This isn’t the first time a spy story has intersected with a mistaken identity tale, but at least in Scratch One writer Michael Crichton added a good deal of suspense and humor. Writing as John Lange, this novel (first published in 1967 and now in reprint through Hard Case Crime) follows a spoiled senators son turned lawyer into the south of France where his pudgy face gets him confused for a US operative and nearly killed. Here’s a proper synopsis:
To prevent an arms shipment from reaching the Middle East a terrorist group has been carrying out targeted assassinations in Egypt, Portugal, Denmark, and France. In response, the US sends one of its deadliest agents to take the killers down. But when the agent is delayed in transit, lawyer Roger Carr gets mistaken for him. Now, with some of the world’s deadliest men after him, will he survive long enough to prove his identity?
In the past reviews of Crichton’s Lange novels it was very easy to point to Crichton’s ability to create thrilling suspense tales full of sexy dames and murderous thugs, but what carries Scratch One is it’s humor. Not exactly what some might call “gut busting” humor, but the right mix of fun and danger to make an excellent pulp novel. Roger Carr is a spoiled ass, and that doesn’t change much through out the novel; however his arrogance, and often cowardice, makes him an excellent dope for this tale. This isn’t a life changing tale, and maybe a little bit on the goofy side, but overall Scratch One is a novel for people who love hard boiled – pulp tales!
Scratch One is now available in all major book stores or you can get it online at Titan Books’s online store!