Michael Crichton dies at 66 *

The author and creator of "ER" died yesterday in Los Angeles "after a courageous and private battle against cancer," his website announced. His books included "Jurassic Park" and "The Lost World," "The Andromeda Strain," "Congo," "Disclosure," "Timeline," "State of Fear," "Prey," and "Next." His book "Airframe" was a little-noticed mystery set in the L.A suburbs and at a fictional Burbank aerospace contractor, Norton Aircraft, that officially wasn't Lockheed.

Obits and appreciations: New York Times, L.A. Times, Variety

* Updated: The plot, I'm reminded, was not a murder mystery but about a cover-up growing out of an airliner accident. As I wrote in San Fernando Valley: America's Suburb, "the novel's heroine, Casey Singleton, is a quality assurance vice president who has weathered numerous layoffs in the aerospace industry and divorce from a drunk. She lives on a Glendale street where, in modern suburban fashion, she hears the pop of gunfire in her sleep and frets about sending her daughter to a school system where fifty languages are spoken."

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