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Drug of Choice

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On a secret island in the Caribbean, bioengineers have devised a vacation resort like no other, promising the ultimate escape. But when Dr. Roger Clark investigates, he discovers the dark secret of Eden Island and of Advance Biosystems, the shadowy corporation underwriting it...

208 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1970

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About the author

John Lange

20 books181 followers
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.

Librarian's note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

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5 stars
416 (19%)
4 stars
700 (32%)
3 stars
697 (32%)
2 stars
239 (11%)
1 star
70 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 203 reviews
Profile Image for Scott.
517 reviews
July 20, 2018
This one started out pretty good. A doctor notices some bizarre side effects in a couple of his patients, determines there's some kind of new drug out there, and investigates. The trail leads to a shady corporation running a mysterious resort on a secret island. In the second half it seems to lose focus, however. Turns out none of that stuff is really the point of the mystery. Still, it was never boring, and I plan to continue with these Crichton/Lange books.
Profile Image for Josh.
1,636 reviews148 followers
September 26, 2017
Of the Hardcase Crime re-prints of Michael Crichton's earlier works under the pen name John Lange, I'd only read BINARY - a tech-pulp that really didn't do it for me at the time. Luckily, DRUG OF CHOICE did. It's a quick read that sucks you in from the opening sequence and morphs into a paranoid alternate state of reality as the world viewed through protagonist Dr. Roger Clark's eyes clouds and then turns a semi transparent liquid red.

Despite it's linear narrative and single thread plot devise, there is actually a lot happening in this book - one rife for the inner conspiracy theorists as terror and thrills spill into the medicinal landscape through a wonder drug that replaces reality with trickery.

Crichton, while penning this pulp in the tech vein, doesn't bog it down with jargon or overtly technical and scientific terms, making it all the more consumable.

As a quick form of escapism that's a near one sitting read, DRUG OF CHOICE is the book of choice.

Review also appears on my blog: http://justaguywholikes2read.blogspot...
Profile Image for Andrew.
2,192 reviews
February 10, 2019
Okay this book was exactly what I needed - so its getting this rating for that if nothing else (well I also enjoyed it). I was in a bit of a slump well for me at least and I had this book at the bottom of my bag (come on who else does not leave the house without something to read) so I decided to dig it out and give it a go.

Okay this is one of a number of titles in the Hard Case series by the pseudonym author used by Michael Crichton. They were written before he found fame and fortune - this one was written in 1970 - and as such is listed here as John Lange (his real name is plastered all over the book cover so strange its not mentioned here).

The book is a fun fast and intriguing book - it certainly caught my attention from the first chapter and really kept up the speed. True it was a little shallow on the story - there was a lot going on in the 200 plus pages - possibly too much which meant that although the pace was frenetic the detail was sometimes a little hasty.

However like I say it is what I needed at the time and you can certainly see the fledgling giant of an author in there. This series of reprints of his early works - some of which I do not believe have seen print for a while is a great way of not only reading some fun pulp action but also seeing an author polish his skills - after all Jurassic Park is one of my all time favourites second only to the Andromeda Strain.
Profile Image for Martin.
25 reviews1 follower
January 13, 2015
There was enough here to keep my interest but not much to remember afterwards. Decent story. Poor character development. That's about it.

The fact that Michael Crichton wrote this under the pen name John Lange while attending medical school is impressive to say the least. There is also a surprising amount of medical and scientific accuracy here which I am assuming is not too typical of most pulp-fiction novels. However, neither of these are quite captivating enough to be considered real selling points.

Thank you Goodreads First Reads and Titan Books for a free copy of this book.
Profile Image for Bernadette.
114 reviews20 followers
February 18, 2014

I received this book from Goodreads first reads.This was a strange story. Very interesting and kept me reading throughout the night.It was an earlier book in Michael Crichton's career.It was eerie to read some of the things that happen now,in this book.That was amazing and what a sense of future that the author had.If you are a fan of his and never read this I suggest it highly.If you have not read any of his work, then I would certainly recommend this book as good read.Enjoy!!
878 reviews8 followers
July 12, 2018
I really miss Michael Crighton. He is one of my favorite authors and Sphere and Andromeda Strain are some of my favorite books. So learning he wrote under a pseudonym made me very happy. Written in the late 60s and early 70s, these books got him through college (there was a nice bit of history at the end of the book). Although not current, they are still entertaining and enjoyable, especially if you love his work!
Profile Image for Eddie Generous.
652 reviews77 followers
December 2, 2021
That was a good one. Tons of intrigue and surprises. Amazing that a snapshot of society made in 1969 looks so, so similar now.
Profile Image for Tony Laplume.
Author 46 books33 followers
December 26, 2022
Science runs amok…! Michael Crichton, writing early in his career as John Lange, before dedicating himself to fiction, before coming up with his famous outlandish plots, when he wrote standard thrillers, comes Drug of Choice, which is just like so much other fiction of later years and decades, including the ultimate experience in the TV show Fringe, but also the paranoid realities of The Matrix, the mad resorts of Old…So you see, this is familiar material all around, but Crichton as he was so dependably once more proves a master of the form.

…Just don’t worry too much if you suspect the fiction of fifty years ago turned into the reality of today…Or was all along…!
Profile Image for Peter Bosson.
245 reviews1 follower
January 27, 2014
Growing up I was a huge fan of Michael Crichton so learning that several books he wrote early in his career (under a pseudonym) were being re-released made me very excited. Before starting this book I mentally prepared myself for the fact that it was written while he was still a student so it may not be Crichton's best work. I was very pleased to find that it was actually quite good, I would've given it 3 1/2 stars if Goodreads allowed half stars. The book is classic Crichton, fast paced with lots of technical jargon and big ideas. Some of the science is pretty standard stuff today but back in the late sixties when it was written this would be revolutionary. It reads like a pulp spy novel but with a doctor as its hero. My only real complaint is that the book feels rushed, especially in the end. Like I said before the book has a lot of great ideas, it just could've used a few hundred (at least) more pages to explore them. I look forward to reading the rest of these re-released books and seeing his progression as an author.

I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
Profile Image for Jeffrey.
64 reviews2 followers
December 27, 2015
I was hoping for more from "The Med School Years" as this early Michael Crichton book is promoted as. Crichton was an author who got better as he went (I thought The Andromeda Strain had a weak ending, and I didn't care much for The Terminal Man much at all). Still, two of his early works, A Case of Need and the non-fiction Five Patients were quite good. Instead, this is a popcorn thriller, not the techno-thriller that Crichton is famous for.

A doctor encounters two cases of comatose patients with the odd side effect of bright blue urine. As he investigates the cause, he gets pulled into the world of the book, where the line between reality and fantasy is blurred to the point where nothing may be as it seems.

Stick to Crichton's later works.
Profile Image for Erin.
278 reviews19 followers
September 26, 2018
Read for the "Book with an Ugly Cover" prompt of the Popsugar Reading Challenge, as well as my quest to read/re-read every Michael Crichton book by the end of 2020.

I know a lot of people rag on these "Med School Years" books by Crichton, but I really enjoyed this! I felt like there were enough twists and turns to keep my interest, and it was an extremely quick read. In the ebook of this there were a few editing mistakes/typos, but nothing too egregious. I was dreading reading this because many of the reviews were so negative, but now I can't wait to crack into the rest of them.

Crichton Books Read: 1/28
Profile Image for Natelle.
395 reviews1 follower
September 24, 2019
A young doctor finds himself pulled into a interesting offshoot of the drug world when he consults on cases with an unusual symptom, blue urine. As he tries to discover the cause, he finds much more. A beautiful actress invites him to an exclusive resort. A prosperous company offers him a high level position. But can he trust any of this? Can he trust himself?

Lange skillfully weaves together the threads of this story. At first you are as bewildered as the main character. Then you find answers to some questions and more questions to replace them. A quick read, this novel leaves one wishing for a few more chapters.
187 reviews
October 7, 2021
I loved this book, couldn't put it down. Fast moving, interesting, feasible. Hard to believe it was written in 1970 as seems contemporary and relevant to life in current times, not 50 years ago.

The story revolves around a doctor who encounters two unusual (similar) cases in a short space of time and gets drawn in to a sinister world of corporate scientific drug experiments. But if that sounds a dull and stereotypical type of story, it isn't. This is a great book, great pace, great story - very inventive, cracking tempo. Can't wait to read more of his books.
Profile Image for Mikey P. Jr.
65 reviews
March 28, 2020
I had high hopes for this story even though it was before Michael Crichton made a name for himself. The first half was pretty damn entertaining but the second half was struggling to keep me entertained. Regardless I’m still going to dig up every single thing this man wrote including more John Lange stuff.

Love the old school cover though.
Profile Image for Conor.
132 reviews
June 14, 2022
Not a bad read from the creator of Jurassic Park. However, some of the descriptions of the women in the book were, to be kind, less than ideal. It definitely reflected a more misogynistic society. Another reminder to smash the patriarchy.
Profile Image for itchy.
1,703 reviews26 followers
July 25, 2017
now, that's one scary concept

got lucky and found this floating around;
still far from completing crichton's work, though
Profile Image for Kyriakos Sorokkou.
Author 6 books195 followers
May 5, 2020

«I began writing as a medical student, and felt that I would continue as a doctor and ought to protect my patients from the fear that they might pop up in the pages of a thriller. The best protection would not be to disguise them, but to disguise me. Once I decided not to practice medicine, I dropped the pseudonyms expect for convenience. I wrote too much, so I decided to publish some books under false names, and in that way, could publish more books.»

And that's how Michael Crichton began his writing career. One of my favourite and most read authors. The creator of Jurassic Park, Westworld and ER, among many others.

From the summer of 2011 until November 2018, I read 19 of the 32 books he published. November 2018 was the 10th anniversary of his death. That's when I decided to do a project dedicated to Crichton. One book per month for the next 32 months.

The thrillers he wrote as a medical student between 1966 and 1972 under the pseudonym John Lange were eight, and with the exception of the last one he wrote in 1972 (the year he decided to publish under his own name something that lasted until his death,) were a large part of his bibliography that I had not read. So I ordered them all in one go.

Every time I need to review one of these I'll repeat this general introduction about his early writings rather than extensive reviews on each individual book.

Because beyond the interest of reading early works of your favourite author, reading what he wrote and seeing his writing slowly evolving, they are not masterpieces and you cannot dedicate more than five lines for their sake. It's like Schwarzenegger movies. You are having a good time and that's it. And I also didn't want to confuse you every second day with a new book by Crichton.

They were written quickly and, as he said, he wrote them to gain money to pay for utilities and groceries while he was a student.

They are not masterpieces as I mentioned above, but their writing was something like writing exercises, a writing with which in the medical thriller A Case of Need (that he wrote in 1968 under another pseudonym (Jeffery Hudson)) gained the Edgar Award in 1969.

A year in which he published for the first time under his own name one of his best novels, the science fiction thriller The Andromeda Strain, which was made into a film in 1971.
In 1970 he and his brother Douglas Crichton co-wrote another hippie thriller under a common pseudonym Michael Douglas (Dealing, or The Berkeley-To-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues). This would be his third and final nickname.
In 1972, with The Terminal Man under his own name, he realised that his career was now a writer, not a doctor, so he put the pseudonym in the bottom drawer.

The eight books he wrote as John Lange remained out of stock since the late 1970s until the publishing house Hard Case Crime began publishing out of stock and hard-to-find books in the noir, thriller, detective, and generally pulp fiction categories.

Among them are books published for the first time such as Joyland and The Colorado Kid by Stephen King.

While Crichton was still alive, two of his books, Grave Descend and Zero Cool, were edited by him.
In November 2008, unfortunately, Crichton passed away, so in 2013 the remaining 6 books were released.

Because I don't want to tire you out anymore and give you acute Crichtoniasis, I'll talk briefly about this one.

Drug of Choice 1970: read June 2019
On a secret island in the Caribbean there is the perfect luxury resort. Dr. Roger Clark, who want to learn more, discovers that behind the luxury and entertainment lies a shadowy company that produces experimental drugs. Influences from H. G. Wells (The Island of Dr. Moreau)

More in Greek at βιβλιοαλχημείες
314 reviews1 follower
May 8, 2021

Written during a highly prolific time in Michael Crichton’s career, and to support his medical studies, Drug of Choice is one of the eight novels that he wrote under the pseudonym of John Lange between 1966 and 1972.
Drug of Choice is not the deepest of novels, nor is it the longest or the most complicated, but what it does, it does well, although the build-up is let down by a slightly rushed denouement and too many gaping plot holes if it was to be studied academically.
Dr Roger Clarke is presented with two new patients. One a Hell’s Angel biker, the other an up and coming actress. They have little in common except for their symptoms, they are both comatose, and their urine is blue.
However, as he digs deeper, he comes into Advance Biosystems orbit and a lucrative job offer. He has tickets booked for a holiday in Mexico, but when his travel agent tells him about the newly opened Eden Island, his curiosity is piqued.
The island is in the middle of nowhere and is in the early stages of development, but as Clarke soon discovers, it offers the deepest desires of its guests through both drugs and suggestions from the staff. When his drugs wear off, Clarke discovers that Eden Island is actually just a rain-soaked place in the middle of the sea, the guests are all under the influence of the drugs, and there is no escape for him.
When the sound of a tuning fork controls things, Clarke discovers the science behind the drugs, and he also finds that while it can be used to benefit patients, the reverse is also true, as a painful episode shows later.
As things escalate, Clarke finds that he can no longer trust his friends, fellow medical practitioners, and his claims about a fantasy island will not be believed by the police. As the book ends, we find Clarke blowing up the buildings of Advance Biosystems.
Although Drug of Choice does not measure up to Crichton later works, such as Jurrasic Park, films like Twister, or televisual behemoth ER, it is a good experiment, blending elements of 1970’s Paranoid thriller, love story, crime thriller and medical drama.
Profile Image for Craig Childs.
789 reviews10 followers
February 24, 2015
Michael Crichton supported himself in med school by writing paperback originals under the pen name John Lange. Drug of Choice centers on Roger Clark, a Los Angeles doctor who stumbles onto a dangerous new recreational drug that puts its users into a coma. His investigation soon leads him to a shadowy corporation intent on controlling mankind through science.

This was meant to be a quick read, shallow but enjoyable. Lots of action, pretty girls, some plot twists thrown in for good measure—just don’t think too hard because there are also a lot of gaping plot holes.

Drug of Choice is perhaps a cut above the other John Lange books I’ve read. There are shades of Crichton’s eventual hit TV show ER, as the main character is a hospital resident trying to solve a medical mystery. The story is also effective as satire of Hollywood’s designer drug culture and America’s obsession with pop science.

It’s not really fair to dismiss this (and other Lange novels) as simply Crichton’s amateur apprenticeship, as other reviewers have done. Even at this age, Crichton was clearly capable of better stories. After all, by the time this novel came out, A Case of Need had already won an Edgar award under a different pseudonym, and Andromeda Strain had become a bestseller under the author’s own name. These Lange books were actually well-crafted to be precisely what they are: mindless, campy, escapist entertainment. Crichton said in an interview the Lange books were written to be sold at airports and to compete with in-flight movies for the reader’s attention for a couple of hours. By this criterion I would have to say Drug of Choice succeeds very well.
Profile Image for Oli Turner.
255 reviews2 followers
December 26, 2021

It’s become a Christmas tradition of mine to get a Michael Crichton novel on Christmas Day. It started in 1999 with timeline, and continued for a number of years with state of fear, pirate latitudes and micro. Then for the last few years I have been working through his older works in chronological order, particularly with the help of hard case crime Odds on, scratch one etc (with a little break for dragon teeth in 2017). This year it’s drug of choice which is really fantastic for such a short novel. An intriguing mystery with a great premise that lays the foundations for many of the ideas that michael crichton would continue to explore with his later work. It starts like an episode of ER (which is fitting as this book seems to fall in the period of his medical school years) then steps into areas that would be developed later in Jurassic Park (island resort) and westworld (psychological manipulation of guests) while including elements that make me think of the matrix (nature of reality) as well as some commentary on the pharmaceutical industry which seems quite prescient in December 2021 considering it was published 50 years before in 1970. Crichton was always ahead of his time.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
5,147 reviews187 followers
June 26, 2018
I liked this book. Mr. Lange shows that you don't need to have over the top dramatics or lots of violence to produce a good book. Although, I did feel like the intensity level was only turned half way. There could have been a bit of a bigger punch. However, considering the time period when this book was written, it is appropriate for that time period.

Dr. Clark shows that curiosity can almost kill the cat. He found himself in over his head. The scariest thing about this book is the experiments that were taking place on the island. What with all of the "fad" diets and such that people are joining; I can see some people signing up to be part of the experiment. Drug of Choice is worth your choice for something to read.
Profile Image for Garrett Hamblin.
99 reviews
January 13, 2018
This is about as lite as pulp fiction gets. As ridiculous though much of the story is, it's never really bad. Drug of Choice is a bizarre tale of a pharmaceutical company creating a drug-induced alternate reality pill. The author rushes through his story, with much of it barely sketched out. Even so, Chrighton keeps the tension nicely high and while the premise may be quite absurd, it touches upon enough basic human fears, of personal and corporate control and, to be pretty effective.
Drug of Choice is entirely disposable pass-time reading. But it works as a completely undemanding thriller.
Profile Image for Brian.
97 reviews6 followers
July 2, 2021
I'm no fan of Jurassic Park or The Lost World, though did like The Andromeda Strain. Anway, I must admit I only bought this as it a was a couple of quid in a local charity shop and I always snap up paperback Hard Case Crime novels, even if I have my reservations about the author's / book's potential. This is great value, in both senses. The medical jargon is pure gobbledygook, but the story arc keeps things moving nicely while the protagonist is likeable and relatable. It's only 200 pages long, with lots of chapter breaks, so could easily be read in one sitting. Enjoy !
481 reviews2 followers
September 26, 2016
An early Michael Crichton book, raw as you would expect because he was still finding his way as a writer, but entertaining. The premise is interesting if somewhat half-basked (no pun intended, considering the title). Worth a read though if you want a breezy techno-thriller, keeping in mind this was written in the early 1970s.
Profile Image for Dwayne Roberts.
357 reviews41 followers
September 26, 2019
Unexceptional early work by Crichton. The main character in particular seemed quite flat, unemotional, boring.
Profile Image for Bilbo Nobwank.
17 reviews
February 16, 2023
I feel a bit cruel leaving a one star review when I barely got a chapter or two into this one, before abandoning shit [typo intended!]. But this was dire. I don't think I've read any Michael Chrichton before. But, with him being such a well known author, I was expecting this to at least be well written. And the plot sounded interesting.

Instead, what I read of this was like a school essay. I can't believe it was written as recently as 1970. The dialogue coming from the menacing Hell's Angel hospital visitor in the first chapter was like my Granny's idea of what a nasty person would sound like.

That was risible enough. But then, in the second chapter, we got introduced to the obligatory stunningly gorgeous "Hawt Babe" actress, who was brought in, in a coma.

"Oh. I wonder if she's going to fancy our hero the doctor?" wondered absolutely nobody, nowhere. And, surprise surprise! barely had the actress opened her eyes after coming out of her coma, when she told Carter [the doctor and our hero] "You're cute", asked him to walk her to her car and then invited him to a sex party.

Sometimes when you read a book, you get the idea that the author is trying to make up for the fact that, as a young swot, he never got off with any girls at school and used to regularly get his head flushed down the bogs --by making his hero simultaneously brilliant at some swotty job [author, doctor, scientist] whilst simultanously being hard as nails and a veritable fanny magnet.

I'm afraid I find those heroes nearly as tedious as the "ex special forces, loose cannon, hard as nails fanny magnets". Just let me read about "normal" believable people, please!

Profile Image for David Caldwell.
1,673 reviews32 followers
January 27, 2019
John Lange is a pseudonym for Michael Crichton. He used this name when he was still attending medical school in the mid 60's to early 70's (1966 -1972) and wrote suspense novels on the side to earn money.

Drug of Choice is the story of a doctor that gets drawn into a series of ever deepening mysteries that have a huge implications and could be his death.

Not only was this story written in 1970, it is also set in that time. Parts of the story are very dated. I don't mean that reads like a story set in the past but written from a current perspective. It is like watching old TV shows or movies that were made back then. The special effects seem bad (think man in rubber suit for monster level of bad). The acting even feels more stilted than in a modern film. Now, of course, this is a book and doesn't have special effects or acting but writing styles have changed and naturally Michael Crichton hadn't had as much experience writing back then. But it still feels old in a not good way.

Characters are not developed well. The bad guys seem a little too powerful. The message of big business is bad was a little too blatant. The casual drug use was disturbing.

One thing I have noticed is that Michael Crichton has something against amusement/theme parks (like Stephen King and corn fields). He started having androids going killer in Westworld (the movie not the TV show), dinosaurs running amok in all of those Jurassic Park stories and the resort in this book was not all it was cracked up to be.
September 16, 2020
От мнооого време си се каня да почна да чета Майкъл Крайтън, ама все отлагах , докато не реших най-накрая да пробвам някоя негова книга - и то по ирония на съдбата заради грешен превод на негово заглавие, което обърках с един филм ( Drug Of Choice преведена като Дрога, а аз обърках с филма Blow ) . А филми по негови книги бол : Джурасик Парк, Сфера, Конго, 13-тия воин и много , много други касови хитове ! Та така , почнах си аз книгата, разбрах ,че съм сгрешил заглавието , но си продължих да си чета и си викам...е може ли пък чак такава баналност, но стилът на писане е такъв ,че направо си визуализираш картината пред очите, все едно филм върху лист и все пак някак простовато и елементарно нахвърляно. След средата на книгата , когато почва да се избистря идеята си казах - УАУ , супер въодушевен и очарован, но елементарното изложение си оставаше същото. Та свършвам си книгата аз и си казвам, браво бе, като за 90-те години е много добре, понеже си пролича ,че някак отдавна е написана...та проверявам аз кога е издадена и ченето ми падна...1970-та г. Само си помислих къде сме били ние в нашата мила родина и нашето мислене тогава и това, за което той пише и е видял напред в бъдещото...Към днешна дата мога да кажа ,че Крайтън е бил уникален писател за времето си ! Оценката е по-ниска заради това,че вече живеем това, което е видял и не е нищо ново, както и за елементарното изложение.
Profile Image for Steven.
Author 7 books27 followers
November 1, 2018
The Hard Case Crime reprint of an early Michael Crichton novel. It's hard to figure this one out -- it's medical science fiction, certainly, a bit of a paranoiac thriller (with few thrills), a bit of a dry run for Crichton's later The Terminal Man, a bit of an anti-science anti-corporation polemic, a satire, and a heavily disguised potshot at the antics of Scientology.

It's also very awkwardly written, the protagonist is a highly passive idiot distracted easily by women, and the villains would be laughed out of a Roger Moore Bond film. On top of that, the grand scheme being run by the masterminds of this fails not because the hero foils their plans (he only achieves this in one aspect, killing the only man who knows how to make the drug of the title) but because the corporation runs out of money.

I appreciate Hard Case reprinting these, but, my goodness, did they really know what they were publishing?
Profile Image for Ashwin Dongre.
192 reviews10 followers
August 16, 2018
Finally so much of Crichtonian storytelling way. I started reading the John Lange novels in the order they were published, and started to get gimps of future Crichton in storytelling. The sectionisation of story, enigmatic message at the beginning of each section, the way story progresses and small cliffhangers.
I liked the story, its fast. I did not exactly liked the ending.

Its good to see Crichton never ended any story like this. Its also good that he learnt what people liked and what worked, and learned fast.

Do read this one.
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