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Hardcover A Case of Need Book

ISBN: 0525938028

ISBN13: 9780525938026

A Case of Need

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Book 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?

Customer Reviews

6 ratings


I had the book on an audible and was really tired of following along with it. The hard copy is far better and this book is so amazing. If you are into the whole medical thing. It is a great book to read. Side note, if you don't like cursing you may not like this book.

Interesting, informative and a look into its age

This book was written in the late 1960s (copyright is 1968) when the author had just finished his own medical internship. As such, it is not at all surprising that it is somewhat medically dense, nor is it surprising that there are footnotes and appendices (which were commonly used during that time and to which people were accustomed, unlike now when, if we don't know, we either don't want to know or we want it covered in the text). I also found it a fascinating look at the 1960s - the language itself threw me for the first couple chapters until I went back and looked at the copyright page and then I said "oooohhh, 1960s - that's OK then." People need to not get so upset about things that have changed - what was acceptable 40+ years ago isn't now - OK, we get that. MOVE ON already and don't trash a book because of it! The fact that the main character of the pathologist RECEIVED PERMISSION FROM HIS BOSS to take off the time necessary to try to clear his colleague has apparently been lost on some readers, who nonetheless become upset over other minor details they feel the writer or editor missed. Nitpicking apart a book is not the way to enjoy it! At any rate, I digress. I had this book sitting around for quite some time before I pulled it out and read it. Like others have mentioned, I need to be in the right mood for Crichton. This book was very well done, especially if - as one reviewer says - it was his first book. I think I was well past the half-way point before I had an inkling of who may have been involved, but I figured out only half of the team, so to speak! Like Dr. Berry himself, I became overly wrapped up in all the details and missed the larger picture. But, I suppose, that is the point. I think the book was wonderfully done and I enjoyed the appendices a great deal. I have a bit of knowledge of medical terminology, so I didn't need all of the footnotes, but I found some of them necessary (and there were places where others would have been helpful!). Nonetheless, this was a well-done book that examined a very sensitive topic (then AND now) from a, I believe, very well-balanced point of view.

It was the _______ who did it!

I thought this was a good book, which was dated, yet dealt with an important topic yesterday as it is today; abortion. It was well written and easy to read. Actually had trouble putting it down. If you are strictly anti-abortion you may not like this book, if you're able to put that aside you may like it. I did slam nurses though and I didn't like that aspect of the book. Given the times when it was written, nurses were really looked down upon. Unfortunately many of those stereotypical misconceptions from the point of view of the doctor still carry over today 37 years later. Also brought up the unwritten law of medicine, never to turn against your brother MD no matter how incompetent and dangerous they practice. Another code still largely unbroken today.

Entertaining and Consciousness-Raising

Crichton focuses his microscope on the medical profession in this story of a butchered abortion performed on the daughter of a prominent Boston physician. John Berry is a Boston pathologist who has been helping to cover up the illegal abortions performed by a Dr. Arthur Lee. When Lee is arrested for murder, Berry has to unravel the case before the consequences of his own actions catch up with him. There's a lot of the technical medical terminology that Crichton has made popular on the hit TV show "ER", and a lot more of the serious analysis of the moral dilemmas that face medical practitioners in the real world, particularly as they relate to abortion. Like "ER" this is not science fiction, but a very compelling story (actually a murder mystery) informed by substantial scientific knowledge. (Crichton was a medical student at the time this novel was written). As such, there is no speculation here, just the facts as Crichton sees them, in the context of a juicy potboiler that includes licentiousness and loose living among the rich and privileged. The end result is a thoroughly compelling can't-put-it-down page-turner that seems certain to please a mass audience.The down side is that apart from the (admittedly even-handed) discussions on abortion, there really isn't any substance to this novel. The characters are pretty generic, and only the hero really manages to make any claim on our sympathy. Mystery lovers are sure to enjoy this book, as are fans of "ER", but science fiction fans should not be expecting to find any far-out ideas here. Very entertaining, but not mind-boggling, this book will raise your consciousness about the abortion issue. Just don't expect a whole lot more from it.

Crichton's first "official" novel is a page-turner!

I found MC's new introduction to his earliest breakthrough novel, A CASE OF NEED, quite interesting. He talks about the controversy the book stirred when it came out, and how his pseudonym -- Jeffery Hudson -- was used so that nobody in the medical world would know who wrote it. He never planned to be a writer -- he was in Harvard Medical School at the time and needed cash (so he turned out paperback spy stories about the cold war) -- but when he won an award for the novel, he had to accept it in person and his so-called secret was out.If you enjoyed JURASSIC PARK, SPHERE, RISING SUN, or any of MC's other truly fabulous novels (I've read 'em all along with thousands of other classical and modern works of literature), you'll love this oldie from the late 60s. It's like reading a film noir -- told in first person perspective, it's about a doctor investigating the murder case of a fellow employee of a local hospital who has been arrested for aborting a young girl's unborn child and, in turn, unintentionally killing the girl later, after she suffered blood loss from the operation.But did he really do it? That's the question that our protaganist tries to solve -- and the outcome of it all is so simple, and yet also so stunning. As the final page turns, you'll wonder how you never solved it beforehand.It has its flaws. Michael Crichton's early work shows signs of minor problems he would solve later -- whether it be plot mistakes or simply story flow. Plus, I doubt whether a doctor would turn himself into Sherlock Holmes quite so well as he makes the character in this book.That all doesn't matter, because you'll absolutely love this novel, especially if you're a fan. If you're new to Crichton, I suggest JURASSIC PARK, the first novel of his I read (and which totally took me by surprise). But if you're a fan, or you want a good medical thriller from the creator of ER, check this out. It's one of Crichton's better quick-reads.

Excellent story, excellent plot.

There should be more gripping novels of this type put out every year. This book relies on character interaction and a well thought out plot versus gimmicky techno garbage and other mind numbing junk. Excellent character development and a good helping of suspense are this books strong points.
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