Drug of Choice Paperback – Nov 19 2013
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"Great delight to Crichton fans who are still mourning his 2008 passing." Geek Girl Project
About the Author
Long before he wrote Jurassic Park, before he scripted blockbuster movies like Twister, before he created the groundbreaking TV series ER, Michael Crichton was an honors student at Harvard Medical School - and writing paperback suspense novels on the side, under the top-secret pen name "John Lange." Lange wrote eight books between 1966 and 1972...and then vanished.
Until, 40 years after John Lange was born, Michael Crichton chose Hard Case Crime to bring him back, personally re-editing two Lange books, even writing new chapters for one of them. Now Hard Case Crime is proud to bring all of John Lange's work back into print for the first time in decades - and the first time ever under Michael Crichton's real name.
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Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It is an early novel before MC became a blockbuster machine, so, his story telling skills are in development here... the medical mystery that kicks the story off is fascinating, but the climax of the story veers into some shaky ground, ending with one of Crichton's patented notes of ambiguity. But overall the book is a fun breezy read and a must have for fans of Crichton. Not as solid or assured as his later household name books, but an entertaining tale that may be more interesting for seeing Crichton trying out concepts he'd later perfect...
While a light easy read, Drug of Choice is not on par with the other early Lange books. It's easy to see the genisis of many of Crichton's later ideas, but this book is a lot more amateurish. There are three basic parts to the book. In the first part, The doctor encounters two patients, one a Hell's Angel biker and one a movie star, both of whom appear to be in deep comas with no apparent cause and both piss blue urine. The movie star finds the doctor interesting and they start dating or at leSt spending the night together. In the second part, the doctor and the movie star vacation together on a secret island whose exact location no one knows and where your every vacation fantasy comes true. It's the best resort in history. In the third part, the doctor happily conducts experiments for an amazing corporation.
There are themes here of drug addiction, scientific experimentation, mind control, secret corporations, consumerism, and psychosis. There are certainly the seeds here of Crichton's later work but the whole story loosely hangs together.
This was meant to be a quick read, shallow but enjoyable. Lots of action, pretty girls, some plot twists thrown in for good measure--just don't think too hard because there are also a lot of gaping plot holes.
Drug of Choice is perhaps a cut above the other John Lange books I've read. There are shades of Crichton's eventual hit TV show ER, as the main character is a hospital resident trying to solve a medical mystery. The story is also effective as satire of Hollywood's designer drug culture and America's obsession with pop science.
It's not really fair to dismiss this (and other Lange novels) as simply Crichton's amateur apprenticeship, as other reviewers have done. Even at this age, Crichton was clearly capable of better stories. After all, by the time this novel came out, A Case of Need had already won an Edgar award under a different pseudonym, and Andromeda Strain had become a bestseller under the author's own name. These Lange books were actually well-crafted to be precisely what they are: mindless, campy, escapist entertainment. Crichton said in an interview the Lang books were written to be sold at airports and to compete with in-flight movies for the reader's attention for a couple of hours. By this criterion I would have to say Drug of Choice succeeds very well.
The foundation of Crichton is here: loosely based on a current or coming technology (in this case, prescription drugs), a quick plot, characterization that slowly allows you to paint your own picture of the players.
So it's not a masterwork, but it is a fast paced, tightly woven story with interesting characters and enough happening to keep you blazing through the pages. Further, the story, pacing and subject matter fit well in the Hard Case Crime imprint.