In this recently discovered Crichton novel, the year is 1876. Among the warring Indian tribes and lawless gold-rush towns of America's western territories, two paleontologists pillage the Wild West. They're hunting for dinosaur fossils, while surveilling, deceiving, and sabotaging each other in a rivalry that will come to be known as the Bone Wars. Into this treacherous territory plunges the arrogant and entitled Yale student William Johnson. Determined to survive a summer in the West to win a bet, William has joined world-renowned paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh on his latest expedition. But Marsh becomes convinced that William is spying for his nemesis, Edward Drinker Cope, so he abandons him in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a locus of crime and vice.