James Hadley Chase was born in London and initially worked as a book wholesaler. His real name was Rene Brabazon Raymond, also writing under the name of Raymond Marshall. His first novel, written apparently over some weekends in 1938 was “No Orchids for Miss Blandish”, which achieved remarkable popularity, was made into a film in 1948, toured as a stage play and was remade as a film entitled Grissom in 1971.
He was heavily influenced by American crime and gangster writers and his own books fall within that genre, with many of them based in the U.S. despite the fact that he only ever went there on short visits and much of his detail came from encyclopaedias, maps and dictionaries. During his career he published 80 books, and while he was villified critically during his lifetime he had an enormous worldwide following, being translated and published throughout Europe, India and Africa.
Chase developed a number of series characters, with several books dedicated to each and all are fast moving tales of murder, intrigue, blackmail and espionage. Characters include ex commando Brick-Top Corrigan, Californian private eye Vic Malloy, former C.I.A. agent Mark Girland, and millionaire Don Miclem.
Hailed as ” the thriller maestro of the generation “, Chase died in 1985.
An Ace Up My Sleeve – Rating: *
When three very different people come together, all out for the same thing and prepared to go to any lengths to get it, the stakes are likely to be high. But, for a wealthy middle-aged woman, an international lawyer and a young American, games of bluff and counter-bluff quickly develop into a dangerous and deadly battle. As the action hots up, Chase weaves a fast-moving story of blackmail, intrigue and extortion with a hair-raising climax.
An Ear To The Ground – Rating: * *
When a necklace is as beautiful as the Esmaldi necklace with its hundred sparkling diamonds, it is not surprising that it causes powerful emotions. It is an object that people will do anything to obtain – even murder. For Al Barney, general idler and layabout, this comes as no surprise for he knows the peculiar history that the necklace holds – an ancient story of passion, jealousy and hatred. Yet as events unfold, it becomes clear that this violent story is far from over….
‘Jewel-snatch gang stuff, set in Miami. Quite the best thing Chase has done for years’ – Sun
The Fast Buck – Rating: * *
International jewel thief, Paul Hater, knows a secret that everyone wants to know – and will go to any lengths to uncover. How long can he remain silent? When Hater is arrested in possession of a stolen necklace, the police use every possible means to persuade him to reveal the location of the rest of the collection. He remains silent and so begins his twenty-year prison sentence. Having exhausted all their leads, the International Detective Agency, acting on behalf of the insurers, must patiently await Hater’s release before they can hope to find out more. But just as his day of release approaches, Hater is kidnapped by a ruthless international gang determined to force the secret from him and prepared to go to any lengths to do so….
Goldfish Have No Hiding Place – Rating: * *
Eastlake is the kind of place where ‘nice’ people live – nice, well-off, civilised people. People who know all about each other and where everyone knows everyone else’s business – rather like living in a goldfish bowl. So when scanners are set up in the self-service shop in an attempt to catch petty shoplifters, it comes as rather a surprise when some dark secrets begin to emerge. A perfect opportunity for blackmailers….
The Guilty Are Afraid – Rating: *
When Jack Sheppey ends up dead in a beach hut in a wealthy town on the coast of the Pacific, his former partner in their detective agency starts a desperate quest to find his killer. But as private investigator Lew Brandon soon learns, this becomes a non-stop, terrifying and deadly hunt that will take him right to the heart of gangster territory.
Hand Me A Fig Leaf
When Johnny Jackson unaccountably disappears, his grandfather contacts the police for help. As they prove to be uninterested, he turns instead to Colonel Parnell of the Parnell Detective Agency. It seems at first to be a simple case of a missing person but they soon find themselves in the middle of a complicated web of deceit, intrigue and murder.
Have A Change Of Scene – Rating: *
Larry Carr is a diamond expert in need of a break. So when his psychiatrist suggests he has a change of scene, he jumps at the opportunity to move to Luceville, a struggling industrial town, and become a social worker. This, he thinks, will give him all the rest he needs…until he runs into Rhea Morgan, a ruthless, vicious thief who also happens to be extremely attractive. He falls headlong into the criminal world and embarks upon a thrilling, rapid and dastardly adventure in true Hadley Chase style.
Have This One On Me
Mark Girland, good-for-nothing secret agent with a distinct weakness for money and women, finds himself in Prague for his latest adventure. Events in the Communist country prove all too much for Girland as he comes face to face with a sinister world of deception, fraud and corruption. The result is another gripping thriller from the James Hadley Chase Library.
Hit And Run – Rating: * *
Lucille Aitkin was the kind of woman who encouraged men to run around after her and most men were more than happy to do so – so why did she suddenly want to learn to drive rather than being chauffer-driven in style? And why was Chester Scott’s Cadillac covered with bloodstains on the wrong side? And at the same time, why was patrol officer O’Brien run over on a deserted beach road when he should have been on duty on the highway? It seems that somebody knows how these events are connected, and whoever it is seems intent on blackmail.
Hit Them Where It Hurts
Somebody is blackmailing Mrs Thorsen’s daughter and Mrs Thorsen wants it to stop. She approaches the Acme Detective Agency and enlists the help of Dirk Wallace. But Wallace soon learns that he is way out of his depth and must go it alone if he has any change to succeed – after all, he is taking on the Mafia….
Just A Matter Of Time – Rating: *
An old lady’s will seems to be causing quite a stir. Suddenly everyone wants to get in on the action, everyone that is, including a master forger, a hospital nurse, a young delinquent, a bank executive and, to make matters worse, a professional killer. With such ingredients, a showdown seems inevitable and James Hadley Chase adds enough suspense to keep you guessing right up to the very last page.
Knock Knock Who’s There? – Rating: * *
Johnny Bianda is a man with a dream. He wants to own a boat off the coast of Florida and he only needs $186,000 to buy it. He steals the money from his firm, knowing that one day they’ll notice and one day they’ll kill him for it – after all, it is the Mafia. But for Johnny Bianda, the risk is worth taking and he knows it will be at least a year before they catch up with him…. Unfortunately for Bianda, the knock on his door comes sooner than he thinks.
Like a Hole in the Head – Rating: * *
Ex-army musketry trainer, Jay Benson and his wife Lucy’s dream of running a shooting school turns sour as the school heads towards certain closure. They need money – quickly, and a lot of it. At the eleventh hour Augusto Savanto, head of a vast corporation in Venezuela, walks into their lives with a proposition they can scarcely refuse – he will pay them $50,000 to turn his son into an expert marksman, in nine days. Desperate for money they accept the challenge but find themselves in a deadly game of ruthless vendettas and vengeful murder.
‘genuinely tense’ – Observer
Make The Corpse Walk
Crazed millionaire Kester Weidmann believes money can buy everything – even life and death. So when his brother dies, Weidmann seeks the services of a voodoo expert to bring him back to life. He finds Rollo, a crooked nightclub owner who seizes the opportunity for the biggest con of the century. But Rollo had not reckoned for the involvement of Celie, his exotic mistress, and Butch, the nightclub’s bouncer. And he had certainly not reckoned they would decide the Weidmann fortune was more important than his own neck….
More Deadly Than The Male – Rating: * *
George Fraser is a lonely man, and a bored man. But he has exciting dreams. In his dreams, he lives in a thrilling world of gangsters, guns, fast cars and beautiful women. And of course, in his dreams, he is the toughest gangster of them all. George Fraser prefers his dream world to his real, ordinary life so he begins to boast about it, pretending that he is, in fact, a hardened and ruthless gangster. But George Fraser boasts to the wrong people and suddenly his dream world becomes all too real.
‘an intelligent and harshly revealing piece of work with not a little serious penetration and power’ – The Times
My Laugh Comes Last – Rating: *
Farrell Brannigan, President of the National Californian Bank, is an extremely successful man. So when he builds another bank in an up-and-coming town on the Pacific coast, he is given worldwide publicity, and this new bank is hailed as ‘the safest bank in the world’. But Brannigan’s success came at a price and he made many enemies on his way up the ladder. It seems that one of them is now set on revenge and determined to destroy both the bank and Brannigan himself.
Not My Thing
Sherman Jamison is rich, very rich. He has amassed millions and now wants someone to pass them on to, the next in the family line. But he has no heir as his wife has been unable to have children. Refusing to let this stand in his way, Jamison pleads for a divorce but his wife, a devout Catholic, refuses to give into his demands. If she will not agree, she will have to be removed. Jamison hires a professional killer to do the deed but this is only the beginning of a thrilling and electrifying story of revenge, betrayal and murder.
So What Happens to Me? – Rating: *
Hijacking aircrafts seems to have become the latest fashion. Everyone is at it. Colonel Bernie Olson, ex-bomber pilot, decides to cash in on this latest trend and enlists the support of his ex-flight mechanic, Jack Crane, to lend a hand. Planning a simple hijack shouldn’t be that difficult, but they soon discover that they didn’t account for every eventuality. This is no ordinary hijack and the plot twists and turns in true Hadley Chase style until it reaches a thrilling, nail-biting conclusion.
Tell it to the Birds
When a small-time clerk insures his life for $50,000 and then suddenly dies ten days later, it doesn’t take a genius to work out something suspicious is going on. So when Maddox, the top man in the insurance business, finds out, he is determined to get to the bottom of it. And this means trouble for someone. In fact it means trouble for the beautiful, auburn-haired Meg Barlowe, a woman with a serious past.
The Whiff of Money
Secret Agent Mark Kirkland has been given the task of locating and retrieving three pornographic films. His mission must remain top secret as the films, rather embarrassingly, feature the daughter of the future president of the United States. His quest leads him to the depths of Bavaria where he finds Soviet agent, Malik, and sidekick Lu Silk also rather interested in the whereabouts of the films. Who will find them first? And once found, who’s to say they won’t immediately disappear again?
You Have Yourself a Deal
On a dark, sinister night, a woman is found wandering around Paris’ 4th arrondissement suffering from amnesia. This appears at first to be a simple case of a missing person turned up – until the initials of the leading Chinese atomic scientist are found tattooed on her buttock. This is the beginning of a dramatic adventure into the world of international espionage and intrigue with a thrilling and breathtaking conclusion.
You’re Dead Without Money – Rating: * *
Joey Luck and his daughter Cindy were small-time criminals going nowhere fast…until they joined forces with Vin Pinna, a hardened criminal on the run from Miami. They began to set their sights higher and turn their hands to kidnapping. But their hostage, ex-movie star Don Elliot, seemed to have different ideas. He wanted in so they formed a ‘quartet in crime’ and this time the stakes were higher still – eight Russian stamps worth a million dollars.
‘realistic and suspenseful far above his average’ – Observer