Crichton, author of such thrillers as The Andromeda Strain and Congo, has come up with a very tall tale indeed. On a foggy island 100 miles off Costa Rica, a bioengineering company is secretly creating a state-of-the-art computerized amusement park with living, breathing dinosaurs as the main attraction. (The mammoth creatures are cloned from reconstructed DNA.)
A group of scientific consultants visits the island and discovers there are problems in this prehistoric paradise. Big problems, which may remind some of Westworld, the 1973 film Crichton directed and wrote.
That this book is a real page turner has to do with its brief chapters, not with Crichton's prose, which is rarely more than workmanlike. Then too, his characters, particularly the children, are poorly imagined.
The author does get the plot and his reconstituted reptiles up and running with alacrity, but steers them into a tar pit with a dull climax. Ah well, Jurassic Park has already been optioned to Steven Spielberg. It should make a better film than it does a book. (Knopf, $19.95)