I'd agree about Crichton. I haven't read Prey, but I've read Jurassic Park, Congo, Timeline, and several others. The first one I read, many years ago, was The Andromeda Strain, and that's the one I enjoyed the most. Maybe his writing went downhill after that, or maybe my expectations went up, but it's seemed to be downhill ever since then.
I'm currenty reading (actually listening to, on CD) Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman. I'm enjoying it quite a lot. Back in my sunday school days, I was sent to classes for "bible study" and all we did was read a verse or two and were then asked to analyze "what it meant to our lives" or some such nonsense. When I heard "bible study" I expected that we would actually study the book, how it got to us, opinions about translations, historical manuscripts. whether there had been later additions, etc. Of course, no such interesting information ever found its way into the rubbish taught to kids. I've finally found a source for actual analysis of the book, and its fascinating. Of course, the fundies will stay away from this stuff as much as they can, because it shows that their "perfect book" is anything but, and that no experts can agree on what the correct version actually is. (And I've learned the word "parablepsis", which is a really fun-sounding word to know.)
Open your mind, but not so far your brain falls out
"Hurry up, before we all come to our senses!" - King Julien