Saturday, March 22, 2008


By John Lange
Hard Case Crime
221 pages

In reading through this excellent thriller, I couldn’t help but bemoan the fact that filmmaker, Alfred Hitchcock, is no longer with us. This would have been a terrific book for him to translate to film. ZERO COOL has all the elements of a classic Hitchcock experience. The protagonist is an educated, professional who inadvertently is sucked into a criminal enterprise and against his will, soon finds himself the target of several groups all intent upon bringing about his demise.

Radiologist, Peter Ross, is on a much needed vacation in southern Spain when he’s approached by a mysterious group of men to perform an autopsy on a body that has to be shipped to the United States for burial. Ross does his best to put them off, but when they threaten him, he relinquishes and performs the illegal procedure. Illegal because he is told to put a wrapped package into the cadaver’s chest before sewing it shut. Now he knows these criminals are attempting to smuggle an unknown object into the states.

Again, classic Hitchcock, in that whatever the mystery object is exactly is completely unimportant to the story as its very existence as a plot device to endanger our protagonist is only real purpose of being there. Soon poor Dr. Ross finds himself, beaten, shanghaied to Paris where meets another group of unsavory characters and then once again returned to Spain for shady adventures. All the while accompanied by a beautiful woman who, because of their flirtatious tryst, finds herself entangled in his dilemma.

ZERO COOL is a really fun thriller that has its share of surprises and twists, all done with a deft hand that never allows the pacing to lag. By the book’s finale, in a rather well known Spanish landmark, another nod to Mr. Hitchcock, I had been thoroughly entertained from start to finish. What more can you want from any book?


Glen said...

It's been a while since you reviewed a Hard Case Crime book.

Lange is a nom de plume of Michael Crichton. I've really enjoyed both the Lange books Hard Case Crime published, and really hope they publish more of them,

Ron Fortier said...

Hi Glen. I've reviewed every single HCC ever published within two weeks of receiving them in the mail. They've slowed down their releases of late and as of now I am all caught up. I was aware that Crichton was
the author here, as well as the previous GRAVE DESCENT. which, if you were eagle-eye, you will recognize
as the paperback the young lady on this new book cover is reading. Same artist having an inside joke.