Drug of Choice

Drug of Choice by John Lange/Michael Crichton, Hard Case Crime

On a secret island in the Caribbean, bioengineers have devised a vacation resort like no other, promising the ultimate escape. But when Dr. Roger Clark investigates, he discovers the dark secret of Eden Island and of Advance Biosystems, the shadowy corporation underwriting it...

Hard Case Crime is an imprint that I got familiar with only recently via Stephen King's Joyland. I really enjoyed this Joyland and when I was offered to review the books written by Michael Crichton under his pseudonym John Lange I immediately said yes. I know Michael Crichton best by his popular Jurassic Park book and several other technothrillers. The books that Hard Case Crime is re-issuing were written by Michael Crichton when he was still a medical student at Harvard Medical School, they go back as far as 1966, when Odd On was published. I only read Drug of Choice so far but what I have come to glimpse it that this book still counts. The crime aspect might be a bit different that what you see nowadays, but the pulp feeling of the book makes it a great read. 

In Drug of Choice, you follow the physician Clark, who stumbles onto a strange medical case. A motorcyclist, who got into a coma, and is peeing blue pee. Nobody at the hospital, from the standard doctors, interns and the neurology department has the slightest clue as to what may be causing this strange coloring. Even more so is the fact that soon after this strange discovery, the comatose patient all of sudden wakes, and is as fresh as a daisy. Although he can't seem to recall what caused him to be in the coma in the first place. This coma combined with the strange blue colored pee is boggling Clark, soon though he gets another similar case, and this proves for him to be a turning point in his investigation. Clark gets entwined in a much greater plot that I first had assumed. Clark makes up an interesting protagonist, he has a lot of knowledge about his field but beyond that he has some weaker points, he doesnt have the required investigative skills of the police to begin with and he is easily led astray when he meets a beautiful women. The best thing of the book is that I constantly thought that Clark was purely leading the investigation but like I said earlier, Clark is soon part of the plot and when reality hits him, it hits him hard. The big revelation on the pleasure island is really an eye opening event, and really creeped me out.

The idea behind Drug of Choice, with bioengineers devising a new vacation resort for ultimate escape and the of course the title, is probably owed to the fact that Michael Crichton was a medical student. What falls to note when you are only a few sentences into Drug of Choice is the story picks you up in one go and doesn't let you loose. Michael Crichton has a definite way with words and knows how he has to use them to create an engaging story. His writing style feels natural and produces a great flow with the story. The writing style is in many ways right to the point, however this doesn't take away any details that are crucial to the story itself. During the events and eventual investigation that Clark leads, you get all the crucial information, but you are left just as clueless as Clark itself, right until two-thirds of the book then it suddenly all falls into place. And after this part it gets even more weird. you can play a bit of advocate of the devil with this book and ask the question is the big pharmaceutical companies are doing everything by the book...

Drug of Choice is a fairly short book with just about 200 pages. It's a very fast read that I finished in one setting, mainly owing to Michael Crichtons great way with words, his careful plotting and constant interesting discoveries that you are being confronted with. Drug of Choice is just the book that want to read for a leisurely Sunday afternoon. I still got some more titles of Robert Lange that I will be looking forward to to dig in. 


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