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Zero Cool

3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  573 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
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.
Mass Market Paperback, 192 pages
Published October 1973 by Bantam Books (first published 1969)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dan Schwent
Peter Ross is an American radiologist in Spain for a conference when he's strong-armed into performing an autopsy on a dead gangster. Something is planted inside the corpse's chest cavity and three gangs are vying for it. Can Pete escape the gangs before he becomes another victim?

I have mixed feelings on this Hard Case by John Lange, aka Michael Critchon. On one hand, it has more twists and turns than any Hard Case in recent memory. The writing is crisp. I didn't really know what was going on un
Mark Hebwood
I didn't agonize over whether I was expressing myself; I didn't worry about art; I was writing under a pseudonym, at very high speed. And the usual concerns about the quality or originality of one's output were irrelevant since my explicit goal was to be entirely unoriginal - to write something so perfectly suited to the paperback market that my publishers would buy my work without hesitation. I was engaged in a high-pressure exercise where the goal was absolute unoriginality. [Michael Crichton, ...more
May 05, 2009 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noirboiled
Michael Crichton, posing as John Lange, novelizes a nonexistent Nicholas Cage movie.
originally posted at:

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 schoo

Il Professore, il Conte, l’autopsia

“È così che dovrebbe essere” pensò. “Sole caldo, cibo saporito e donne seducenti. E niente lavoro”. Questo punto era molto importante per Peter Ross, giovane e brillante radiologo americano, in vacanza a Tossa de Mar, in Costa Brava. La Spagna e le sue spiagge piene di donne bellissime sono il suo unico interesse, poiché ha appena completato il suo ciclo di studio e i quattro anni di internato obbligatorio. Il problema è che la probabilità degli eventi indeterm
Apr 25, 2015 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x2014-15-season
A Curio book - John Lange being a pen named used by Michael Crichton in the 60's. Like the other half dozen I've already read it is a good time passer, but this one had two glaring ...inconsistencies?
Toward the end of the novel the author tries to pull off a standard 'you think its one person but its really another!' switch, but it just feels botched. The second problem is the framing device used - the novel has an intro and outro as a fantastic story being told by a grandfather to a grandson -
Kris Frankenberry
Jan 17, 2017 Kris Frankenberry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second John Lange book I have read where Michael Chrichton uses the Hitchcock technique of placing an innocent in the middle of a deadly game with a hard-boiled cast of characters. No matter; it's still a fun trip. I always feel like I an learning something every time I read anything by Michael Crichton. This time its falcons, emeralds and the Alhambra..
Fabrizio Valenza
Interessante soprattutto perché si possono cogliere gli inizi delle tematiche e del metodo di scrittura di Michael Crichton.
Eliz L
Feb 01, 2014 Eliz L rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: treacle
enjoyable, but pretty trashy and inconsistent. read "the venom business" instead.
Sep 23, 2016 Simon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice riff on THE MALTESE FALCON. :-)
Susan Hitchcock
Jan 03, 2017 Susan Hitchcock rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

I should have known when the description of this book included photos
of the author. Silly narcissism. Did he write this when he was 12?
Insultingly amateurish.
Mar 19, 2017 Kelley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Insane plot

Love these fun little mysteries from Michael Crichton. Get a little history and medical lesson, plus there's always a twist you didn't see coming.
Aspen Duncan
Mar 11, 2017 Aspen Duncan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adventure and Fun

Great read. If Indiana Jones and Peter Sellers had a love child raised by disney. Dr gets swept up in a gang war in 1960's spain. Don't trust the ladies!
Peter Ross is a radiologist on vacation in Spain, hoping to pick up girls and relax while “attending” a big medical conference. This is cut short when he agrees to do an autopsy, which he’s not qualified for, and discovers that the dead guy has… something… stuck inside him. Of course, everyone else wants that thing in the dead guy—the “artifact” macguffin—and want Ross, because they think he’s working for one of the other sides. Now he’s caught in a three-way crossfire, dodging rival gangs on hi ...more
Melissa Embry
May 18, 2016 Melissa Embry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, thriller
I've found a new favorite thriller writer who's actually an old favorite -- John Lange, the pseudonym the author better known as Michael Crichton used for the series of mid-20th century mysteries he wrote while in medical school. The fifth of these, Zero Cool, has a swinging '60's, beach party vibe, even while nodding to the still older storytelling tradition of The Maltese Falcon with its quest for a priceless pseudo-historic relic, a sinister fat man and his androgynous sidekick. And its too g ...more
Another of Michael Crichton's early John Lange novels. The plot is intricate and constantly twisting and there is just action scene after action scene and it's all quite cinematic. Unfortunately, at least to my reading taste, more than half the book consists of ridiculous dialogue that barely advances the plot. Crichton spends five pages attempting witty repartee to impart maybe three sentences of information that moves the story along. And repeats this technique over an over throughout the nove ...more
Craig Childs
What I like about the Hard Case Crime imprint is their penchant for uncovering novels with
unique histories. Take, for instance, NOBODY'S ANGEL, which was written by a Chicago cab driver and
for years sold only to his customers out of the back trunk of his cab. Or MEMORY, an unpublished early novel which, had it found a publisher, would have undoubtedly launched Donald Westlake's career in a wholly different direction. THE LAST QUARRY allowed Max Alan Collins to resume a popular pulp series that
Holger Haase
Before he struck it rich with novels, movies and TV series under his real name, Michael Crichton had published a range of thrillers under the nom-de-plume John Lange. The original editions of those are now commanding impressive sums on the second hand market, so it is good to see that these are now being reprinted by Hard Case Crime.

Love the cover of ZERO COOL! Look closely and you will see that the book the girl is reading is actually another John Lange reprint (GRAVE DESCEND).

This is a very fa
May 08, 2008 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulp_fiction
Once in a while, pulp fiction is just what I need. Zero Cool is a great 1960's, summer-of-love, incredibly cheesy storyline that's pure entertainment.

The protagonist is a radiologist in his twenties just finishing his residency and heading off for a month-long vacation among liquor and loose women on the beaches of Spain. But, almost the minute he arrives, he is sucked into some kind of weird spy v. spy conspiracy searching for a lost artifact, a la The Maltese Falcon. If it weren't for the che
Jason Edwards
If you’re a Harvard medical student who’s more or less brilliant, top of your class and all that, so smart that you’ve even had several pulp-novels published, what should you do next? Maybe go to Nice, lie in the sun, play with the babes? But for someone so brilliant and imaginative, wouldn’t that get kind of dull without a plot so full of intrigue it could only be found in one of your own novels? So why not write another one? Might as well. Might as well live in a fantasy world, since the real ...more
Mar 29, 2016 Helen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would have liked this audio book more, but spread it out too long since I only listen while I walk alone and lately I've been walking with Ann or Larry. Anyway it was about Dr. Ross who was going on vacation to Spain. There he meets a girl on the beach who brings him into a crazy emerald hunt. Since he is a doctor they kidnap him to do an autopsy on a body with an emerald hidden in it. So he does it, but then they body goes missing and he is arrested and kidnapped again. Several people are loo ...more
Tim Potter
Jan 10, 2015 Tim Potter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chrichton
This novel originally appeared in 1970 and lacks any scientific forethought, nor does it contain any plot elements that would factor into later novels, as many of his earliest works do. That doesn’t detract from the entertainment value of this action-adventure tale set in the fictional Ochos Rios, in the Bahamian part of the world. The beautiful backdrop serves as the setting to a tale of sunken treasure and a life and death attempt to control the treasure. The awkward wording of the title is ea ...more
Aug 01, 2011 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fan of 60s spy novels a& pulp adventure
Recommended to Robert by: Dollar store find
Shelves: hard-case-crime
I will add my voice to a few others that have commented that this book is fun, fast read that ultimately is as breezy as those long ago 60s summers that it portrays. An early Michael Crichton novel, written under his John Lange pseudonym, it is pure pulp adventure. It has more than a touch of Ian Fleming's James Bond to it, as well as a healthly dose of prime Alfred Hitchcock characterization in the protagonist, Dr. Peter Ross. And once the novel started with the twists and turns, even the girl ...more
It's pretty clear how Lange came up with his plot- he got drunk one night watching the Maltese Falcon, then tried to figure out how to shoehorn Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre into a book of his own. Zero Cool has Zero Luck at matching, or even approaching, Bogey and Hammet's style. It lurches from scene to scene with little finesse, and less sense. (Particularly in the case of one near-Bondian villain, The Professor, who speaks in psuedo-mathematical garble like a poser geek tr ...more
Jul 06, 2009 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
First of all, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this hard-edged novel. But it was written in 1969 and baby it shows. The plot is tight and keeps you guessing, but the touchstones are all solid sixties and date the book perhaps more than they should. As I read, I kept on wondering: "which of the books I love today are going to seem as dated in forty years?" But this is some fun escapism and if you enjoy dime-store detective novels, you'll most likely enjoy it. I think that some of our more r ...more
Chris Rhatigan
I found an older, mass market paperback edition of this title in a wonderful used bookstore in Rochester for $2. Crichton (here under a pseudonym) has assembled a by-the-numbers adventure-thriller complete with wooden dialogue, boring characters, and a ludicrous premise. Nevertheless, his ability to push the conflict on every page combined with the careful placement and teasing out of several tiny mysteries makes this an enjoyable way to pass the time.
Dec 22, 2012 Bill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't aware that was an early Michael Crichton novel. I am a fan of the Hard Case Crime series which is usually good but this one of the clunkers. It is, as one reviewer also noted, a pretty bad imitation of The Maltese Falcon with stock villians even Warner Brothers would have blushed at using. You can see elements of later Chrichton novels here which I imagine is the only reason it was republished.
Aug 26, 2012 Neal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall a pretty fun, quick read. I liked the oddball characters, the quick narration and the dialogue was solid enough for an early effort of fiction. The parallels to Maltese Falcon cannot be denied, the plot has flaws and the characters are thinly developed. That said I read this on a flight and it's a really good book for that kind of reading need. Would rat it slightly higher than a three if I could, but falls a bit short of four stars for the reasons mentioned.
Dec 24, 2012 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty fun little novel, though not especially original or unpredictable. The ending particularly is a little bit of an eye-roller, but most of the book pulls you through all right. The main character, a persistently victemized persona, does come off as pretty dumb throughout. I like that he still insists on wanting to do his part in the conference he is supposed to attend despite the ridculous events that tangle him up. Anyway, good fun.
Feb 01, 2014 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another early Crichton published under his John Lange pseudonym. As usual, it's vaguely entertaining and yet utterly implausible. He starts with a decent noir framework but then piles on a ridiculous number of plot twists that leave me wanting something simpler. The prologue and epilogue may have been added by him when Hard Case reissued this in 2006.
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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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