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A Case of Need

3.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  14,552 Ratings  ·  463 Reviews
Written as Jeffery Hudson in 1968.
A Case of Need is Michael Crichton's award-winning debut novel, written shortly after he completed his medical internship. Set against the ever-building pressure and pace of a large Boston medical center, the tensions flare-and explode-when a surgical operation tragically ends in death, raising countless questions. Was it accidental malpra
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Paperback, 416 pages
Published August 5th 2003 by Signet (first published 1968)
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Supersagebrod If you enjoy shows like Grey's Anatomy of ER, I would strongly recommend you to read it.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Claudia
Jul 29, 2008 Claudia rated it really liked it
Crichton's first published book. PUblished when he was 26. Oh, the envy. You can really see his medical training here, as well as the unavoidable road to his eventual creation of ER.
I'm a sucker for a book that I'll learn something from and this one has footnotes and appendices for further medical background and explanations. There is a good look into the behind the scenes of a hospital.

The plot revolves around the issue of abortion in the late sixties. I'm guesstimating at the year because it
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Miloš
May 10, 2016 Miloš rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
I really liked it. Fast paced, interesting and with unexpected turn at the end. Little unrealistic that one doctor can go around and does what John Berry did, and that's the only reason for my 4 stars review.
Nikki
1968. I was in college near Boston. One of my housemates, a girl I didn't know well, was pregnant. Her roommate learned that the ex-boyfriend and father, a pre-med student, was planning to perform an amateur abortion. This was 5 years before Roe v. Wade. My housemates, all urban people, were galvanized into action, calling friends and even their mothers to locate a safe abortionist. I really had nothing to contribute except hand-wringing. The girl eventually decided to have the baby, and I think ...more
John Mcconahey
If you’re a doctor, you’ll probably love this book. After all, Crichton attended Harvard Medical School and is certainly knowledgeable of the medical practices and techniques in effect at the time of publication (1968). If you’re a determined layman, have a dictionary close at hand while you follow this plot. Just be aware, this isn’t a book for fast reading (if you really want to know what the terms that are used mean) and it's heavily footnoted and apendicized. But, don’t let that discourage y ...more
Barbara
Nov 30, 2008 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like medical suspense novels.
Shelves: fiction-mystery
This is the first Michael Crichton book I've read, and I couldn't put it down. The pervading theme was the moral and ethical decisions doctors had to make concerning abortions -- performing them, knowingly not reporting (and, in fact, covering for)reputable doctors who performed them in hospital settings. This book was originally published under the name of Jeffery Hudson in 1968 when abortion was still illegal in the USA, and may have been intended to stir the public to legalize it. I personall ...more
Franco
Apr 03, 2008 Franco rated it really liked it
This book would be classified under, “Medical Fiction” because it deals with medical surgeons, and doctors trying to unravel the mystery of the murder or suicide of Karen Randall. Dr. Lee a young pathologist is accused of an illegal abortion. Art Lee’s lawyer didn’t want to deal with the case so he abandoned him with no help. When John Berry heard about this crisis he came to help his friend and try to find the real story of the death of Karen Randall. As he finds later in the novel, the history ...more
Ilana
Jan 07, 2013 Ilana rated it really liked it
Overall a very enjoyable read. For me it was a fantastic insight into the behaviours and attitudes of the time. The beginnings of black people emerging into a predominately white society, the role of women, views on coloured immigrants, the climate of the time, the attitudes towards abortion. A fantastic picture of the time was painted.

I was happy to note that even the protagonist was imperfect in his ways and it came through naturally, not as if it had been added for flavour. All characters we
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Windie
Mar 09, 2012 Windie rated it really liked it
Shelves: thrillers
This book started really well. There was a dead patient, a daughter of a famous doctor and a friend of the protagonist was accused doing the abortion that led to the death of the patient.
It was intriguing (though I am not sure that a layman could enjoy reading it uninterrupted without consulting google or dictionary) and the plot was built really well.
Half through the book, I have to admit that I couldn't put it down until I finished
My problem with this book is there was some unsolved mysteries
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Annika
Aug 13, 2008 Annika rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I like medical fiction....medical thrillers really, and this is just okay. It's more like he's SHOWING you a story instead of telling you a story.

It's very dated. Written in 1968, when abortion was illegal. The names are dated, the way they dress, some of the settings. Why would a random middle aged guy be allowed to sit in a girl's dorm alone to "question" her without suspicions being raised? Some of line of med and law is blurred.

It's an ok read. It passes quickly.

Jose  Seco Sanz
Dec 28, 2015 Jose Seco Sanz rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller, fiction
Great book. I'm always amazed (and envious) when I see how young some of my favorite authors were when they wrote some books I have loved. I think Michael was 26 when he wrote this. It doesn't fit into my head that I could write like this when I was 26. I don't think I could write like this now.
Anyway, a good thriller, good pace, intriguing case, good research and explanations. To me, it feels like a bit of a trick, because I think the reader could never guess for sure who was the culprit.
Well,
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Victor Sonkin
Reread: the first novel by Michael Crichton, who is best known for Jurassic Park the movie (which was way, way inferior to JP the book) and ER, the ur-mother of today's TV show boom. A young girl dies in EW (=ER) from loss of blood, seemingly from a botched abortion (the setting seems to be mid-1960s Boston, and abortion is illegal —this is a world before Roe v. Wade (1973), and, certainly, a book that was one of the paving blocks toward it. The victim allegedly named Dr. Art Lee, who is America ...more
Joseph Perkins Jr.
A Case of Need by Michael Crichton is a fast paced thrilling medical drama. Originally written in the 60's when Crichton was just in the beginning stages of his writing career, Crichton penned this novel under the pseudonym Jeffery Hudson. Although penned under an alias Crichton packs this novel with all the action, suspense, and medical drama that we've come to expect from him. A Case of Need centers around Karen Randall who has died from a botched abortion. Was it murder or negligence? The Ran ...more
The Black Hat Writer
Aug 15, 2015 The Black Hat Writer rated it it was ok
A quick-paced, medical mystery with a lot of bit-part characters to distract you: that's my take on Michael Crichton's A Case of Need. Loaded with padded dialogue and esoteric terminology, this book dances the line between medical drama and crime novel without much definition to tell the difference. I commend him for tackling a subject that was a hot button at the time; and, I can also appreciate the attempted genre-split, but I think the novel would have benefited from just being a medical dram ...more
Joy Urban
May 22, 2014 Joy Urban rated it really liked it
There are two prominent creases in the spine of this book because for the most part, I read it in three long sittings. That seems to happen a lot with Crichton & me; two is a coincidence, three is a pattern, and this is his third work that I have read.

I'm still surprised it was one of the first things he ever wrote, and I had to keep reminding myself that this was written by a med student, and in 1968 to boot. Then he uses the word "Negro" consistently to describe one of the two black charac
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Viji Sarath (Bookish endeavors)
Crichton.. The name is enough to make me read the book.. That's how much I like his works.. This one is his first.. Ohh..! The thrill I felt when I started reading the book..!! This is from where my favorite author began his journey..!!!
The plot was good,but I recognized the perpetrator as soon as that person was brought into the plot. So I can't say I felt the thrill till the end,but it was fun reading it. As usual,he is showing off his expertise but in no way does it stop a general reader from
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Sean Brennan
Jun 30, 2015 Sean Brennan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
A good medical crime story, that at the time, no doubt upset quite a few readers as it's subject the illegality of ABORTION has always been a reasonable debate as far as the American Right is concerned(do they even have a Left). Also of interest this was also the First Hugo Award Winner or Nominee to use the expletive FUCK. I guess in 1968 'times really were a-changing'
Kevin Beary
Dec 13, 2008 Kevin Beary rated it liked it
Michael Crichton , a favorite author of mine`s , first book. I have read some favorable amazon reviews but must differ from them. I gave it a 3 rating so I liked it as the book kept my interest and I enjoyed the medical knowledge (or future knowledge when I look up a half-dozen items) it contained. But , the drama of his later books are clearly superior , and I think it is obvious that this is a weaker precursor of greater things to come. Some touted the plot twists , or the writing , or the con ...more
Deborah Leitch
Dec 31, 2013 Deborah Leitch rated it liked it
Although I am a Michael Crichton fan, I found this story quite disappointing. The lack of a villain to drive the plot leaves the main character stumbling across clues, and making assumptions for which there was no foretelling. It lacks the conflict and tension that his usual stories have. The other distracting feature is that in spite of his being a physician and his including multiple appendixes to explain medical terminology, the actual medical scenes are completely unrealistic and would never ...more
Sarah
Aug 06, 2011 Sarah rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book bc it was about the taboo topic of abortion. The characters were well developed and the main character of John Berry was interesting to follow. Another thing i really enjoyed about this book was the scattering of medical jargon within the text. It was like a reality episode of ER or some other popular medical drama. Although i have seen the subject of an abortion going wrong and the patient dying, this was a very good perception. The one thing that wasn't believable was the t ...more
Little
Mar 16, 2011 Little rated it liked it
It might just be pregnant brain, but I had a hard time keeping the characters straight in this novel. There were a number of really important people (one in particular) who were briefly introduced, and then I had forgotten who they were by the time they showed up again at critical junctions. Also, reading as someone who is anti-death in a context where abortion is the accepted norm, the story seems a little less than timely. I know it was topical when it was published, but 30 years is a long tim ...more
Lany
Aug 23, 2010 Lany rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Too medical. Lots of medical terms. Sometimes the story doesn't even explain the terms. It just went thru with it and I can only hope that it will revealed later on. Sometimes too exhausted to read.

Sames as Disclosure, this story is outlined to have be done within the week. So the tempo is quite fast, though sometimes it's just too confusing to follow the main character "interogating" other characters. I think that the many characters were meant to distract the reader to know who the bad guy is
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Kellie
Sep 05, 2012 Kellie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Michael Crichton - Jurrassic Park anyone? This book came from the never-ending magical box o' paperbacks my neighbor gave me and I was pleasantly surprised. It is Crichton's debut novel and was written in the late sixties. Surprisingly, the time frame didn't bother me and was really a non-factor. It was a classic medical who-dun-it with a large (too large) cast of characters and a regular guy trying to figure things out. Didn't much care about any of the characters, but the story held my ...more
Brek Smith
Oct 14, 2015 Brek Smith rated it really liked it
Thought provoking for sure
Linnae
Apr 25, 2015 Linnae rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-suspense
John Berry is a pathologist in Boston, and has helped cover up some illegal abortions done by his friend, Dr. Art Lee. When the daughter of a prominent doctor dies from a botched abortion, Dr. Lee is blamed and taken into custody. However, Berry knows that his friend didn't do it. So he sets out to figure out who did. Along the way he gets all kinds of conflicting stories of the deceased girl, along with uncovering more deception and corruption of all kinds.

Well written. Content note: there's m
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Diego
Sep 10, 2014 Diego rated it liked it
Having already read quite a few Michael Crichton books, I can tell that if I hadn't known this book was his before reading it, I could easily have told after reading only a few pages.

Already at the time (1968) he had pretty much mastered his style of writing, having a great way to balance descriptions, personal thoughts by the main character, and really really good dialogues, here mainly in the form of interrogation scenes.

What wasn't the best were the characters. Now don't get me wrong, I think
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Πάνος Τουρλής
Αχ Θε μου αυτός ο Κράιτον. Δεύτερο βιβλίο που διαβάζω κι έχω πάνω κάτω την ίδια άποψη με το Μετά. Τώρα είναι ακόμη χειρότερα τα πράγματα μιας και το βιβλίο το έγραψε τη δεκαετία του 1960, με ψευδώνυμο και μάλιστα όντας φοιτητής της Ιατρικής. Λοιπόν το βιβλίο γενικά είναι κάπως καλό. Η υπόθεση μπορεί να σε παρασύρει και να αναρωτιέσαι για το δολοφόνο. ΟΜΩΣ....Προχειρογραμμένο, χωρίς βάθος χαρακτήρων, χωρίς αναλύσεις, κινηματογραφικοί διάλογοι και ΠΟΛΥ ιατρική ορολογία, δηλαδή έλεος. Σε πολλά σημε ...more
Lavonne
Jul 15, 2013 Lavonne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is was Michael Crichton's first published novel written under a pseudonym. To many characters that I really didn't care about set in the 60's about a doctor trying to prove his friend was innocent of a botched illegal abortion. It try's to raise the ethical and moral questions of the legality of abortion through the eyes of the medical profession. It was a quick and forgettable read that showed that Michael Crichton's writing got better with age and experience. My favorite is still The Prey ...more
TheKesser
I very much enjoyed this book! It didn't take me too long to read it and I really found it interesting to read especially since it's been so long since he wrote it, plus so many things have changed.

I'm not a doctor so his explanations for everything really helped me understand the novel. I always find his books very easy to read and interesting and this one continued to be that way. I liked the characters were easy to remember and some of them were very interesting people. I do wish the main ch
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Alisha
May 19, 2016 Alisha rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Felipe Lerma
Jan 25, 2015 Felipe Lerma rated it really liked it
This is the fourth early Michael Crichton novel (penned as Jeffery Hudson) I've read since the first book I read of his, "State of Fear." I'm working my way through his other-name work to get a feel for how his writing developed. So far, each of the four first early books have a distinctive feel of being different somehow. Yes, there's meticulous scientific or historical research and details. And most of all, a sense of authority and calm power in the prose. Yet each story is its own.

"A Case of
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“Morality must keep up with technology because if a person is faced with the choice of being moral and dead or immoral and alive, they'll choose life everytime.” 17 likes
“One reason abortion remained illegal was because it was so safe.” 6 likes
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