What is the summary for A Case of Need?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Michael Crichton -- A Biography

Michael (John) Crichton (1942-2008) was born in 1942 and was the son of a journalist. Having ill health as a child and having a travel column in The New York Times at age fourteen, Crichton knew very early that he would be a writer. To bolster his education and career opportunities, he studied medicine at Harvard Medical School after graduating summa cum laude in biological anthropology from Harvard University. His prodigious intelligence and accomplishments earned him a Henry Russell Shaw Traveling Fellowship as a visiting lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Cambridge for a year. He later taught writing as a Visiting Writer at Boston's MIT.

Some of the greatest titles in contemporary American novels, TV and film, like Timeline, E.R., Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain, are the work of Michael Crichton. Combining science and technology with past, present and future settings, he excelled in techno-thriller novels that challenged science and brought light to bear on some of the world's mysteries, earning him the privilege of testifying on anthropogenic global warming before a Congressional committee. After a long fight against cancer, Michael Crichton died in November of 2008, leaving his surviving wife and two children.

A Case of Need -- A Summary

In 1968, during a time when abortions are illegal in the United States, Dr. John Berry is confronted with the news that his friend and fellow doctor has been charged with murder as the result of an illegal abortion conducted on and killing Karen Randall. The situation is complicated because, not only does Berry reject the idea that his friend and obstetrician, Dr. Arthur Lee, could possibly have done this thing, Berry has assisted Lee with illegal abortions in the past. A further complication is that the Karen Randall was the daughter of the prominent Randall medical family held in high esteem in Boston. Dr. Lee's work as an abortionist is an open secret that seems to confirm the accusations and that is tainted with racism and prejudice against Chinese-Americans, now smeared with accusations of murder.

Dr. Lee enlists the help of a young black attorney to fight his case, and, together, Berry and attorney George Wilson work tirelessly to find the real killer. Shocking discoveries unfold about Karen's drug use, boyfriends and previous abortions and about whether or not she was actually pregnant at the time of her abortion. By scouring medical records and hospital data, by battling hospital hierarchy, by rejecting the social status and medical prestige hierarchies, Berry eventually discovers the shocking truths behind Karen Randall's death, which was the responsibility of Karen's money-hungry friend, Angela.

Nolan McShea | Student

Karen Randall dies after suffering from a massive blood loss from a recent abortion. Dr. Arthur Lee, who is seemingly innocent for the cause of her death, is going to be blamed for it. The only person on Lee's side is Dr. John Berry, who is a friend of him and is trying to defend Lee with succinct evidence. While looking for evidence, he finds that Karen was a wild person who perhaps hated her father, J.D. Randall (who was also the person looking to blame Lee for her death), and also hated her stepmother. 

While searching for more evidence, he meets up with Dr. Fritz Werner, a colleague and psychologist, and Dr. Peter Randall, Karen's uncle as well as physician (Her family was medical). Both Werner and Peter are aware of Karen's past mental issues. 

After taking with several other of Karen's acquaintances, including her brother and her college and summer roommates, Berry is given a picture of one of Karen's boyfriends, a young black musician. J.D., now knowing what Berry is trying to do, tries to make him back out from proving the case, but Berry refuses and continues.

Berry next meets with George Wilson, Lee's new lawyer (His old lawyer backed away from this case; he did not want to deal with this). They try to talk to J.D. into understanding what they were trying to do, but instead, they see both Peter and J.D. with a stolen Mercedes sedan car, driving it, lighting it on fire, and pushing it off a cliff. Berry gets evidence of their actions with photography, and wishes to spread publicity about these new discoveries. However, he realizes that he must focus on Lee's trial; any other trial will ruin Lee's career. 

Peter invites Berry over for dinner, mainly to show that he isn't to blame. His alibi is his brother's wife. Berry then tracks down Roman Jones, who was caught in the photo. Jones then gets severely injured in the head when Berry attempts to follow and observe him. Dr. Nolan Hammond, the current resident, is told by Berry that in the rest of the night to come, there will most likely be more danger. 

Hours later, Jones is unable to be resuscitated. Next comes Angela Harding, with slashing injuries in an attempt of suicide. She confesses that she and Jones stole drugs from the hospital.

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