Terrible Lizard: A Memoir of My Time in the Police Dinosaur Unit – Book Review

By Doug Goodman
Published on: June 28, 2019

Set in a world where dinosaurs such as T-rex’s are an integral part of the Houston Police Department, we get to see what it’s like to work as police officer paired with a velociraptor – at both work and home.


There is no greater job than animal handler for a Velociraptor.

Or so Oak Jones thought. He’s wanted on the Police Dinosaur Unit all his life. Now that he’s in, he’s discovered that training a Police Working Velociraptor is a lot harder than he ever imagined. And if he thought training would be difficult, living with a Velociraptor is a whole new level. Banshee can clear a six-foot fence like it was nothing, and he has a love for eating the neighborhood cats, which is putting Oak on the outs with his next-door neighbor, Christy Dao.

But there is a reason for everything, and when Oak discovers why Banshee struggles, it breaks his heart.

Terrible Lizard is a funny and endearing look at life with Banshee, a great working dinosaur, but one terrible lizard.


Terrible Lizard is such an easy read that I found humorous , informative, and emotional. In the story, Oak Jones takes us on his journey as he tells us the what it takes to first be accepted into Houston’s Police Dinosaur Unit (PDU) program and how he first met his velociraptor, Banshee, who definitely has a endearing quality about him, not to mention a mischievous one. Oak details the struggles and challenges they faced as they bonded with each other, and what it was like to be in active duty with a dinosaur. Through-out the narrative we also get many glimpses of what life is like with a velociraptor outside of the job that includes other people’s perceptions and how they react when they come across Banshee, and how Oak worked to build better relationships between the public and the PDU. Then, for fun we also get a glimpse of how Banshee impacts his dating life.

Overall, the story is full of warmth and told with a sense of humor that feels very genuine. The narration has a conversational tone that makes you feel as if it is written by a friend. After reading this story, it almost seems like a natural fit to have a dinosaur in a police department or in the military, although, I’m still iffy on how a T-rex would work out. The story is not geared toward children, but at the beginning the author purposefully tell the reader how he has tried to keep the story as G-rated as possible since he admits he knows kids may be intrigued by a book about terrible lizards and pick it up to read. I feel fairly confident that it would be ok for juvenile’s as well as adults.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Thank you to the author for a reader’s copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.

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