James Hadley Chase  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

James Hadley Chase is a pseudonym for British author Rene Brabazon Raymond (December 24,1906February 6, 1985). Chase, a London-born son of a British colonel serving in the colonial Indian Army who intended his son to have a scientific career, was initially raised at the King's School, Rochester, Kent and later studied in Calcutta. He left home at the age of 18 and became at different times a broker in a bookshop, a children's encyclopedia salesman and book wholesaler before capping it all with a writing career that produced more than 80 mystery books. In 1933, Chase married Sylvia Ray, who gave him a son. Following the US Great Depression (1929-1939), the Prohibition, and the gangster culture during this period, and after reading James M. Cain's novel The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934), he decided to try his own hand as a mystery writer. He had read about the American gangster Ma Barker and her sons, and with the help of maps and a slang dictionary, he composed in six weeks No Orchids for Miss Blandish. The book achieved remarkable popularity and became one of the best-sold books of the decade. It was a stage play in London's West End, was filmed in 1948 and in 1971 was remade by Robert Aldrich as The Grissom Gang.

During World War II he served as a pilot in the RAF, eventually achieving the rank of Squadron Leader. From this period dates Chase's unusual short story 'The Mirror in Room 22', in which he tried his hand outside the crime genre. It was set in an old house, occupied by officers of a squadron. The owner of the house had committed suicide in his bedroom and the last two occupants of the room have been found with a razor in their hands and their throats cut. The wing commander tells that when he started to shave before the mirror, he found another face in it. The apparition drew the razor across his throat. The wing commander says, "I use a safety razor, otherwise I might have met with a serious accident - especially if I used an old-fashioned cut-throat." The story was published under the author's real name in the anthology Slipstream in 1946.

Chase wrote most of his books using a dictionary of American slang, detailed maps, encyclopedias and reference books on the American underworld. Most of the books were based on events occurring in the United States, even though, he never really lived in the United States, save for two brief visits to Miami and New Orleans. In 1943 the Anglo-American crime author Raymond Chandler successfully claimed that Chase had lifted whole sections of his works in "Blonde's Requiem". Chase's London publisher Hamish Hamilton forced Chase to publish an apology in The Bookseller.

In several of Chase's stories the protagonist tries to find his place in the sun by committing a crime - an insurance fraud or a theft. But the scheme fails and leads to a murder and finally to a cul-de-sac, in which the hero realizes that he never had a chance to keep out of trouble. Women are often beautiful, clever, and treacherous; they kill unhesitatingly if they have to cover a crime. His plots typically centre around dysfunctional families and the final denouement jusifies the title!

He was wildly popular in Asia and Africa. He also enjoyed success in France and Italy where more than twenty of his books were made into movies. Joseph Losey's film version of Chase's thriller EVE (1945), made in 1962, was cut by the producers, the Hakim brothers. In the story Stanley Baker played by a British writer, Tyvian, who is obsessed by a cold-hearted femme fatale, Eve (Jeanne Moreau). "Do you know how much this weekend's going to cost me?" he asks Eve. "Two friends, thirty thousand dollars …and a wife." He was also extremely popular in Soviet Union during and after the perestroika years around 1990-1993.

Chase moved to France in 1956 and over to Switzerland in 1961, living a secluded life in Corseaux-Sur-Vevey, north of Lake Geneva, from 1974. He eventually died there peacefully, on February 6, 1985.


1939No Orchids For Miss BlandishDave Fenner
Slim Grisson
1939The Dead Stay DumbJohn Dillon
1939He Wont Need It NowBill Duffy
1940Twelve Chinks and a Woman
also The Doll's Bad News
Dave Fenner
1940Lady, Here's Your WreathNick Mason
1941Get A Load Of This (short story collection)
1941Miss Callaghan Comes To Grief
1944Miss Shumway Waves A WandRoss Millan
Myra Shumway
1944Just The Way It IsHarry Duke
1945EveClive Thurston
1946More Deadly Than The MaleGeorge Fraser
1946I'll Get You For ThisChester Cain
1946Make The Corpse WalkRollo
1946Blonde's RequiemMack Spewack
1946Last Page (play)
1947No Business Of MineSteve Harmas
1948The Flesh Of The OrchidCarol Blandish
The Sullivan Brothers
1948Trusted Like The Fox
also Ruthless
Edwin Cushman
Grace Clark
Richard Crane
1949You Never Know With WomenFloyd Jackson
1949You're Lonely When You're DeadVic Malloy
Paula Bensinger
Jack Kerman
1949The Paw In The BottleJulie Holland
Harry Gleb
1950Lay Her Among The LilliesVic Malloy
Paula Bensinger
Jack Kerman
1950Figure It Out For Yourself
also The Marijuana Mob
Vic Malloy
Paula Bensinger
Jack Kerman
1951MalloryMartin Corridon
1951Strictly For CashJohnny Farrar
1951Why Pick On Me?Martin Corridon
1951But A Short Time To Live
also The Pickup
Harry Ricks
Clair Dolan
1951In A Vain ShadowFrank Mitchell
1952The Wary TransgressorDavid Chisholm
1952The Fast BuckVerne Baird
1952The Double ShuffleSteve Harmas
1953I'll Bury My DeadNick English
1953The Things Men DoHarry Collins
1953This Way For A ShroudPaul Conard
Vito Ferrari
1954The Sucker PunchChad Winters
1954Tiger By The TailKen Holland
1954Safer DeadChet Sladen
1954Mission To VeniceDon Micklem
1955Mission To SienaDon Micklem
1955You've Got It ComingHarry Griffin
1956There's Always A Price TagGlyn Nash, Steve Harmas
1956You Find Him, I'll Fix HimEd Dawson
1957The Guilty Are AfraidLew Brandon
1958Not Safe To Be Free
also The Case Of The Strangled Starlet
Jay Delaney
1958Hit And RunChester Scott
1959Shock TreatmentTerry Regan
1959The World In My Pocket
1960What's Better Than MoneyJefferson Halliday
1960Come Easy - Go EasyChet Carson
1961A Lotus For Miss QuonSteve Jaffe
1961Just Another SuckerHarry Barber
1962I Would Rather Stay PoorDave Calvin
1962A Coffin From Hong KongNelson Ryan
1963One Bright Summer Morning
1963Tell It To The BirdsJohn Anson
1964The Soft CentreValiere Burnette
Paradise City Police Force
1965This Is For RealMark Girland
1965The Way the Cookie CrumblesParadise City Police Force
1966You Have Yourself A DealMark Girland
1966CadeVal Cade
1967Have This One On MeMark Girland
1967Well Now - My PrettyParadise City Police Force
1968An Ear To The Ground Steve Harmas, Maddox
1968Believed Violent
1969The Whiff Of MoneyMark Girland
1969The Vulture Is A Patient Bird
1970Like A Hole In The HeadJay Benson
1970There's A Hippie On The HighwayHarry Mitchell
1971Want To Stay Alive?Poke Toholo
1971An Ace Up My SleeveHelga Rolfe
1972Just A Matter Of Time'
1972You're Dead Without Money
1973Have A Change Of SceneLarry Carr
1973Knock, Knock! Who's There?Johnny Bianda
1974So What Happens To Me?Jack Crane
1974Goldfish Have No Hiding PlaceSteve Manson
1975Believe This - You'll Believe AnythingClay Burden
1975The Joker In The PackHelga Rolfe
1976Do Me A Favour, Drop DeadKeith Devery
1977My Laugh Comes LastLarry Lucas
1977I Hold The Four AcesHelga Rolfe
1978Consider Yourself DeadMike Frost
1979You Must Be KiddingKen Brandon
Paradise City Police Force
1979A Can Of WormsBart Anderson
1980You Can Say That AgainJerry Stevens
1980Try This One For SizeParadise City Police Force
1981Hand Me A Fig LeafDirk Wallace
1982Have A Nice Night
1982We'll Share A Double FuneralPerry Weston
Chet Logan
1983Not My ThingErnie Kling
1984Hit Them Where It HurtsDirk Wallace

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "James Hadley Chase" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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