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3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  1,833 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
Political radical John Wright is plotting an act of mass destruction – and federal agent John Graves has him under surveillance, trying to figure out what the plot is.

When a government computer is hacked and a high-security shipment of nerve gas gets hijacked, Graves puts the pieces together – but can he stop Wright from unleashing his weapon before it kills a million peop
Paperback, 221 pages
Published October 29th 2013 by Hard Case Crime (first published 1972)
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(showing 1-30)
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Sep 14, 2015 Kandice rated it liked it
This book was obviously well researched just like all of Crichton's books. I always find that thrilling, especially when it's about something dangerous, like explosives and nerve gas in this title. The low stars are not for that, nor are they due to the pacing. This was a perfect title for Hard Case Crime, thrilling and told at breakneck speed. The low stars are for lack of depth.

Crichton isn't known for creating characters. It's the situation of his tales that really grab the reader. Often that
Sep 09, 2016 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Not a bad book, fairly loose plot, page turner but nothing in depth to really engage the brain. Written in 1972 so to read it now has some unintentional funny moments - like when they are trying to discuss the easiest and quickest way to send information. Our MC is forced to go to the police station (he is on the force) to receive his fax from the photo copier........ email anyone?

The book is all about a fast paced plot, leaving out any deep descriptions of people or places, if to compare it is
Dec 06, 2010 Trent rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Grade: B- ...John Lange (an early psuedonym used by Michael Crichton)wrties a rather ho-hum novel in Binary. The most interesting thing is reading this book as a time capsule of cutting edge computer technology circa 1972.
Sep 14, 2015 John rated it liked it
One of Michael Crichton's very first efforts (which he wrote under a pen name), BINARY is a very mediocre novel, but still pretty amazing considering how young Crichton was when he wrote it. Crichton would later use it as the basis for his directorial debut, a 1972 TV movie called PURSUIT. It's the story of two brilliant men, a government agent and a cold-blooded terrorist, who see each other as long-sought-out adversaries and can't resist playing a series of mind games with each other. The fate ...more
Adrian McCarthy
A straightforward thriller with a little touch of Crichton-esque techy complication thrown in. A very fast read. Not much in the way of characters, which seems typical for Crichton. (I'm not sure why one of the editions shows a woman on the cover. None of the characters in the story are women; there are only a couple small references to the sexual conquests of one of the men.)

Even though this was written in the early '70s, it has some interesting connections to today. John Graves, the hero, has
Mar 25, 2014 Ralph rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure, spy
In the scheme of things, "Binary" was Michael Crichton's 11th book (8th under the Lange pen-name) and yet it has the feel of being much less developed, not just in plot and characterization, but in execution as well. Perhaps the author felt a bit ill at ease in writing a purely political/spy thriller, or having to rely on a unbelievable politically conservative lunatic for a villain, or countering the villain with the fiction of a competent civil servant. Or maybe he just couldn't work up any ...more
Al Young
Mar 12, 2015 Al Young rated it it was ok
This is one of the novellas Crichton wrote as he put himself through med school. Obviously, this is of interest to more of a few people, so it's been reprinted a few times. In fact, one recent cover of this book makes it look like something out of Chandler/Ellroy/Sin City pulp fiction (which it isn't even close to).

That said, it is some of Crichton's early work as a pulp writer. That seems contradictory, maybe oxymoronic, but Pulp Crichton is actually exactly what you think it might be. It's pul
May 14, 2013 Skyelr rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was an exciting read and kept my attention the whole time. It wasn't as good as some of Crichton's others but I still enjoyed it.
Oct 27, 2016 Ren rated it it was ok
You can see the young Michael Crichton teeing up here to what became his usual plot structure and set of characters, but Binary doesn't generate half as much interest or suspense as his better-known books.
Meegan Rourke
Nov 08, 2016 Meegan Rourke rated it liked it
It started off slow and I wasn't sure I could even get through it. The second half had me hooked though. A mixed bag - I probably wouldn't recommend. Crichton has much better stories than this one.
Oct 25, 2016 Nicole rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, thriller
Why the hell is there a naked woman on the cover? There's barely one woman in the book! This was okay but not great. And of course, the tech references are dated.
Nov 11, 2016 itchy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: soft
reads like a wake-up call
Oct 15, 2016 Tim rated it liked it
While I've enjoyed these early Crichton books, I am confused by their covers. Take a look at this one - a fully nude woman front-and-center on the cover of a book that includes ZERO women. Um...why? Completely ridiculous.
Oct 11, 2016 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick read--nerve gas is stolen with the intention of killing a million people and wiping out an entire city during a political convention. The story turns into a battle of wits between the bomb designer and a State Department Intelligence agent. The ending might stretch the imagination a bit, but that's what Michael Crichton does best.
Donna Riley-lein
A start

Like the author's later books, long on technology, medium on plot, and minimal characterization. You can see how the author evolved.
Jeff Miller
One of Michael Crichton's books while going to med school

A medium length taut thriller that was fairly enjoyable. You can see him develop his techno thriller chops.
Jul 27, 2013 Monnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was written by the late Michael Crichton, perhaps best known as the author of the blockbuster Jurassic Park, way back in 1972 under the pseudonym John Lange. It surfaced recently in ebook format, for a short time offered at for $1.99. Because I'm a huge Michael Crichton fan, I considered it a bargain and snapped it up immediately despite having only nine customer reviews at Amazon (although all are either 5 or 4 stars, so I wasn't terribly worried).

It is one of several books
Political radical John Wright is planning something, but nobody knows what. John Graves, the federal agent in charge of his surveillance, thinks Wright is up to something nefarious—and with the president in town to make an appearance at the Republican National Convention, nobody wants to take any chances. As Graves’ investigation heats up, it’s clear Wright’s intentions are maniacal, and eventually Graves realizes he’s hijacked tons of nerve gas from an Army shipment. And if he doesn’t stop ...more
Craig Childs
Feb 27, 2015 Craig Childs rated it liked it
Binary is a taut political suspense thriller which follows State Department intelligence analyst John Graves hot on the trail of a suspected terrorist. He has twelve hours to figure out when, where, and how an attack might come on the 1972 Republican National Convention. (Through a rather bizarre twist of fate, the book is set in San Diego, where the convention was supposed to have taken place. In real life the convention was moved to Florida in the midst of an apparent Nixon bribery scandal. ...more
Nov 23, 2014 Brian rated it really liked it
Michael Crichton published ten books -- five before The Andromeda Strain and five after -- under pseudonyms, eight of them as John Lange. Thanks to Hard Case Crime (and Crichton himself), the Lange books are available once again. Binary is the last of them. Being the last, I don't know if it is also the best, but reading it was such a pleasure that I can assure you I intend to find out.

It is, according to other sources, the book most like his more famous works, and it's easy enough to see why th
Sep 18, 2016 Vismay rated it it was ok
He was still learning the ropes! Not complaining!
Jun 18, 2014 Adam rated it liked it
Fast, easy, fun, and masculine to a ludicrous degree. So, pretty much exactly what you want when you pick up a pulp novel to read over the summer break. It was cool getting to read a Michael Crichton book from before he was THE Michael Crichton. Kind of feels like watching batting practice at a major league ballgame, or showing up to the symphony early and hearing all the instruments get tuned up.

Something that did surprise me about this book that sets it apart from most other pulp novels: abso
Dec 09, 2013 Nerdsfeather rated it really liked it
I have previously written on this blog about my admiration for hacks. Hacks are like session musicians: their job is to produce efficiently and effectively. And well. And often. Some of my heroes are hacks. Mark Twain was a hack. So was Chet Atkins.

Michael Crichton was in medical school when he wrote his first novels. Medical school. How he managed to write a single novel while in med school is beyond me—I can barely write my dissertation and that’s all I have to do. But he wrote them. Binary i
Libri &
Jul 13, 2014 Libri & rated it liked it
John Graves, agente del servizio segreto, viene incaricato di sorvegliare John Wright, uomo ricco nonché matematico talentuoso ritenuto pericoloso per la sicurezza nazionale. Qualche mese dopo Graves viene convocato dai Servizi Segreti per discutere del furto di alcune informazioni riservate da parte di Tim Drew, amico di John Wright. Informazioni che hanno permesso a quest'ultimo di impossessarsi di un potente gas nervino; un'arma chimica letale che Wright vuole utilizzare a San Diego (sede ...more
Jul 26, 2011 Bethel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Lange (Michael Crichton) thrills as usual, this time with 1970s-era chemical terrorist exploits. His intellectual fiction is at the same time incredibly understandable; his settings plausible. Compared to his other works - say, "Airframe" - it was an easy read, not too complex but enough to keep you guessing. I was a little frustrated when the climax turned out to be something I guessed before the characters, but it was refreshing at the same time to understand how the mystery items work ...more
Antonella Sacco
Un romanzo scritto dall'autore con uno pseudonimo (John Lange) nel 1964 e ripubblicato nel 2014. L'ho trovato abbastanza deludente, certo non paragonabile (come affermato nei risvolti e nella quarta di copertina) a Jurassic Park. Una sorta di terrorista che non condivide la politica del presidente degli USA progetta un attentato con un devastante gas nervino e un agente del dipartimento della difesa deve evitare il disastro. Una trama classica con personaggi alquanto classici: il terrorista ...more
Jason Edwards
Jan 07, 2016 Jason Edwards rated it liked it
By the time Michael Crichton had published Binary, he’d already had 10 other novels published, in just six short years. Time to get serious. No more of these little stories about good-looking rich guys having sex in European playgrounds, playing at being criminals, fantasy novels without vision or impact. Time to, more or less, write something that could be slotted into an episode of that hit TV show, 24—30 years before it even comes out. I found it “Free” via Kindle Unlimited, so I tossed it on ...more
Joe Lines
Jan 27, 2015 Joe Lines rated it it was ok
I picked this one up because I'm a mad fan of the author. This was one of Crichton's/Lange's earliest works and it was intended to be short, exciting, and pretty straight-forward. If you accept these things about it, I think it can certainly be a pretty nice little read, but there are definitely places that I wish he'd put just a little more time and energy into. I found the main villain could have been spruced up a bit, and the binary (see what he did there?) between him and the hero could have ...more
Tim Potter
Jan 10, 2015 Tim Potter rated it really liked it
Shelves: chrichton
A fantastic action thriller that, like the best of Crichton, features technology ahead of its time. In this case, the forward-thinking tech is computer networking, military computer systems that clearly look to the future and the internet. Amazing when considering this novel first saw print in 1972. Crichton also addresses early elements of Chaos Theory, a mathematical and scientific theory he would bring to the masses decades later in JURASSIC PARK. The majority of the book is dedicated to ...more
Nov 25, 2013 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second John Lange novel, and it was much better than the first one I read. Since I discovered that Michael Crichton, one of my favorite authors, used the pseudonym Lange to write several novels early in his career I've been dying to read them all.

This has the makings of a great Crichton novel but he wasn't quite there yet. His writing isn't polished, his characters aren't fleshed out, and the book is incredibly short. However there were glimpses of the writer he would become, and I st
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Conflict Action T...: Elements of a Story: Binary by John Lange 1 3 Apr 03, 2013 04:50PM  
  • The Rip-Off
  • The Consummata (Hard Case Crime #103)
  • Dealing, or The Berkeley-To-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues
  • Crime Wave: Reportage and Fiction from the Underside of L.A.
  • Electronic Life
  • Blood on the Mink
  • The Wrong Quarry (Quarry #11)
  • Easy Death (Hard Case Crime #117)
  • Say It With Bullets (Hard Case Crime #18)
  • Stop This Man! (Hard Case Crime #58)
  • The Guns of Heaven (Hard Case Crime #24)
  • Kill Now, Pay Later (Hard Case Crime #35)
  • The Astronaut's Wife
  • Honey in his Mouth (Hard Case Crime, #60)
John Lange is a pseudonym of author Michael Crichton. His pen name was selected as reference to his above-average height of 6' 9"(2.06 meters). Lange means "tall one" in German, Danish and Dutch.
More about John Lange...

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