Drug of Choice by Michael Crichton

(7.5/10) A good pace throughout, had believable characters and a frisson of creepiness.

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…

Drug of Choice, another of the recently reissued Hard Case Crime series of books written by Michael Crichton under the pen name John Lange, kicks off with a Hells Angel being hospitalised unconscious, but with nothing apparently wrong with him. The fact he has blue urine confuses Dr Roger Clark and the medical team even further, but then the Angel wakes up none the worse for wear and cannot remember a thing. Days later a young actress is brought in with the same symptoms. Once again, she wakes up with no memory of having taken an unusual drug, but these two cases have sparked Dr Clark’s interest and he decides to investigate this further. Unfortunately, it seems as though he is a pawn in a far greater game than he could have anticipated.

Having read Scratch One recently, I have to say I had low expectations for Drug of Choice. However, this was actually a fun, interesting mystery with dystopic overtones rather than the sexist Bond-style twaddle of the previous book. As Dr Clark digs deeper into the puzzling case of seemingly healthy people falling unconscious and urinating blue, a vast conspiracy involving a Soma-style drug and the controlling of people’s perception of reality is uncovered. Or is that what he was supposed to find all along?

I enjoyed this a lot; it kept up a good pace throughout, had believable characters and a frisson of creepiness. If you enjoy a pulp crime thriller, give this a go.

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