and problem solving ability if he is going to be able to enjoy any of his extra year.
This is the second Weird West book I’ve read. I’ve found them to be a light read but funny and clever. The characters are portrayed in a warm, dryly humorous way. Doc Halliday pays little attention to such niceties as politeness or hygiene but you can’t help liking him. The way history and fantasy have been blended together is very clever – and appendices helpfully sort them back out again.
The Doctor and the Dinosaur is a fun read even though the plot was a little predictable. Having said that, the solution Doc came up with at the end did manage to surprise me. You could easily read this book as a stand-alone book (any back story you need is nicely worked in) although the main characters do follow through from the other books.