Binary by Michael Crichton

(7.0/10) A psychological thriller, fast-paced, but with a slow reveal, an easy book to get caught up in.

Michael Cricthon's Binary is a Hard Case Crime novel, originally written under the pen name of John Lange. Set in San Diego, I found this book fairly interesting as, unlike the other books of his that I have read in this series, this isn’t set somewhere exotic and isn’t filled with beautiful but deadly women. This book focuses on a Federal Agent, John Graves, who is an intelligence expert whose current job to find out what John Wright, the leader of an underground political group, is up to.

There is a competitive structure to the book with both Graves and Wright balancing each other out like pieces on a chess board that just happens to represent the city of San Diego in the 1970's, where fictionally the Republican Party is holding their party conference. In actuality they had moved their convention to Miami before 1972.

The structure of the book was interesting, opening and closing with a defence scenario, of how to transport dangerous material throughout the US. The main structure is a 12 hour countdown to Hour 0, with each chapter showing what happens within that hour, and whether Graves is closer to catching his man or whether they are chasing each other like a cat and mouse. We slowly build a picture of the overall struggle that the security force has to deal with to make sure that a binary bomb doesn’t go off. Binary in this case meaning two chemicals that alone are harmless, but mixed together will kill painfully within minutes.

Binary is a psychological thriller, fast-paced, but with a slow reveal, an easy book to get caught up in. Whilst the main characters play mind games with each other, we get to find out why John Wright has gone to the lengths he has to achieve political change and how far Graves will go to make sure that this doesn’t happen.

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