Zero Cool

Zero Cool by Michael Crichton writing as John Lange, Hard Case Crime #41

American radiologist Peter Ross just wanted a vacation. But when he meets the beautiful Angela Locke on a Spanish beach, he soon finds himself caught in a murderous crossfire between rival gangs seeking a precious artifact. From Barcelona to Paris, from the towers of the Alhambra to its catacombs, Ross is an ordinary man in desperate circumstances: racing to uncover a secret lost for centuries, before he becomes its next victim.

This is my fourth Hard Case Crime book and so far I have been enjoying them very much. I am very fond of SF/F genre but venturing in the crime books has been something that I was and still am looking forward to, since I read quite a lot of books, the HCC books amongst others keep things diverse. I read one book of Michael Crichton before, Drug of Choice, he wrote these books when he was still a medical student at Harvard medical school. I was impressed with the blockbustery way he wrote his story it is non stop action. 

These HCC stories are all stand alone, each has a new protagonist and story. This time around in Zero Cool you follow the radiologist Peter Ross. Zero Cool picks up with directly lying the focus on Peter, who is longing for a well deserved vacation after all the hectic times he has gone through working at the hospital lately. He just wants a few things, a nice time, lots to drink and some nice girl to keep him company. Peter gets all this and much, much more than he had dared to anticipate. The start up of the story shows an easy going vacation for Peter, he gets to Spain, walks the beach and meets up with a beautiful girl named Angela. Soon he meets a stranger who urges him not do an autopsy, and Peter is like... uhm I don't know what you are talking about. Furthermore he is an radiologist and not a pathologist. However this scene is followed up with another wherein Peter is confronted with doing and autopsy, well not really confronted, more or less forces or he won't get out of Spain... Michael Crichton had build up this part of the story very well, it threw the whole story into a rapid non-stop ride. The whole pacing of the story is again upped when Peter does carry out the autopsy and he finds himself in between rival gangs who all have their mind set on a precious artifact... 

The protagonist of Zero Cool, Peter Ross, was great fun to read about. He only wanted to go on a holiday, visit the congress of radiologists in Barcelona to recharge his batteries. However he finds himself thrown in the depths of a murderous plot and rival gangs that all want to ask him questions. Since many of these events aren't "standard" for a doctor in a radiology department, I had some reservations to how Peter's character would react to said events. I think Michael Crichton thought the same and he first makes Peter's character come over as his normal self and not really knowing how to go about these threats of being murdered if he doesn't carry out the autopsy. It bothers him and he doesn't know what to do. Luckily he has someone to talk to, but when push comes to shove there is only one way to get out of it. After these events, Michael Crichton writes up Peter's character with a lot more confidence and he knows what do and how to do it. The best thing in the end was when eh told he friends back at the hospital about it, he casually shrugged it off. The secondary characters like Angela nicely had their own influence in the story and added a different layer to Peter's character. He got her on a vacation flirt but soon proved to be more... 

One thing that I was impressed with were how Michael Crichton showed the different bad guys of the book. There are two parties and each of them want to get their hands on Peter. Seeing parts of their plotting and scheming and the subsequent actions they have set into motion and how they unfold throughout the book really put me on the edge of my seat. And Peter is right there in the middle of this tug-of-war. Not knowing who to trust and what to do! 

Zero Cool is sadly a short book only with 230ish pages and they really fly by. Michael Crichton writes in a way that allows you to be completely immersed in the story. It might fall in several crime tropes but I frankly don't care, they work and gave me a blockbustery feeling to the book wanting more. Luckily I still got two other HCC books of John Lange sitting on the shelf waiting to be read. It's these kind of books that will make a great feature on the big screen! If you are looking for an great thriller and doesn't take you ages to finish or get into, get these HCC books, they are a lot of fun and over too soon!



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