website statistics The Venom Business - PDF Books Online
Hot Best Seller

The Venom Business

Availability: Ready to download

As an expert handler of venomous snakes - and a smuggler of rare artifacts - Charles Raynaud is accustomed to danger. So the job bodyguarding an old acquaintance about to come into a fortune shouldn't make him break a sweat. But when the attempts on the man's life nearly get Raynaud killed, he's left wondering: is he the killers' real target...?  As an expert handler of venomous snakes - and a smuggler of rare artifacts - Charles Raynaud is accustomed to danger. So the job bodyguarding an old acquaintance about to come into a fortune shouldn't make him break a sweat. But when the attempts on the man's life nearly get Raynaud killed, he's left wondering: is he the killers' real target...? 


Compare

As an expert handler of venomous snakes - and a smuggler of rare artifacts - Charles Raynaud is accustomed to danger. So the job bodyguarding an old acquaintance about to come into a fortune shouldn't make him break a sweat. But when the attempts on the man's life nearly get Raynaud killed, he's left wondering: is he the killers' real target...?  As an expert handler of venomous snakes - and a smuggler of rare artifacts - Charles Raynaud is accustomed to danger. So the job bodyguarding an old acquaintance about to come into a fortune shouldn't make him break a sweat. But when the attempts on the man's life nearly get Raynaud killed, he's left wondering: is he the killers' real target...? 

30 review for The Venom Business

  1. 4 out of 5

    Arah-Lynda

    John Lange puts the pulp in paper! Charles Raynaud, expert handler of venomous snakes and smuggler of rare artifacts, is in Mexico when he first meets Jane Mitchell. He lives on the bare edge of danger. He is on his way to Paris to make a delivery, the goods cleverly concealed beneath his venomous travelling companions. Hard liquor, fast cars, beautiful, lusty women, smoke filled rooms, strangers who emerge from the shadows of danger. All of it wrapped in slow, smoky, sultry prose. And my word…..th John Lange puts the pulp in paper! Charles Raynaud, expert handler of venomous snakes and smuggler of rare artifacts, is in Mexico when he first meets Jane Mitchell. He lives on the bare edge of danger. He is on his way to Paris to make a delivery, the goods cleverly concealed beneath his venomous travelling companions. Hard liquor, fast cars, beautiful, lusty women, smoke filled rooms, strangers who emerge from the shadows of danger. All of it wrapped in slow, smoky, sultry prose. And my word…..the cover, I was positively pea green in my urgency to have it, the very moment my eyes fell upon it. Am I going back to the well? Hells yeah! More pleease……….

  2. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    This book was tracking as a 5 star read for me around the halfway mark but a change in direction soiled the story to a degree. Charles Raynaud reads as a James Bond type character; introduced as a professional snake handler, he knows his way around a forest almost as good as a knows his way around women. He's a protagonist full of mystery and intrigue. Equally adapt at smuggling priceless artifacts as he is undertaking murder for hire, his thirst for money lands him in the middle of a scandal th This book was tracking as a 5 star read for me around the halfway mark but a change in direction soiled the story to a degree. Charles Raynaud reads as a James Bond type character; introduced as a professional snake handler, he knows his way around a forest almost as good as a knows his way around women. He's a protagonist full of mystery and intrigue. Equally adapt at smuggling priceless artifacts as he is undertaking murder for hire, his thirst for money lands him in the middle of a scandal that is a little hard to decipher. THE VENOM BUSINESS lacks clarity to how Raynaud gets mixed up in a family drama centered around a big inheritance and relatives with murderous intent. Add to the mix a couple of attractive and willing women and what was a decent read turns murky. I'm not sure if author Michael Crichton during his pulp phase published any more books featuring Raynaud but THE VENOM BUSINESS protagonist has a lot of potential and was the most enjoyable aspect to the book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Roger

    If you've been reading my reviews long enough you know one of my secondary reading goals: read all the fiction Michael Crichton wrote. Finishing The Venom Business puts me one step closer. This novel is one of eight Crichton composed under the pseudonym of John Lange. I think this novel may have been an experiment for Crichton. It is much longer than the six other Lange books I've read, it deals with sex a lot more frankly than anything else Crichton wrote, and the plot is labyrinthine-there eno If you've been reading my reviews long enough you know one of my secondary reading goals: read all the fiction Michael Crichton wrote. Finishing The Venom Business puts me one step closer. This novel is one of eight Crichton composed under the pseudonym of John Lange. I think this novel may have been an experiment for Crichton. It is much longer than the six other Lange books I've read, it deals with sex a lot more frankly than anything else Crichton wrote, and the plot is labyrinthine-there enough double triple and quadruple crosses to fill an airplane hangar. I really enjoyed it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    itchy

    i thought it's gonna be snakes all the way a bit complicated, though p154: from the worn edges, he determined that it bed seen lots of use. i thought it's gonna be snakes all the way a bit complicated, though p154: from the worn edges, he determined that it bed seen lots of use.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lexxi Kitty

    Strange story, quite interesting, but strange. At least until about the 80% mark. Then it went batty, insane. A very stupid turn to the book. A strange dream. Then an even stranger awake moment. Fast car, fight in car. Really bloody stupid it all was. I realize that the sixties were a weird drug fueled time (for some), but . . . Lange (aka Crichton) must have been indulging mightily. At least from about 80% to 88%. Wacky. Of course then it turned 'good' again at 89%. Bah. (then it got weird again, Strange story, quite interesting, but strange. At least until about the 80% mark. Then it went batty, insane. A very stupid turn to the book. A strange dream. Then an even stranger awake moment. Fast car, fight in car. Really bloody stupid it all was. I realize that the sixties were a weird drug fueled time (for some), but . . . Lange (aka Crichton) must have been indulging mightily. At least from about 80% to 88%. Wacky. Of course then it turned 'good' again at 89%. Bah. (then it got weird again, but I stop now suddenly reporting to myself while reading) Hmms. Well, it's all over now. The book, I mean. Wacky book. It had such potential. If it hadn't taken a weird turn and then ended badly, I probably could have rated it quite highly. Annoying, that. Since this is the last book by Lange I hadn't yet read. Well, there's another, but I DNF'd that one. As in, I tried it, got bored, and stopped reading it. Guess I'll have to retry it. I think there's one book under the Crichton name I never got around to reading, I think it was called Disclosure, or something like that. Then there's the Jeffrey Hudson book A Case of Need. I have a vague idea I haven't read that one yet. And probably never will. And I know I've never read the Michael Douglas one (a book Crichton wrote with his brother and released under the name Michael Douglas). So. Four fiction books by Crichton I haven't read yet, and probably never will. And, I believe, at least one work of nonfiction that I probably won't read. So I'm likely done. I had thought, while I was reading this book, that it is unfortunate that John Lange didn't continue writing books. I was going to include that line. And then say something like "yes I know that's Crichton . . .". I was going to say all that because, at the time, this book here was quite good. And there had been others that either showed potential or were, in fact, quite good. Then this one messed everything up by getting all wacky there at the end. Unfortunate, that. I think I might have liked Lange better than Crichton, the books. A couple of Lange books I rather liked, and then two of Crichtons I rather liked. Maybe it's tied. I'm too tired to look. I know the two of Crichtons, though. That pirate one that got released after his death, and The Great Train Robbery.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Hayes

    I purchased this novel looking for a pulp thriller, much in the vein of the original Hard Case Crime books, having been a subscriber to this series while they were still offered through the mail. I found this oversized edition in a book store, and seeing it to be the longest of the Lang books, I purchased this. The novel starts simply with a random encounter in Mexico and quickly changes into a mystery/thriller for Charles Raynaud once he goes to England. He meets with a former acquaintance and I purchased this novel looking for a pulp thriller, much in the vein of the original Hard Case Crime books, having been a subscriber to this series while they were still offered through the mail. I found this oversized edition in a book store, and seeing it to be the longest of the Lang books, I purchased this. The novel starts simply with a random encounter in Mexico and quickly changes into a mystery/thriller for Charles Raynaud once he goes to England. He meets with a former acquaintance and this person's playboy lifestyle drags the protagonist into a scheme involving money, murder, and sex. This went on for far too long. There's a lot of pages devoted to characters telling other characters information that the reader is already aware of. There's also an over-the-top subplot involving a doctor and an experimental drug that had me jointly groaning at it's impossibility and how it figures into the antagonists' plot. I was happy when this book was over and has me questioning if I should read other books by Lang. Thankfully, Michael Crichton improved considerably as a writer after this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Camille

    Another great book by Michael Crichton. It dealt with a man who extracted snake venom, a playboy from London, a devious uncle who was a doctor that dealt with research using snake venom and a calculating stepmother who was about to lose money when her playboy step-son came into his inheritance. Mix in greed, drugs and murder and you have quite a story. Excellent read that I recommend to everyone!!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kyriakos Sorokkou

    «I began writing as a medical student, and felt that I would continue as a doctor and ought to protect my patients from the fear that they might pop up in the pages of a thriller. The best protection would not be to disguise them, but to disguise me. Once I decided not to practice medicine, I dropped the pseudonyms expect for convenience. I wrote too much, so I decided to publish some books under false names, and in that way, could publish more books.» And that's how Michael Crichton began his wr «I began writing as a medical student, and felt that I would continue as a doctor and ought to protect my patients from the fear that they might pop up in the pages of a thriller. The best protection would not be to disguise them, but to disguise me. Once I decided not to practice medicine, I dropped the pseudonyms expect for convenience. I wrote too much, so I decided to publish some books under false names, and in that way, could publish more books.» And that's how Michael Crichton began his writing career. One of my favourite and most read authors. The creator of Jurassic Park, Westworld and ER, among many others. From the summer of 2011 until November 2018, I read 19 of the 32 books he published. November 2018 was the 10th anniversary of his death. That's when I decided to do a project dedicated to Crichton. One book per month for the next 32 months. The thrillers he wrote as a medical student between 1966 and 1972 under the pseudonym John Lange were eight, and with the exception of the last one he wrote in 1972 (the year he decided to publish under his own name something that lasted until his death,) were a large part of his bibliography that I had not read. So I ordered them all in one go. Every time I need to review one of these I'll repeat this general introduction about his early writings rather than extensive reviews on each individual book. Because beyond the interest of reading early works of your favourite author, reading what he wrote and seeing his writing slowly evolving, they are not masterpieces and you cannot dedicate more than five lines for their sake. It's like Schwarzenegger movies. You are having a good time and that's it. And I also didn't want to confuse you every second day with a new book by Crichton. They were written quickly and, as he said, he wrote them to gain money to pay for utilities and groceries while he was a student. They are not masterpieces as I mentioned above, but their writing was something like writing exercises, a writing with which in the medical thriller A Case of Need (that he wrote in 1968 under another pseudonym (Jeffery Hudson)) gained the Edgar Award in 1969. A year in which he published for the first time under his own name one of his best novels, the science fiction thriller The Andromeda Strain, which was made into a film in 1971. In 1970 he and his brother Douglas Crichton co-wrote another hippie thriller under a common pseudonym Michael Douglas (Dealing, or The Berkeley-To-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues). This would be his third and final nickname. In 1972, with The Terminal Man under his own name, he realised that his career was now a writer, not a doctor, so he put the pseudonym in the bottom drawer. The eight books he wrote as John Lange remained out of stock since the late 1970s until the publishing house Hard Case Crime began publishing out of stock and hard-to-find books in the noir, thriller, detective, and generally pulp fiction categories. Among them are books published for the first time such as Joyland and The Colorado Kid by Stephen King. While Crichton was still alive, two of his books, Grave Descend and Zero Cool, were edited by him. In November 2008, unfortunately, Crichton passed away, so in 2013 the remaining 6 books were released. Because I don't want to tire you out anymore and give you acute Crichtoniasis, I'll talk briefly about this one. The Venom Business 1969: read it in June 2019 Crichton's longest book as John Lange, the only one with more than 300 pages. A snake tamer is hired by an old acquaintance as a bodyguard, but it seems that the target is himself and not his acquaintance. More in Greek at βιβλιοαλχημείες

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wendell

    This novel, published in 1969 when Crichton was not yet 30, bears all the earmarks of an amateur, unpolished writer. The story is dull and over long, and there are pages and pages of what can only be called repartée, almost none of which actually advances the plot. The women characters are so identical, you’ll have difficulty telling them apart, And the men are Dashiell Hammett-esque rogues right out of central casting. There’s sexism and misogyny and homophobia in abundance. Crichton never had This novel, published in 1969 when Crichton was not yet 30, bears all the earmarks of an amateur, unpolished writer. The story is dull and over long, and there are pages and pages of what can only be called repartée, almost none of which actually advances the plot. The women characters are so identical, you’ll have difficulty telling them apart, And the men are Dashiell Hammett-esque rogues right out of central casting. There’s sexism and misogyny and homophobia in abundance. Crichton never had a particularly keen ear for dialogue, but at this early stage he was shockingly wooden and at times unreadable. Unless you’re some sort of Crichton scholar, forced to read his entire oeuvre, give this one a miss.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ashwin Dongre

    I dont know what so many people are complaining about the last 20% of the story, they all said it was kind of change in direction. But I felt it the exact direction the story was going throughout. I liked the story, you finally start to see the Crichton that you know so very well from his later novels. Do read it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Craig Childs

    Charles Raynaud is a snake handler and smuggler operating out of Mexico. He is hired as a bodyguard to protect an old college schoolmate, but soon he finds himself enmeshed in the intricate schemes of a family worth a half billion British pounds. Everybody has a plan to broaden their piece of the pie: -Richard is about to turn thirty-four and stands to inherit his father's entire empire. He must stay alive, out of prison, and demonstrate to the stodgy board that manages his trust that he can suc Charles Raynaud is a snake handler and smuggler operating out of Mexico. He is hired as a bodyguard to protect an old college schoolmate, but soon he finds himself enmeshed in the intricate schemes of a family worth a half billion British pounds. Everybody has a plan to broaden their piece of the pie: -Richard is about to turn thirty-four and stands to inherit his father's entire empire. He must stay alive, out of prison, and demonstrate to the stodgy board that manages his trust that he can succeed in business. He is busy trying to accomplish that last goal by bribing his way into a lucrative government contract to build the Chunnel. -Lucienne is Richard's stepmom. She is working with her husband's brother--who also just happens to be a former lover-- to get Richard sent to prison to prevent him taking over the estate. -Uncle John is Richard's only friend and Lucienne's closest confidant, but he is also a scientist with a love of rare poisons. He has his own secret plans to seize control of the money. -Lisa Mitchell is not a family member, but this lovely millionaire has been drawn into the web. Is she an accomplice or just another victim? I really liked these characters, and I enjoyed the basic premise of the plot. The decadent, entitled, rich usually make a compelling noir story. However, this book suffered from numerous problems. The Chicago Tribune summed it best in their review: "too many subplots, too many dames." This was a 250-page story padded to 400 pages for no discernible reason. A book like this should be fast-paced with every character's motivation established early. Crichton attempted to make everyone mysterious and so kept much of the plot secret far too long. The endless filler scenes of parties, sex, fights, and drinking quickly became repetitive. I think by the end, the author himself had probably grown bored with the whole thing. When all the secrets are eventually revealed, they really make no sense. Lucienne has involved Charles and Lisa in order to create a social scandal that will result in Richard going to jail for murder…. Except she doesn't really need a scandal, because she also pushed Richard's company to the brink of bankruptcy in order to provoke him to murder to save his fortune… Except she doesn't really need to harm the business, because she has also arranged to poison Richard with a snake venom that will drive him to a murderous rage with only a slight provocation. All these machinations, of course, work against each other in the end in what is possibly the most anticlimactic resolution imaginable. This is the worst of Crichton's books under the John Lange pen name. Check out Binary, Zero Cool, or Odds On instead. Leave this one on the shelf.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jason Edwards

    Most of Michael Crichton’s early “John Lange” novels (at least the ones I’ve read) follow the same pattern: an innocent—but able—man gets caught between dueling criminal factions. He’s pushed back and forth, a pawn in their game, until he decides to man-up and use their own complicated schemes to thwart them. Along the way he meets a stunning—but able—lady, with whom he eventually has sex, although that’s only after he’s bedded a several other easily discarded women. Venom Business is no differen Most of Michael Crichton’s early “John Lange” novels (at least the ones I’ve read) follow the same pattern: an innocent—but able—man gets caught between dueling criminal factions. He’s pushed back and forth, a pawn in their game, until he decides to man-up and use their own complicated schemes to thwart them. Along the way he meets a stunning—but able—lady, with whom he eventually has sex, although that’s only after he’s bedded a several other easily discarded women. Venom Business is no different, in this regard. If you’ve read anything else Crichton wrote while he was in medical school, this one won’t be anything too terribly new. The plot this time is a little bit more complicated, which is to say, contrived, which is to say, does not deliver when the climax comes at all. It’s also a longer novel than earlier ones—unnecessarily longer, in my opinion. Early Crichton liked to sprinkle in the medical knowledge, lots of Latin, and tries to hang the plot on some of this esoterica, although, again, it’s not really required. At its core, Venom Business, like his other early novels reprinted under the Hard Case Crimes imprint, is nothing more (or less) than a pulpy he-man’s novel, a 'Harlequin Romance' for guys. Which sounds sexist and terrible, but then so are these novels. That’s just the way things were back then, one might say, or that’s just what the genre requires. But these are just excuses, justification for filling out a meager plot that would have done better as long short-story or a novella. Its sounds like I’ve got nothing good to say about Michael Crichton’s John Lange works in general, and Venom Business in particular, but what I’ve always liked about Crichton—and it shows even in these early novels—is how readable his writing is. I don’t know any other way to describe it. Even in a long, descriptive passage, or when he’s laying down extended exposition, the words just flow by. These books are great to take on vacation, for example, because you can slip into them, get lost, and finish them up before it’s time to go back home. And then, when you’re done, throw them away.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    John Lange was one of the early pen names of Michael Crichton, best known for The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park. While enrolled at Harvard Medical School, Crichton began publishing a number of novels. Venom Business is one of a number of Crichton's early novels that have recently been re-released. These early novels compare to many of the bookstand pulp/adventure/crime novels that could be found in the late sixties and early seventies and these books should be read in that context. This one, John Lange was one of the early pen names of Michael Crichton, best known for The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park. While enrolled at Harvard Medical School, Crichton began publishing a number of novels. Venom Business is one of a number of Crichton's early novels that have recently been re-released. These early novels compare to many of the bookstand pulp/adventure/crime novels that could be found in the late sixties and early seventies and these books should be read in that context. This one, however, was disappointing. The beginning was promising with the meeting of Charles Reynaud and Jane Mitchell in the Yucatan where Reynaud is a famed exotic snake hunter. It is later revealed that he uses the transportation of the venous snakes as a cover for smuggling artifacts from Mexico and Central America. The book proceeds from there and is way too lengthy and slow as it details Reynaud being hired as a bodyguard and then the subject of a brutal plot. It was difficult to care about the characters and as a reader I was not invested in the story. All in all, not worth spending much time on, but an interesting start to a widely successful literary career.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The Good: I love a mystery that keeps me baffled all the way through and The Venom Business did just that. The real trick here is Lange/Crichton kept me entertained even while I was utterly confused. Hard boiled, noir-ish novels aren't my thing at all, but I just couldn't help wanting to know what was going on and who was really pulling the strings here. Things were wrapped up tightly on each other, each revelations giving just enough to suck me in further. The Bad: There were so many unlikeable The Good: I love a mystery that keeps me baffled all the way through and The Venom Business did just that. The real trick here is Lange/Crichton kept me entertained even while I was utterly confused. Hard boiled, noir-ish novels aren't my thing at all, but I just couldn't help wanting to know what was going on and who was really pulling the strings here. Things were wrapped up tightly on each other, each revelations giving just enough to suck me in further. The Bad: There were so many unlikeable characters in this book. Albeit purposely unlikeable, but still just a struggle to even read without wondering why someone hadn't just killed the entire lot of them yet.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    This is one of my least favorite books from the early works of author, Michael Crichton writing as John Lange. There really wasn't much of a story. I agree with other readers that there was just a lot of talking and at times repeat information as well as sex. I am not a prude but when the sex has no purpose, then, it is not needed. Charles is ok. This is kind of sad as he has an interesting job and in fact, it seems like he is a bit of a rogue. However, I had trouble connecting to him as well as This is one of my least favorite books from the early works of author, Michael Crichton writing as John Lange. There really wasn't much of a story. I agree with other readers that there was just a lot of talking and at times repeat information as well as sex. I am not a prude but when the sex has no purpose, then, it is not needed. Charles is ok. This is kind of sad as he has an interesting job and in fact, it seems like he is a bit of a rogue. However, I had trouble connecting to him as well as the rest of the characters. Plus, again as I stated, I thought the storyline itself was weak as well. This book does not "bite" you with excitement.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marcos C.

    This book was a meandering slog. The worst of the Lange books, so far. It seems like it might have been an exercise in writing, like Crichton was trying out (too many) different writing techniques throughout the book. But the story's biggest sin is how boring it is. Characters get haircuts, go to parties, have sex, talk endlessly, while the story just sits there, like a smoking toad, getting more bloated by the minute. Read only if you're a die-hard fan. Even then, there's no shame in skipping to This book was a meandering slog. The worst of the Lange books, so far. It seems like it might have been an exercise in writing, like Crichton was trying out (too many) different writing techniques throughout the book. But the story's biggest sin is how boring it is. Characters get haircuts, go to parties, have sex, talk endlessly, while the story just sits there, like a smoking toad, getting more bloated by the minute. Read only if you're a die-hard fan. Even then, there's no shame in skipping to the last 20 pages.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy Allen

    An excellent Noir fiction set in the late '60s or early '70s. I'm sure this book was current when written and that makes it better. Michael Crichton also known as John Lange is one of my favorite writers. If you enjoy Noir fiction you will enjoy this. It takes you where you understand what is happening, but not where it is going. IMO and great novel with plenty of suspense. An excellent Noir fiction set in the late '60s or early '70s. I'm sure this book was current when written and that makes it better. Michael Crichton also known as John Lange is one of my favorite writers. If you enjoy Noir fiction you will enjoy this. It takes you where you understand what is happening, but not where it is going. IMO and great novel with plenty of suspense.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Eliz L

    trashy, compelling, just right

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I had high hopes for "The Venom Business" by John Lange (a.k.a. Michael Crichton), but I ended up disappointed with it. Seventy to eighty percent of the book is quite good. But the things the author gets wrong, he gets very wrong. As I've come to expect from the "Lange" novels, there are rugged men, beautiful women, dangerous liaisons, sinister plots, vile villains, and exotic locales. You know, good escapist/thriller kinds of fun for that era--from 1970, with love. The hero, rugged Charles Raynau I had high hopes for "The Venom Business" by John Lange (a.k.a. Michael Crichton), but I ended up disappointed with it. Seventy to eighty percent of the book is quite good. But the things the author gets wrong, he gets very wrong. As I've come to expect from the "Lange" novels, there are rugged men, beautiful women, dangerous liaisons, sinister plots, vile villains, and exotic locales. You know, good escapist/thriller kinds of fun for that era--from 1970, with love. The hero, rugged Charles Raynaud, is a man of the jungle. He hunts rare snakes for a living. But he is recruited (by more than one conspirator) to mingle with vicious, two-legged snakes in London. And those reptiles are the most poisonous kind of all. The convoluted plot centers around hellion and hedonist, Richard Pierce. Pierce and Raynaud are old school chums. And Pierce is about to come into a huge fortune. But his conniving stepmother and adoptive uncle are out to make sure they maintain control of that fortune. To them, Raynaud seems like an excellent pawn to manipulate. On top of that is the complication that the beautiful heiress Raynaud happens to meet in the jungle is about to play a large role in Richard Pierce's life. That chance meeting and flirtation is a coincidence that strains belief, but the author does his best to mute it by making her disappear for a large portion of the book. The central portion of the book is one long series of mind games between Pierce and Raynaud. Are they friends? Are they enemies? Can either of them tell the difference? Richard Pierce lives a life of debauchery and excess. Yet he also has a shrewd mind and an abiding hatred of his alluring French stepmother. He does his best to win Raynaud over to his side, even as the sexy French stepmother does the same. And the sinister uncle--a clinical psychiatrist--lurks in the wings, pulling strings for his own benefit. "The Venom Business" does seem like more than one novel has been grafted somewhat inexpertly together. While there are some tangential connections from the beginning section of the book to the rest of the story--a plot point about snake venom, mostly--the "man of the jungle" seems quite a bit different once he arrives in London. Putting all that aside, after an elaborate mental and physical chess game between Raynaud, Pierce, the heiress, the stepmother, and the psychiatrist, the actual climax of the story is rushed and unsatisfying. Like it was hastily rewritten or revised. The "twist" is one you can see coming from a mile off. And the fates of the various characters involved are handled in odd and perfunctory ways. I had the same problem with the ending of Lange novel "Easy Go." The abrupt ending of "The Venom Business" was basically a slap in the face to the reader. The last chapter ends things in an arbitrary way...and it made this reader wonder why he bothered to read the whole serpentine tale if THAT was the payoff.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Timothy

    As you may or may not know, John Lange is the pen name for the master of science fiction thrillers, Michael Crichton, when he was writing in College. The book follows two characters, Charles and Richard. Charles is a smuggler of rare Latin American artifacts and uses the shipment of venomous snakes to research facilities around the world as a cover. The story opens with Charles in Mexico enjoying his profitable life when he meets Jane Mitchell, a beautiful woman. Then on his way to deliver some As you may or may not know, John Lange is the pen name for the master of science fiction thrillers, Michael Crichton, when he was writing in College. The book follows two characters, Charles and Richard. Charles is a smuggler of rare Latin American artifacts and uses the shipment of venomous snakes to research facilities around the world as a cover. The story opens with Charles in Mexico enjoying his profitable life when he meets Jane Mitchell, a beautiful woman. Then on his way to deliver some exotic specimens in Paris, he receives a job to be a bodyguard from his school-years friend, Richard. It is revealed that Richard's father has died and he stands to inherit a fortune if he can live long enough. The issue is that Richard is not only a playboy and drug/alcohol user, but also is a bit paranoid and believes that his relatives are out to kill him before he can get the fortune. He is so paranoid that he is having his Doctor uncle prescribe him doses of "arsenic" because he believes that he will develop an immunity to the poison in case someone (i.e. his stepmother) decides to poison him. Now Jane Mitchell reenters Charles' life and seems to have caught both Richard's eye and the eye of Richard's enemies. A further plot is developed that if Richard commits a murder, he loses his right to the inheritance. Will Charles accomplish his job, or will Richard succumb to his enemies' goals. While this is definitely different from Mr. Crichton's latter, more famous works, but it is definitely worth a read. Some might complain that the characters are not that likable and the subplots seems too far-fetched, but that should not prevent those that enjoy Michael Crichton's books to see how he developed into the legend of today. Give it a go, you might even like it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jakob

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I was excited to discover that Crichton had written more books than the ones bearing his own name, which I have already read. The plot for this novel seemed promising but I have to admit that some time well into the book I felt kind of bored. The story sets off in the Mexican jungle introducing our hero Charles Raynaud as a macho type snake hunter and ladies friend. Short after the stage switches to Paris and London where the rest of the book takes place. Raynaud somehow meets up with a friend f I was excited to discover that Crichton had written more books than the ones bearing his own name, which I have already read. The plot for this novel seemed promising but I have to admit that some time well into the book I felt kind of bored. The story sets off in the Mexican jungle introducing our hero Charles Raynaud as a macho type snake hunter and ladies friend. Short after the stage switches to Paris and London where the rest of the book takes place. Raynaud somehow meets up with a friend from the past and gets hired as a bodyguard. At this point we get taken to a lot of parties, heavy drinking and encounters with lovely women for the two friends. This part is actually what reminds the least of the chrichton we know, at least it took me some weeks to get though the endless escapades. After this hurdle we come back to the “normal” Chrichton with a page turning finale although the supposed twist is not very “twisting”. The book is not bad at all but a good editor would maybe advised the author to make it a short story instead.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ursula Johnson

    I am a big fan of Michael Crichton’s books and have been reading and listening to his early crime thrillers. This book completes the John Lange book cycle. I have enjoyed them all, save this one. None of the characters were particularly likeable. It was extremely long with a convoluted plot. A good third of this book could’ve been cut to tighten up the storyline. It started out ok, the snake man using his knowledge to cover his smuggling. He then is brought in by an old flame to be set up in a c I am a big fan of Michael Crichton’s books and have been reading and listening to his early crime thrillers. This book completes the John Lange book cycle. I have enjoyed them all, save this one. None of the characters were particularly likeable. It was extremely long with a convoluted plot. A good third of this book could’ve been cut to tighten up the storyline. It started out ok, the snake man using his knowledge to cover his smuggling. He then is brought in by an old flame to be set up in a complicated plot regarding her stepson and his inheritance. Being manipulated by three different people, smuggler Raynaud struggles to figure out the plot. The middle section drags terribly and forced myself to continue. The last part was excellent as the grand plans all fell apart. Yet there was no happy ending. The saving grace of this was Christopher Lane’s superb performance on the audiobook as usual. His dialects are fabulous and he made even the dull sections interesting. Not a must read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Borderline 3 stars. I would rank this as my least favorite of the early Michael Crichton novels, now that I've completed all of them. It's different from the others in that on my ereader it clocked in at about 305 pages. If it had been closer to 200 pages (more or less), I might've given it 3.5 stars or more, but this story just goes on too long. It's twisty and winding and it does have some suspense, but ultimately I didn't dig it all that much. I give it 3 stars simply because it does read ver Borderline 3 stars. I would rank this as my least favorite of the early Michael Crichton novels, now that I've completed all of them. It's different from the others in that on my ereader it clocked in at about 305 pages. If it had been closer to 200 pages (more or less), I might've given it 3.5 stars or more, but this story just goes on too long. It's twisty and winding and it does have some suspense, but ultimately I didn't dig it all that much. I give it 3 stars simply because it does read very smoothly and quickly and it does have some mild amount of entertainment factor. The characters were also a bit of a drag - most of them were just obnoxious. My tiers on the early Crichton/Lange books, now that I've completed all of them: Top tier (really enjoyed): Binary, Easy Go, Grave Descend, Drug of Choice, Odds On Middle Tier (moderately enjoyed): Scratch One, Zero Cool Lowest Tier (just ok): The Venom Business (this one).

  24. 4 out of 5

    Viva

    I would guess this book was written in the late 60's or early 70's. It just has the feel of one of those Malko Linge books, except it's not as good. The build-up appeared to go on forever as there was no point to the story and the twists went on forever. Despite the title and description, the plot doesn't have much to do with snakes. Spoilers: I actually liked the beginning of the story where the protagonist was in Mexico catching snakes. But it was just a prequel to the plot. The actual plot has I would guess this book was written in the late 60's or early 70's. It just has the feel of one of those Malko Linge books, except it's not as good. The build-up appeared to go on forever as there was no point to the story and the twists went on forever. Despite the title and description, the plot doesn't have much to do with snakes. Spoilers: I actually liked the beginning of the story where the protagonist was in Mexico catching snakes. But it was just a prequel to the plot. The actual plot has to do with the heir of a fortune, which he is supposed to collect in a month or two when he turns 34 years and 2 months old. But all it is is the rich British upper crust scene where people are having sex and doing drugs endlessly. I dnf'ed at 58% of the book because it just got boring and I didn't care about any of the people in it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Eric Callary

    The drinking, the cigarettes, the parties, the pot, the girls, my gosh where do I start? There was some action near the end, but altogether this book read more like a daytime soap opera, mixed with mild sexual harassment than a crime thriller. There were too many characters, the sub-plots were hard to follow and of course, in almost every paragraph “have a drink, would you like a drink? Fix yourself a martini, hey can I have drink, want to go out for a drink? On and on and on. At one point I nea The drinking, the cigarettes, the parties, the pot, the girls, my gosh where do I start? There was some action near the end, but altogether this book read more like a daytime soap opera, mixed with mild sexual harassment than a crime thriller. There were too many characters, the sub-plots were hard to follow and of course, in almost every paragraph “have a drink, would you like a drink? Fix yourself a martini, hey can I have drink, want to go out for a drink? On and on and on. At one point I nearly threw the book and I yelled, “ENOUGH ALREADY, MICHAEL!!” I guess that’s what people liked to read back in the 70’s. I enjoyed “Drug Of Choice” the most out of the Lange series, but I didn’t particularly like this one. I wouldn’t recommend it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    N.V. Cefalo

    3.5 stars It started out great, then the story was getting convoluted and it dragged on and on. I am still unsure of how much time had exactly passed, and if anyone had any sense of time in general?? I had a problem with the pacing of the story, it went from fast, to snails pace, to fast again, to abruptly ending - it threw me off by the end. I didn't particularly get closure from the story as well. A product of it's time with the drugs, women, and other things; it was jarring to read Crichton's 3.5 stars It started out great, then the story was getting convoluted and it dragged on and on. I am still unsure of how much time had exactly passed, and if anyone had any sense of time in general?? I had a problem with the pacing of the story, it went from fast, to snails pace, to fast again, to abruptly ending - it threw me off by the end. I didn't particularly get closure from the story as well. A product of it's time with the drugs, women, and other things; it was jarring to read Crichton's work displayed in such a manner. It was alright in the end. Not sure I would really recommend this to friends, as he has countless other masterpieces.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Annabelle

    A Lovely Sixties Noir Fiction I love a good mystery and so I really enjoyed reading this book. Sex, murder, greed, lots of alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and parties. The only thing missing was rock and roll. The Venom Business started off with snakes and weaved its way through four baffling mystery subplots - Charles the anti-hero pawn who is actually a snake catcher. Richard the broke playboy on the verge of inheriting his adopted father's empire. Lucienne the calculating about to be penniless step A Lovely Sixties Noir Fiction I love a good mystery and so I really enjoyed reading this book. Sex, murder, greed, lots of alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and parties. The only thing missing was rock and roll. The Venom Business started off with snakes and weaved its way through four baffling mystery subplots - Charles the anti-hero pawn who is actually a snake catcher. Richard the broke playboy on the verge of inheriting his adopted father's empire. Lucienne the calculating about to be penniless stepmother and finally, Jonathan the devious uncle plotting to take control of everything.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kris Frankenberry

    I have enjoyed reading the books Michael Crichton wrote as John Lange when he was a Harvard Medical School student - until this one! The previous books I read were a lot of fun and I was always learning something thanks to the author's impressive scientific knowledge. This one starts our with promise - hunting fiercely venomous snakes at Chichen Itza. It turns out the snakes are just a diversion to help the protagonist smuggle ancient artifacts out of the country. So far so good. The story quick I have enjoyed reading the books Michael Crichton wrote as John Lange when he was a Harvard Medical School student - until this one! The previous books I read were a lot of fun and I was always learning something thanks to the author's impressive scientific knowledge. This one starts our with promise - hunting fiercely venomous snakes at Chichen Itza. It turns out the snakes are just a diversion to help the protagonist smuggle ancient artifacts out of the country. So far so good. The story quickly devolves, however, into a complicated cat and mouse game to see who is going to inherit a family fortune. Without exception, the cast of characters is an uninteresting reptilian bunch and I really didn't care what happened to any of them. Was glad when it ended.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Krystle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Page turning delight! This was a Crichton book to enjoy. Suspense, sex and scandals. Venom business was amazing to read. I really didn’t want it to end. So many great characters were involved here and the plot was incredible. Possible spoiler: Jane Mitchell and Charles Raynaud... I love how these two communicate and compliment each other with their wits and talents. Richard Pierce, Dominique, Sandra, Lucienne and his step-uncle Johnathan Black wow what an unusual character bunch. They are masterf Page turning delight! This was a Crichton book to enjoy. Suspense, sex and scandals. Venom business was amazing to read. I really didn’t want it to end. So many great characters were involved here and the plot was incredible. Possible spoiler: Jane Mitchell and Charles Raynaud... I love how these two communicate and compliment each other with their wits and talents. Richard Pierce, Dominique, Sandra, Lucienne and his step-uncle Johnathan Black wow what an unusual character bunch. They are masterfully written.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tara F

    This is tough bc I love Crichton and I'm so sad there won't be any more books... but these early attempts are nothing like the later. This is I guess more of what you would call a pot-boiler rather than the deeply researched stuff he wrote later, but it's also not very skillfully done. Maybe amusing but the hateable cast of characters and most importantly the bigoted and anachronistic phrases and opinions sprinkled throughout are jarring enough to take you out of the story. At the very very leas This is tough bc I love Crichton and I'm so sad there won't be any more books... but these early attempts are nothing like the later. This is I guess more of what you would call a pot-boiler rather than the deeply researched stuff he wrote later, but it's also not very skillfully done. Maybe amusing but the hateable cast of characters and most importantly the bigoted and anachronistic phrases and opinions sprinkled throughout are jarring enough to take you out of the story. At the very very least this needs an editorial update to feel relevant to a modern audience.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...