Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, June 8, 2018


Easy Go by "John Lange"  (Michael Crichton) (1968) -- also published as The Last Tomb

Best-selling author Michael Crichton got his start writing paperback thrillers under the pseudonym "John Lange," a pen name that caused some confusion a few years later because John Lange was the real name of the man who, as "John Norman," authored a long series of sexist science fiction novels set on a planet named Gor.

A total of eight novels were published under the Lange pseudonym, all of which have been reissued by Hard Case Crime as by "Michael Crichton writing as 'John Lange.'"  (Crichton used two other pseudonyms during his career:  "Michael Douglas," for a novel co-written with his brother Douglas, and "Jeffrey Hudson," for A Case of Need, an atrocious book that somehow won an Edgar.)

Easy Go is not an atrocious book, despite being the third novel Crichton published.  (And the first written, according to Wikipedia -- supposedly written in one week.)  It's a caper novel and a pretty good one.  The caper in point is the raiding of a previously undiscovered Egyptian tomb.  Crichton's descriptions of Egypt, its history, and its late 1960s political environment add considerable depth to an interesting plot.

Harold Barnaby, an Egyptologist whose expertise in hieroglyphics has led to many corrections of previously translated works, stumbles upon a papyrus revealing a hither-to undiscovered tomb, belonging to an unknown nineteenth-dynasty pharaoh. The pharaoh's vizier had overseen the building of the secret tomb and then killed all the workman who had knowledge of the tomb.  An unopened, unknown tomb means fabulous riches, or so Barnaby hopes.

He approaches Robert Pierce, a freelance journalist who craves excitement.  Piece agrees to join Barnaby and will arrange for a team to find the tomb and raid its bounty.  Lord Grover, an immensely rich and debauched patron, agreed to fund the venture.  Smuggler Alan Conway and daring thief Nikos Karagannis round out the crew.  Joining them will be the beautiful Lisa, Lord Grover's private secretary.

But how to locate the tomb without the Egyptian authorities' knowledge?  And how to get the treasure out of Egypt's tightly controlled borders?  And how do they get an estimated $50,000,000 of historic artifacts converted to cash?  Pierce comes up with a plan that may possibly work, however it is impeded by constant visits and inspections from Hamid Iskander, the regional representative of Egypt's Bureau of Antiquities.

As the plot unfolds, the five conspirators grow closer together.  (This is not a rehash of The Treasure of Sierra Madre, despite a very few early hints.)  All the pieces of the plan begin to fall in line.  there's is a McGuffin that appears in the last quarter of the book which leads the reader to wonder if the tomb raiders will succeed.

A nice, easy romp with likable characters and an ingenious scheme.

From the very beginning of his career, Crichton seemed to be in full control of his nascent writing ability.  

Give this one a try.


  1. I read EASY GO years ago and enjoyed it. I've read Michael Crichton novels over the decades and marveled at his imagination and skill.

  2. Had not known of Easy Go. I just might check it out!