with Harding Young

Grave Descend

Something’s going down off the coast of Jamaica… and I know you’re just hoping it’s that girl in the bikini.

But unfortunately the only thing that goes down in Michael Crichton’s book Grave Descend are your expectations.

Way back in the early 70s, the creator of such artful and addictive works as Jurassic Park and ER, Crichton wrote a bunch of dimestore pulps — quick hit adventures for paperback publishings. Writing under the name John Lange, he penned such thrillers as Zero Cool and Easy Go. Now, thanks to Hard Case Crime, these books have been brought back like prehistoric dinosaurs for us to enjoy at an amusement park.

Grave Descend, however, is a bit of a disappointment. The characters are weak, the storyline has some major holes… and overall the writing simply lacks originality or punch. In fairness, Crichton allegedly wrote the books to help pay his way through Harvard Med school… so, why not?

That said, if you’re looking for a novel to bring to the beach, one you can finish in one sun-filled session in the sand… this isn’t such a bad book. Hey, it’s got hammerhead sharks, ocelots, babes in bikinis and lots of drinking!

What’s more, you’ll get a dissertation on the virtues of vodka, and a scientific rationale for why you should not chill your drinks…

“I drink only vodka,” Levett said, pouring clear liquid from a crystal decanter. “And only Russian vodka. It is by far the most healthful of liquors. ,Colorless and pure — do you know what goes into Scotch?”

“No,” McGregor said. He was handed a glass of vodka without ice.

“Fusel oil, wood extracts, formalin, a little benzene. That is what gives it its color. Bourbon is worse. Fum, though colorless, is wildly impure and exerts a dreadful effect upon the nervous system. It contains para-nitrodiphenol. Quite nasty.”

“I see.” He looked at his glass. “Might I have some ice?”

“Ice? Ice?” He sounded genuinely horrified. “You’re joking, surely. Ice cools a beverage to approximately forty-seven degrees fahrenheit. It arrives in the poor, abused stomach at approximately fifty-two degrees — a full forty-six degrees below body temperature. It is most unkind to your stomach to drink chilled beverages.”

Remind me not to go drinking with Michael Crichton!

But, actually, I wouldn’t mind having a few with him, save the lectures. After all, he can’t be all that bad. The main character of Grave Descend takes four rum collinses with his breakfast.

Kind of like the one I’m about to go down on…

Rum Collins

2 oz light rum
juice of 1 limes
1 tsp powdered sugar
carbonated water
1 slice lemon
1 cherry

Shake rum, juice of lime, and powdered sugar with ice and strain into a collins glass over ice cubes. Fill with carbonated water and stir. Add the slice of lemon, top with the cherry, and serve.

Read more: Rum Collins recipe

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