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Title: A Case of Need I. Introduction Author: Jeffrey Hudson (Michael Crichton) Title: A Case of Need Publisher: Signet (Penguin) Year of Publication: 1968 Type of Book: Medical Drama How I came to choose it: Strolling through Club Price II. Summary of Plot A Case of Need is told in the first person, a rarity for Crichton, who usually uses the third person omniscient. The main character, the renowned pathologist John Berry, has a friend, Arthur Lee, who performs illegal hospital abortions for those in need. Arthur Lee has been framed for murder of a beautiful young girl, Karen Randall, who, according to the Randall family, came to him for an abortion. The abortion supposedly went badly and the girl had bled to death. When Berry sees the scrapings from Randall's uterus, does an autopsy, and examines her medical history, he becomes dedicated to finding the real killer. Berry becomes a private-eye-for-a-week, touring the streets of Boston, consulting with Karen Randall's friends, and meeting strange people. Constantly in his way stands the Randall family, a very old, respected family in the medical world of Boston. They are a large group of men and women, most of whom are working at one of Boston's many fine hospitals. Wherever Berry steps, they are always blocking his path to proving that Karen Randall is a loose girl who sought an illegal abortion. III. The Setting of the Book in Time and Place A Case of Need is set in 1968, the time when it was written. America was undergoing vast social change. The social revolution was in full swing. LSD and hippieism were popular. This was a tumultuous year for the United States. John Berry meets many strange types in his quest for substantial information to protect his friend. One of my favourite examples, was Superhead, the psychedelic musician. When John knocks on his door, a short, bearded man takes him to the inner chamber, which is the soul place created by Superhead, the small, blond-headed man sitting in the center of the room. He is in the middle of a really long trip. He fiddles with consoles and makes strange humming and banging noises with his instruments. The walls are painted and tapestries are hung so as to make the place feel like a womb. This is just one of the many demented characters that inhabit Boston. Against the wildness that existed in the general public, there existed a strong contrast. Boston, one the main medical centres of North America, comprised largely Catholics. There were many large, old, families descended directly from the Catholics aboard the Mayflower, of which the Randalls were one. Furthermore, Arthur Lee's job as obstetrician and illegal abortionist was particularly risky in a city such as Boston, because of the large Catholic population. John Berry knew that at Arthur Lee's trial, all twelve Jury members would be conservative Catholics. An accused abortionist had no chance of survival in Boston. IV. Evaluation A significant bit of irony in this book is the fact that Arthur Lee is both an abortionist and an obstetrician, a doctor concerned with childbirth. A Case of Need discusses at length the ethics, procedures, circumstances, and risks of abortion and when it is right and wrong to perform it. Crichton keeps a very open mind about this touchy subject, and, having been a medical doctor at the time of the first publication, confronted the reader with a barrage of solid statistics, straight out of the then-current records. This was, like all of his other books, very well-researched. Of Michael Crichton's books, this is my fourth favorite, behind "Great Train Robbery," "The Andromeda Strain," and "Rising Sun." I recommend it to anybody who doesn't mind spending that little extra bit of time to research the meanings of the complicated medical terms that Crichton has included. Despite the fact that it is littered with technicalities that an intelligent reader can hopefully wade through, this book has a very fast pace and provides and entertaining read. Thank you.