A Case of Need

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Overview

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 malpractice? A violation of the Hippocratic oath? Or cold-blooded murder?

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A Case of Need: A Novel

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Overview

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 malpractice? A violation of the Hippocratic oath? Or cold-blooded murder?

Author Biography:

From the bestselling author of Jurassic Park and Rising Sun, this national bestseller combines breathtaking suspense with a penetrating examination of America's medical establishment. When a woman bleeds to death on the operating table, her physician is accused of murder--and another physician searches for the horrible truth.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"I love anything Michael Crichton writes, but his early medical thrillers have been favorites of mine." -Stephen King
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451039248
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/1/1969
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton
It stands to reason that someone with as many pursuits as Michael Crichton (novelist, nonfiction writer, screenwriter, director, software engineer, M.D.) might achieve only modest success in any of them. But Crichton somehow excelled at them all. His books, suffused with his scientific research and knowledge, never failed to present imaginative, chilling scenarios that jumped from historical capers to futuristic sci-fi. He died on November 4, 2008, after a long battle against cancer.

Biography

Michael Crichton's oeuvre is so vivid and varied that it hard to believe everything sprang from the mind of a single writer. There's the dino-movie franchise and merchandising behemoth Jurassic Park; the long-running, top-rated TV series ER, which Crichton created; and sci-fi tales so cinematic a few were filmed more than once. He's even had a dinosaur named after him.

Ironically, for someone who is credited with selling over 150 million books, Crichton initially avoided writing because he didn't think he would make a living at it. So he turned to medical school instead, graduating with an M.D. from Harvard in 1969. The budding doctor had already written one award-winning novel pseudonymically (1968's A Case of Need) to help pay the bills through school; but when The Andromeda Strain came out in the same year of his med school graduation, Crichton's new career path became obvious.

The Andromeda Strain brilliantly and convincingly sets out an American scientific crisis in the form of a deadly epidemic. Its tone -- both critical of and sympathetic toward the scientific community -- set a precedent for Crichton works to come. A 1970 nonfiction work, Five Patients offers the same tone in a very different form, that being an inside look at a hospital.

Crichton's works were inspired by a remarkably curious mind. His plots often explored scientific issues -- but not always. Some of his most compelling thrillers were set against the backdrop of global trade relations (Rising Sun), corporate treachery (Disclosure) and good old-fashioned Victorian-era theft (The Great Train Robbery). The author never shied away from challenging topics, but it's obvious from his phenomenal sales that he never waxed pedantic. Writing about Prey, Crichton's cautionary tale of nanotech gone awry, The New York Times Book Review put it this way: "You're entertained on one level and you learn something on another."

On the page, Crichton's storytelling was eerily nonfictional in style. His journalistic, almost professorial, and usually third-person narration lent an air of credibility to his often disturbing tales -- in The Andromeda Strain, he went so far as to provide a fake bibliography. Along the way, he revelled in flouting basic, often subconscious assumptions: Dinosaurs are long-gone; women are workplace victims, not predators; computers are, by and large, predictable machines.

The dazzling diversity of Crichton's interests and talents became ever more evident as the years progressed. In addition to penning bestselling novels, he wrote screenplays and a travel memoir, directed several movies, created Academy Award-winning movie production software, and testified before Congress about the science of global warming -- this last as a result of his controversial 2004 eco-thriller State of Fear, a novel that reflected Crichton's own skepticism about the true nature of climate change. His views on the subject were severely criticized by leading environmentalists.

On November 4, 2008, Michael Crichton died, following a long battle against cancer. Beloved by millions of readers, his techno-thrillers and science-inflected cautionary tales remain perennial bestsellers and have spawned a literary genre all its own.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our 2005 interview with Crichton:

"I'm very interested in 20th-century American art."

"I have always been interested in movies and television as well as books. I see all these as media for storytelling, and I don't discriminate among them. At some periods of my life I preferred to work on movies, and at others I preferred books."

"In the early 1990s, interviewers began calling me ‘the father of the techno-thriller.' Nobody ever had before. Finally I began asking the interviewers, ‘Why do you call me that?' They said, ‘Because Tom Clancy says you are the father of the techno-thriller.' So I called Tom up and said, ‘Listen, thank you, but I'm not the father of the techno-thriller.' He said, ‘Yes you are.' I said, ‘No, I'm not, before me there were thrillers like Failsafe and Seven Days in May and The Manchurian Candidate that were techno-thrillers.' He said, ‘No, those are all political. You're the father of the techno-thriller.' And there it ended."

"My favorite recreation is to hike in the wilderness. I am fond of Hawaii."

"I used to scuba dive a lot, but haven't lately. For a time I liked to photograph sharks but like anything else, the thrill wears off. Earlier in my life I took serious risks, but I stopped when I became a parent."

"I taught myself to cook by following Indian and Szechuan recipes. They each have about 20 ingredients. I used to grind my own spices, I was really into it. Now I don't have much time to cook anymore. When I do, I cook Italian food."

"I read almost exclusively nonfiction. Most times I am researching some topic, which may or may not lead to a book. So my reading is pretty focused, although the focus can shift quickly."

"I have always been interested in whatever is missing or excluded from conventional thought. As a result I am drawn to writers who are out of fashion, bypassed, irritating, difficult, or excessive. I also like the disreputable works of famous writers. Thus I end up reading and liking Paul Feyerabend (Against Method), G. K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy, What's Wrong with the World), John Stuart Mill, Hemingway (Garden of Eden), Nietzsche, Machiavelli, Alain Finkielkraut (Defeat of the Mind), Anton Ehrenzweig (Hidden Order of Art), Arthur Koestler (Midwife Toad, Beyond Reductionism), Ian McHarg (Design with Nature), Marguerite Duras, Jung, late James M. Cain (Serenade), Paul Campos.

"Because I get up so early to work, I tend to go to bed early, around 10 or 11. So I don't go out much. I suppose I am borderline reclusive. I don't care."

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Michael Crichton (full name), Jeffery Hudson, John Lange
    2. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 23, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Date of Death:
      November 4, 2008
    2. Place of Death:
      Los Angeles, California

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 50 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2001

    Decent book.... if youre into medicine...

    Well, Chrichton is one of my favorite authors. He usually does a good job integrating his wide knowledge of science into an entertaining story. However, this book was a little boring. It does a good job of explaining things about medicine and things like abortion issues. But this book was kind of boring through most of it. But the last few chapters got very interesting as the big mystery finally unravelled. not a bad book at all, but not the best either.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2001

    A Bit Boring, could have been a winner

    Hard to stay focused throughout the book. I was very disappointed in the way it was written. His later books are superb but this one was just plain lame. I was shocked to see such good reviews on this. To each his own....I think he is a great writer but this seemed to be written too quickly.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    Love this book!

    It's very rare that I find a book that I just can't put down. I usually lose interest in books quickly, but this one is different. I wanted to know what was going to happen next, who was guilty and who was innocent, and how the book was going to end. I just could not put it down and actually finished it in a few days, which does not happen with me EVER. One of the best books I've ever read.

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  • Posted August 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This is the first book I've read by him. In my opinion there wa

    This is the first book I've read by him. In my opinion there was way too much explaining of medical terms, etc . Not too bad though. I will try another by this author and then decide.

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  • Posted July 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Stimulating Story that kept my interest.

    A Case of Need is a stimulating story that kept my interest and I found that it was hard to put down. It educated s on some of the arguments for both sides of the abortion issue while maintaining a very good story line and character set. The plot revolves around who performed an illegal abortion on a girl from an affluent family.
    As you read on you that the abortion killed the girl, so the person who performed the abortion is guilty of murder. For medical thriller fans I would highly recommend this book.

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  • Posted April 20, 2010

    Michael Crichton has done it again

    Michael Chrichton has done it again, a new novel that is sure to be a hit. This book grabs your interest during the first few pages and I could not put it down. It proved to be thoroughly enjoyable and held my interest through out the entire book. If you like James Patterson, Greg Iles, Karin Slaughter, or Preston and Child this book will fit your bill. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to read thrillers and high stakes stories. Although the story line is very intense, it was not hard to follow the path the author put you on. It was intriguing and yet easy to read. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 17, 2010

    A mystery about abortion back when abortions were illegal

    A Case of Need, written by Michael Crichton in a pen name, is a mystery that involves a man trying to prove his best friend innocent of an abortion. It's a mystery, but it's far better as a social piece than a detective novel. The strongest part of this novel is the struggles that the protagonist must go through to prove his friend's innocence. He may be able to prove he is innocent of murder, but he cannot hide the fact that he has committed illegal abortions. The pacing and flow of this is great. I recommend this to anyone interested in the topic of abortion, whether you're pro-life or pro-choice. It's different from later Crichton novels, but it still shows what a great writer he was.

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  • Posted April 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Questionable Medical ethics...

    This novel deals with the highly skeptical decision to be taken by physicians towards conducting abortions. There is not much thrilling story unraveled in it except for the fact that true friendship is highlighted & considered exceptionally well amongst the doctors. I didn't find a much interesting story attached to this title. This is a mild one, could be read just once.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2005

    Ahead of the Times

    I have been a Michael Crichton fan for many years, and finally picked up this, his first book. While most of his books deal with technology and science (usually years ahead of their time), this one deals with a subject that was taboo in its time, abortion. While not a techno-thriller per se, still a winner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2005

    wonderful medical book

    this was a terrific book. althougth he did a few to many medical terms. all in all thougth i give it two thumbs up and would recommend it to any interested in medicine or just looking for something good to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2005

    Very Good Book

    This was the first book that I read by Michael Crichton. At the time, I did not know that he was using a pen name. I would highly recommend this book. It gives a good parallel to the type of story lines in ER.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2004

    great medical mystery

    I thought that this book was a great medical novel.But I also thought that he could have been a little more suspensful and could have used less cusing and more medical terms.But all in all I give it two thumbs up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2004

    A nice little break

    This one was okay, but nothing to get too excited about. As I remember, I guess I didn't like the whole medical feel about it. And how could anyone write about abortion and think it could be a winner?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2003

    It was awsome!

    it was good, though not as good as the first book i read of his SPHERE. it was kind of slow at the beginning but it got much better!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2003

    Good Story

    I bought this book through a book club when it was published years ago. I thought it was a good thriller. A few years ago my son was looking through my books and spotted it, commenting on the fact it was written by Michael Crichton. After that I read it again. I still liked the story! So it seems 'simple' in comparison to later novels. He is the one laughing all the way to the bank.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2003

    I'm 13 and still loved it!

    Some say this book is boring and that it is not his best. Well if you think about it it was his first and in my opinion very good. I enjoyed learning so much about medicine and some of the technical terms. This was a great book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2003

    Great Medical Thriller

    I highly recommend this book to any one who enjoys medical novels or Michael Critchton books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2002

    A well written book

    Crichton is an amazing story teller. He is easily my favorite author. I recommend this incredible medical thriller.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2001

    Beautifully written

    Never read anything medical, but this is the best, science fiction around, Crichton is a jenious

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2000

    superb medical/mystery novel.

    I have a son in college, who took time out from a very busy academic schedule to read this book. He also thought it was fantastic! Pretty good considering he's a medical student. We're both looking for another crichton book similar to this. Any suggestions?

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