cover image Scratch One

Scratch One

Michael Crichton, writing as John Lange. Hard Case Crime, $9.95 trade paper ISBN 978-1-78329-119-9

In this thriller written under the John Lange pseudonym, Crichton borrows heavily from the Hitchcock comic thriller North by Northwest, though the light tone isn't obvious from the outset. The book opens with a series of violent attacks: in Monaco, a man narrowly escapes being gunned down; in Egypt, another is smothered to death in sand;%C2%A0and a third is shot in the head in Portugal. That's only the first chapter, and Crichton proceeds to poison off a Norwegian businessman in Denmark, and have an exporter fall in front of a Paris train. The violence and intrigue set the stage for American attorney Roger Carr, first seen grabbing a bedmate's breast by accident instead of the ringing phone he was reaching for at his London hotel. Carr comes to France to buy a villa for a wealthy client, but is soon dodging bullets fired by those who have mistaken him for a killer. Crichton's not known for a humorous touch, but he makes good use of it in this outing. (Oct.)