Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index




to e-mail us:

support the site

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK

In association with Amazon.ca - Canada



In association with Amazon.it - Italia

the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Drug of Choice

Michael Crichton
(writing as John Lange)

general information | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Drug of Choice

Title: Drug of Choice
Author: Michael Crichton
Genre: Novel
Written: 1970
Length: 208 pages
Availability: Drug of Choice - US
Drug of Choice - UK
Drug of Choice - Canada
Drug of Choice - India
Die Teufelsdroge - Deutschland
Sua eccellenza la droga - Italia
  • Originally published under the pseudonym 'John Lange'
  • Also published as Overkill

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

B : Very basic, ultra-lite pulp fiction, but does the job

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Drug of Choice is another of the early Michael Crichton novels, written while he was finishing medical school and published under the pseudonym 'John Lange'. It is even a medical thriller, of sorts, and begins with a medical mystery: a Hells Angel is admitted to Los Angeles Memorial hospital, apparently comatose but otherwise without signs of injury or trauma. What's odd about his case is that his urine is blue -- and that within a day he wakes up, apparently perfectly healthy, as if he had just been deep asleep. Resident Robert Clark is mystified -- and then even more confounded when a rising young actress, Sharon Wilder, is admitted, presenting the same symptoms.
       When Wilder wakes up she's completely fine again -- and she flirts with Clark, who finds he can't get her out of his mind. In short order he finds himself spending the night with her -- and though the next morning he feels great, his memories of what might have happened are vague .....
       Clark continues looking into what might be behind the mysterious deep-sleeping, blue-peeing patients. He assumes there's some drug behind it, and the trail leads him to a brand-new -- just two years old -- but apparently very successful start-up, Advance, Inc. They seem to have been expecting him -- just like Wilder had expected him to follow-up on her flirting -- and when he visits the company Clark finds himself in what seems like a job interview, as they also know a lot about him and his background -- which includes some drug-testing research, which is the kind of expertise they could really use .....
       Clark has been planning a vacation. He's all booked for Mexico, but suddenly everything is pointing him to the mysterious Caribbean island destination of San Cristobal, the hot new experience that everyone is raving about. Wilder is heading there, and even his travel agent wants to convince him to change his plans. When he misses his Mexican plans the opportunity to go to this 'Eden Island' -- in the movie star's company -- is too good to pass up.
       San Cristobal turns out not to be quite what it seems -- though it sure seems great, the visitors having the times of their lives. But Clark's medical expertise is something those running the resort could really use, and so they reveal the shocking behind-the-scenes reality of the place to him and force him to do their bidding.
       Wilder had told him about Advance Inc. -- but also said:

They're into all sorts of stuff -- electronic control of the brain, and new birth control chemicals -- but not resorts, love.
       Except, of course, that they are -- and that their drug-experimentation has a lot to do with what's going on on the island.
       Clark finds himself hopelessly trapped, the carrot and stick they introduce him to convincing him to play along. He gets back to the mainland, but finds Advance's clutches are hard to escape from -- at every turn they seem to be ahead of him, and they have some powerful tools at their disposal.
       It's a very quick roller-coaster of an adventure, playing with Clark's (and others') minds, with and without the help of some very powerful new drugs.
       Early on, Clark has spoken to Wilder's psychiatrist, who had explained the reason she had come to him for treatment:
She was bothered by thoughts of some kind of giant, scientific corporation which was controlling her life and career. She dreamed about it.
       He cured her -- and explained that it was hardly an unusual delusion among young actresses: after all: "The studios manipulate them, humiliate them, exploit them, use them". But, in this case, there really was more to Wilder's fears, Advance's role a much more prominent one in her -- and then Clark's -- lives than anyone realizes.
       Crichton rushes through his story, with much of it barely sketched out -- in later years he would have padded something like this to three times its length, easily, and had much more fun with the details -- but he keeps the tension nicely high and while the premise (and a lot of the action) may be quite absurd, it touches upon enough basic human fears, of personal and corporate control and drug-induced alternate realities, to be pretty effective.
       This is about as lite as pulp fiction gets, but Crichton still displays a pretty sure hand and, ridiculous though much of this is, it's never really bad in the way much of the forgettable fiction in this genre is.
       Sure, Drug of Choice is entirely disposable pass-time reading -- but it's fine and fun enough as a completely undemanding thriller.

- M.A.Orthofer, 14 January 2014

- Return to top of the page -


Drug of Choice: Reviews: Michael Crichton: Other books by Michael Crichton under review: Other books of interest under review:

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       American author Michael Crichton (1942-2008) wrote many bestselling novels, several of which have been made into successful films.

- Return to top of the page -

© 2014 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links