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Scratch One

Michael Crichton (writing as John Lange)

One of eight titles from Michael Crichton brought back by Hard Case Crime. They were originally written between 1966 and 1972 during his time at Harvard.


To prevent an arms shipment from reaching the Middle East a terrorist group has been carrying out targeted assassinations. An arms dealer in Denmark drinks a poisoned martini; an American diplomat in Portugal is shot in the head, and a Frenchman is murdered in his hospital bed. All part of an international conspiracy. In response, the United States sends one of its deadliest agents to take the killers down but he’s delayed in transit. Unfortunate then for the hapless American lawyer, Roger Carr, who has been mistaken for the professional killer.


Carr’s an ambitionless playboy in Nice, France with the cushy assignment of buying a villa: he’s an everyman character who finds himself in the middle of an international arms deal. Life's been easy for Carr, his father being an influential senator, but now he’s been mistaken for a secret agent his life is in danger. He was hoping to fill his trip with women, drinking and gambling but how wrong can a man be?


It’s a fun novel, perhaps inspired by Ian Fleming’s Bond, with Carr riding his luck. His interest in romance (with the one woman that changes him…) makes him likeable and we even feel a little sorry for him. The pace is fast and it’s thoroughly entertaining if not as hard-boiled as you might be expecting. More glamour than grit but plenty of action and chases, as some of the world’s deadliest men are after Carr as he strives to stay alive and prove his true identity.

About Michael Crichton:

John Michael Crichton, MD was born in 1942 (died 2008).

An American best-selling author, physician, producer, director, and screenwriter, best known for his work in the science fiction, medical fiction, and thriller genres. His books have sold over 200 million copies worldwide, and many have been adapted into films. In 1994 Crichton became the only creative artist ever to have works simultaneously charting at No. 1 in television, film, and book sales.

His literary works are usually based on the action genre and heavily feature technology. His novels epitomize the techno-thriller genre of literature, often exploring technology and failures of human interaction with it, especially resulting in catastrophes with biotechnology. Many of his future history novels have medical or scientific underpinnings, reflecting his medical training and science background. He was the author of, among others, The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, Congo, Travels, Sphere, Rising Sun, Disclosure, The Lost World, Airframe, Timeline, Prey and State of Fear.


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