Odds On

Odds On is Michael Crichton's first published novel.[1] It was released in 1966 under the pseudonym of John Lange. It is a short 215-page paperback novel. Hard Case Crime republished the novel under Crichton's name on November 19, 2013.[2]

Odds On
First edition cover
AuthorJohn Lange
CountryUnited States
PublisherSignet Books
Publication date
Media typePrint (Paperback)
LC ClassPS3553.R48
Followed byScratch One 

Plot summary

It describes an attempt of robbery in an isolated hotel on Costa Brava. The robbery is planned with the help of a Critical Path Analysis computer program, but unforeseen events get in the way.

Structure and format

As in many other Crichton novels the chapters are named by date as in a diary, rather than by number or other content. In this particular novel the chapters reflect the total timespan, the ticking clock, of the plot as a whole. The fifteen chapters begins with Saturday, June Fourteenth, and ending with Afternoon, June Twenty-Second. The timespan of the story is just a little more than a week, which is yet another similarity to Crichton’s later novels.[3]

Being his first book, it also contains some of Crichton's 'trademarks' for the first time. Among other things, Crichton started his tradition of beginning his novels with quotes:

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
Benjamin Disraeli


Crichton wrote the book in 1965 while a student at Harvard Medical School. He sent it to Doubleday for consideration under the name "John Lange". A reader at Doubleday loved the book but thought it was "too saucy" for that company, so sent it on to a friend at New American Library.[4]

Crichton used the name John Lange because at this stage he planned to be a doctor and did not want his patients worried he would use them for his plots. The name came from a fairy tale writer called Andrew Lang; Crichton added an "e" and substituted his own real first name, John, for Andrew.[5]

Proposed adaptation

In 1969, around the time film rights were bought for Crichton's The Andromeda Strain, independent producer Sam Roy bought the film rights to Odds On.[6] However, no movie was made.


  1. "Fantasist's Midas touch". The Australian. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  2. "Hard Case Crime to Publish Early Crichton Thrillers".
  3. "Odds On".
  4. The versatile Crichton Seligson, Marcia. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 08 June 1969: k6.
  5. Michael Crichton (rhymes with frighten): Michael Crichton By ISRAEL SHENKER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 08 June 1969: BR5
  6. No Gap Like the Generation Gap By A. H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 06 July 1969: D11.

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