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Odds On

3.29  ·  Rating Details ·  286 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
A robbery is attempted in an isolated hotel on Costa Brava. The robbery is planned with the help of a Critical Path Analysis computer program, but unforeseen events get in the way
Mass Market Paperback, 215 pages
Published 1966 by Signet Books
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Ben Wilder
This is my review of this book imported from my blog at

Though the name John Lange might not be familiar to many, rest assured that you have probably read at least one of his books. For Odds On is actually Michael Crichton's first EVER published novel. When Michael Crichton first started writing he was in Med School and a good portion of his grades were based on what his teachers thought of him. He was worried that if they knew he was writing books, they w
The basic plot of Odds On is pretty simple: Three criminals plan to rob the Reina, a luxury resort hotel in Spain. To ensure their success they have had every aspect of the crime plotted out and simulated on a computer. There is talk of punch cards to give you an idea when this book was written. Of course, nothing goes quite as planned.

Odds On was published by Hard Case Crime, an imprint that specializes in publishing new and republishing old hard-boiled crime fiction. I have always loved old-fa
Dec 29, 2013 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ODDS ON is a fast moving heist novel centered around 3 guys looking for a large score at a luxury resort. Elements of Michael Crichton’s tech-fi are glimpsed here with the heist planned using a computer to determine the probability for success measured against a number of variables. The human factor not withstanding (unknown elements that can’t be factored into the equation), the stakes looked low to garner a high payoff. What ensues is a fun and colorful pulp mixing a free spirited resort menta ...more
These "John Lange" novels is where Crichton developed his cinematic style. I enjoyed the earlier Hard Case Crime releases of "Zero Cool" and "Grave Descend". Great Caper novel, down to the unexpected resolution. No spoilers from me, Just read all of them.
The Reina is an super-luxury hotel on the Spanish Riviera, making up for its isolated location with an array of five-star services: not just swimming pools and a bar but restaurants, salons, stores. As one character points out, it’s like an opulent cruise liner on land; it caters to the wealthiest tourists, and is slated to be the blueprint for numerous competitors. It’s located in the heart of Franco’s authoritarian Spain, an oppressive police-state. And three men plan on robbing it blind.

Hazen Master
Jan 25, 2014 Hazen Master rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very satisfying little caper. I didn't know what to expect and was pleased with the result. Very well paced. Hard to keep track of which characters were which on occasion. Quite provocative in parts.
Jul 31, 2013 Saad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael crichton typical novel. What makes it special is that it was his first published novel back in 1966.
Richard Moss
Jan 31, 2017 Richard Moss rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group, 2017
More than half a century ago, a young medical student had his first novels published under the name John Lange.

That man would go on to become the multi-million selling author of Jurassic Park, Westworld, Congo and other novels - but of course under his real name of Michael Crichton.

That early work was forgotten until revived and republished shortly before Crichton's death in 2008.

But if Odds On is anything to go by, it would have been kinder to leave them firmly in the past.

First, it's horribly
Lexxi Kitty
Of the six John Lange books I've read, this and Scratch One appear to be the best of the lot. Scratch One has more a thrilling/action-adventure feel to it, while this book here, Odds On, has more of a Mystery/Crime caper feel to it. Oddly, I think this one and Scratch One might actually be Crichton's first two books published (not necessarily first two written, but first two published). Odd in that you do not normally expect the first two books by an author to be the best (at least under a speci ...more
Joseph Cook
Feb 14, 2015 Joseph Cook rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erik Carl son
Review: Odds On by John Lange aka Michael Crichton
Odds On
Zero Cool
Grave Descend
Michael Crichton
Hard Case Crime

Michael Crichton is a staple in world of pop culture. Prior to his passing, Crichton left a legacy of rich vibrant texts which melded hard science and adventure. From the Congo to Isla Nublar to the depths of the Pacific, Crichton brought us to exotic locations of the imagination. But all writers need to start somewhere.

Michael Crichton’s start was as John Lange: a pseudonym for his low-
Craig Childs
ODDS ON was Michael Crichton’s first book and is (so far) my favorite of the early novels he published under the John Lange pen name. That’s not to say it is a very good book, because frankly it is not, but it was the perfect breezy fun audiobook to keep me company on an 8-hour road trip this weekend.

The plot involves three thieves planning an elaborate heist of an upscale Spanish beach resort. They’ve used a computer to plan their crime to maximize the probability of success (a bold plot twist
Michael Crichton was always one of those writers that I wanted to just go out and read from the beginning. A while back I might have thought that one would have started with a book called "The Terminal Man" if they wanted to undertake this task. Turns out, Crichton wrote many books before that.

"Odds On" is his first, and is about a group of fellows who meet up in Spain at the Hotel Reina to rob it blind. They use a computer device called CRIPA (standing for "critical path analysis") and run sce
Felipe Lerma
Jun 28, 2014 Felipe Lerma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much better than I expected, fun, very adult but not pornographic, fast, satisfying plot twists.

If it wasn't for State of Fear, which I very recently finished reading, and was the first of Michael's books I've read, this being the second, I may have leaned toward a low 5, but a four star, a very high four star - definitely!

The familiar short shifting scenes between and among characters I'd experienced in State of Fear are, I believe, being honed in this earlier book. There's only a few momentary
Michael Crichton's first novel written under the pseudonym of John Lange while he was in medical school. It's a heist plot, with three professional criminals planning to rob a luxury hotel in Spain. Would have been a better book if it were a hundred pages shorter as there are a lot of scenes with minor characters that add flavor but really don't advance the plot. The middle of the book, where the three thieves are chatting up the hotel guests and gathering information, is basically an excuse for ...more
Deborah Wellenstein
I liked the book. It was published in 1967, so it is dated. Dated attitudes toward women, relationships, drugs, but that's to be expected. A fun little caper adventure-with a fun pay-off-it will be interesting to watch the evolution of Michael Crichton, from John Lange. Dr. Crichton published 8 books under the John Lange name, all written when he was in medical school. (How does one write 8 books while in medical school?)

These are all published under the Hard Case Crime Imprint, which publishes
Matthew Lipson
A compelling read done in the true Micheal Crichton fashion. Exploring what would be new technology in the early to mid-sixties, the characters attempt the perfect crime. Their undoing is blamed on the females they meet. A sexually charged book, the association between their urges and the crime are loose at best. While a nice diversion from the job, they never seem to lose sight on what they are doing. You just can't prepare for all contingencies even when using a computer. Well written and wort ...more
Jul 07, 2013 Larry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Crichton's first published novel, written as John Lange while he was in Medical school, is frankly hilarious. The stereotypes and racy content are amateurish compared to his later works. Nonetheless, it is a fast-paced, not quite thrilling, adventure. If you can answer the following questions, you should enjoy this book. What is a punch card? What is the difference between an exclusive hotel resort and a brothel? Is it possible to drink more than one tiny glass of banana liqueur without ...more
Jason Edwards
Michael Crichton’s first published novel. A crime-caper set on the European coast—serious in tone, but fun to read, quick. A little too much sex, not because this reviewer is a prude, but just because it’s a bit on the gratuitous side, more fantasy than anything else. The references to computer technology at the time it was written, 1966, are almost quaint for today’s reader, although the same could be said for the folkways and mores that also texture the novel’s characters. “Free” via Kindle Un ...more
Joshua Mitchell
This is one of Michael Crichton's first published books and for the plot and story, it was pretty good. It definitely wasn't my favorite Crichton book but it was at least interesting. Three guys plan to rob a hotel based on a computer algorithm predicting the likelihood of success by using certain strategies in a specific order. Will the computer be correct or will everything go haywire? It was interesting and a fast read...
Izzy Wheatley
I love Michael Crichton (writing as John Lange here) however I feel he had not gotten into his stride yet here. It felt he was appeasing a publisher, telling him he needed some sex in order to get the book published. Overall I enjoyed the truly Michael Crichton-esque parts, the in depth planning and research. However it did feel like a cheapened version of him.
Jan 08, 2016 Eduard rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Meh, so so. 1.5 Stars. The idea of the book sounded great. But so many moving parts it was hard to keep track of what was what. I'll try another "John Lange" dime store type novel hoping the next will be better. This pales in comparison to MC's later perfected writing (Jurassiac Park, Disclosure, Rising Sun, etc). I can't recommend this book. Better off sticking to classic Michael Crighcton.
Apr 05, 2016 Jsgestalt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderfully nostalgic book from my favorite writer. This story provided a glimpse at an unfettered Crichton before he was polished, showing all of his natural talent and exploring subject matter not appropriate to the mainstream author. In other words a young med student writes about naughty stuff and it's awesome.
Betty Dickie
This is the second of the John Lange books I've read. They have nothing of the polish and intellectual challenge of Crichton's later books, but they are entertaining, and not bad mysteries. It's just getting used to the fact that in the sixties everyone smoked constantly and women were always ready to be used.
This was a fun, intriguing and fast read. I have only read one other Michael Crichton book (THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY), but so far, I really like his storytelling style!

NOTE: 2015 Reading Challenge -- a popular author's first book.
Jeff Crosby
From the brilliant Timeline to the pathetic Prey, I have found Michael Chricton to be a very uneven author. I thought the idea of a light weight heist from the paperback 1960s might be a fun romp. No. The plot is a twisted mess and over-sexed. Not recommended.
Apr 23, 2014 Bill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Another early Crichton, written under his John Lange pseudonym. My usual complaints apply: interesting idea, not well-executed, with some misogyny and sexism thrown in. I wish Donald Westlake had written this, either as a Parker novel or a Dortmunder. The ending is particularly annoying.
Bryan Dunn
Nov 09, 2013 Bryan Dunn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
You can't judge a book by looking at the cover.
The men are manly, the women are sexy and the prose is purple. Plus, the idea that you can plan the perfect heist to the last detail by using computers programmed via FORTRAN punch cards is hilariously outdated.
Feb 18, 2016 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: caper
A decent caper novel with glimpses of the techno MC would write in the future. It suffered from not having a single strong protagonist.
Jenn Lambert
It started to be a really great story, and I was wondering how he was going to or not pull off a great crime. The end was really kinda disappointing, but intertwined nicely.
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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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