Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Michael Crichton, writing as John Lange

I am a huge fan of Michael Crichton, although I preferred his older books (Andromeda Strain, Timeline, The First Great Train Robbery, Congo, Jurassic Park, Sphere) to his newer ones (Rising Son, Disclosure). I suppose it was the fantasy and creative elements of the early ones; they really challenged the imagination. I remember the twist in Jurassic Park (the book, not the film), which was so fantastic. I was such a fan, that I even read his autobiography, Travels, which was so brilliant, that bizarrely, I left a few pages unread, because I didn't want it to end. Michael Crichton seems to have been a remarkable man. So, you can imagine my delight, when I discovered that he had also written under a pseudonym! John Lange, recently republished by Hard Case Crime, and written in the late 60s early 70s, when he was a student at Harvard Medical School. He wrote eight books in six years. I have just read two of them, and although slightly raw in places, they were both fantastic, and as exciting and creative as all of his books. They were both proper action adventure stories, with a tiny little bit of romance thrown in.

Easy Go is about an illegal archaeological dig, looking for the last tomb, and it is brilliant, from the fabulous characters to the history and knowledge conveyed about the tombs in Egypt, to the amazing twist at the end.

Grave Descend is set in Jamaica, and focuses on a diver, who is recruited to bring up some treasure from a boat that has recently sunk. It is a complicated story, involving wartime treasure transported by boat to Jamaica, followed by the Sicilian mafia. I can't tell you what happens to the treasure, but it is a very exciting finish. I particularly liked reading about the diving at night experience, and also the walk through the jungle area. Great descriptions in both books, making me gasp when there was a scare! If you are a fan of Samuel Johnson (often referred to as Dr Johnson), there are some nice quotes throughout the book too.

The books are a little bit sexist perhaps, particularly the front covers, but that is understandable, given when they were written. Both of these books are real page turners, easy to read, interesting, and full of adventure, quite in the style of James Bond, but with the heroes a little more rugged, like Indiana Jones. I can't wait to read the rest of them now. Are there any other Michael Crichton fans out there? Which ones are your favourites?

Geek fact of the day: One of my favourite films is Hackers (great film, great soundtrack), and one of the characters is called Zero Cool, which is also the name of one of the books in this series!

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