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James Hadley Chase biography



James Hadley Chase

(1906 - 1985)

James Hadley Chase is a pseudonym for British writer Rene Brabazon Raymond (December 24, 1906 February 6, 1985)[1] who also wrote under the names James L. Docherty, Ambrose Grant, and Raymond Marshall.

Following the US Great Depression (1929-1939), 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.

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.[3] 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 get rich 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 justifies the title!

Unlike Agatha Christie's novels, in almost none of his novels do the readers have to guess the killer. The reader knows who the killer is from the very beginning, yet the beauty of his books were that Chase always keeps the reader on their toes, having to guess "what happens next?". This was actually the byword in most of this novels.

Information source: wikipedia