Cover image of "Deadly Memory," a novel about a dinosaur who survived the extinction

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

This dinosaur survived the Cretaceous Extinction.

His name is Sweet Blood of Easy Prey Just After Slaughter, but they don’t know that. He’s Charlie to them. He’s only about five feet tall, so he’s not unmanageably large. And now they’ve got him locked up deep underground in an impenetrable glass cell that prevents him from incapacitating them with the scents he generates for the purpose. Which he would be all too happy to do given the chance.

Because Charlie is a maniraptor with a mouth full of needle-sharp teeth—and he’s hungry. But in his day, sixty-six million years ago, Charlie was an astronomer—in fact, it was he who predicted the impact of the asteroid that drove his species to extinction, along with three-quarters of all the other plant and animal species on the planet at the time. And it was also Charlie, working with a handful of brilliant colleagues, who contrived to put him and dozens of others in his community into a form of suspended animation. Unfortunately, he’s the only survivor. And now he’s a prisoner of the United States government.

Yes, Charlie the dinosaur survived

So how, you might ask, did all this come about? Regrettably, you won’t know the full story unless you’ve read David Walton’s series starter, Living Memory. But in the fewest possible words, here’s what happened . . . A team of paleontologists working in northeast Thailand uncovered what could only be described as a dinosaur cemetery created for the purpose. And in unearthing the fossils they are assaulted with memories that take them back sixty-six million years ago to the lives those dinosaurs lived.

They’re memories triggered by scent. And one of the other scents the maniraptors generated is a deadly weapon—a scent that permits anyone to dominate everyone around him, bending others to his will. So, of course, that domination scent, which Charlie can create at will, is now a great prize. And both Chinese and American agents are struggling to capture it. Which explains why the CIA now has Charlie locked away so far from his homeland.

Deadly Memory (Living Memory #2 of 3) by David Walton (2023) 260 pages ★★★★☆

Artist's image of maniraptors like the dinosaur who survived the extinction in this novel
A montage of maniraptors at different stages of evolution into the birds (still technically dinosaurs) we live with today. Image: Darren Naish – Scientific American Blog

Here’s what’s happening now . . .

Charlie’s captors underground in Colorado include several members of a high-powered team from the CIA and three paleontologists, the twin sisters Samira and Beth and Samira’s dissertation adviser, Paula. Samira works directly across the glass barrier from Charlie, determined to devise a way to communicate with him. She and her sister are furious that they’re powerless to share the news about Charlie with other scientists. The fact that a dinosaur survived, and that he’s as intelligent as they are, would shake their world. But the CIA has gagged them, intent on learning more about the domination scent to use it as a weapon.

Meanwhile, half a world away, events are rushing toward civil war in Thailand. The corrupt general at the helm of the government has sold out to the Chinese, who are calling the shots in the capital. And Princess Sirindhorn, the sole survivor of the royal family, has acquired enough of the domination scent to gain control over the immense criminal army behind the drug traffic. She is using her power to free thousands of young Thai sex slaves—and is plotting a campaign to seize control of the palace from the Chinese. Her new science minister, who goes by the name Kit, is advising her. And Kit is a home-grown paleontologist who had been part of Samira and Beth’s team that unearthed Charlie.

. . . but that’s not all

The Chinese are not sitting back waiting for events to unfold. Led by Colonel Feng Zhanwei of the People’s Liberation Army, they, too, have gained possession of the domination scent. And they’re using their power to force the United States out of Thailand and shift the country more firmly into the Chinese orbit.

And while all this drama is unfolding, another paleontologist has been drilling deep into the ocean bed from an oil rig in the San Julian Basin a hundred kilometers off the Argentine coast. She is searching for an explanation for the Permian Extinction, which killed ninety percent of all life on Earth more than 250 million years ago. But when she and her crew bring up a core sample, they inadvertently unleash a deadly ancient pathogen. And this sets off what comes to be called the Julian virus—a virus that’s immeasurably more lethal than COVID-19.

About the author

David Walton. Image: The Evening Universe

David Walton (1975-) writes science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. He is the author of a dozen books to date, of which seven are SF novels. In 2008, he won the Philip K. Dick Award for the best paperback science fiction novel published in the United States for Terminal Mind.

Walton writes on his author website that “I am a Christian. Unfortunately, these days Christianity gets associated with certain political views, most of which I do not hold. As a Christian, I am for the oppressed, the downtrodden, the helpless, the poor, the immigrant, and the refugee. I am for all voices being heard, and all lives being valued. I believe we gain knowledge and wisdom by listening to those who are different than we are and learning to understand what life is like from the perspective of those most unlike ourselves.”

For related reading

I’ve also reviewed three other books by David Walton, including the first and third books in this series:

You might also care to check out a nonfiction book that relates to the two extinctions at the heart of this novel: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (Are we living through the Sixth Extinction?).

For more good reading, check out:

And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, on the Home Page.