Monday, July 23, 2012

Crime Fiction Alphabet: Letter J

The Crime Fiction Alphabet meme is rolling along and we are up to the Letter "J". Kerrie over at Mysteries in Paradise is keeping us all in line. My contribution for this week is the author:

James Hadley Chase (1906 to1985)

Mr Chase was born René Lodge Brabazon Raymond in London England on December 24th, 1906, he would move to France in 1956 and eventually resided in Switzerland. Chase died on February 6th 1985. He is one of the best known thriller writers of all time. 

The rise of the gangster culture during the Great Depression of the United States provided a big demand for gangster stories. Chase read James Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice and read about Ma Barker, using an American slang dictionary and maps of the U.S underworld, he then wrote his first No Orchids for Miss Blandish in his spare time.  All of his novels were so fast-paced that the reader was compelled to turn the pages in a nonstop effort to reach the end of the book. The final page often produced a totally unexpected plot twist variably Early books did contain some violence that matched the era in which they were written, though this was considerably toned down as plots centered more on circumstantial situations to create the high degree of tension that was the hallmark of his writing. Sex was never explicit and, though often hinted at, seldom happened. In several of his stories, the protagonist tries to get rich by committing a crime, either by insurance fraud or a theft. But the scheme invariably fails and leads to a murder 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 criminal act.  His plots typically centered around dysfunctional families, and the final denouement echoes the title. Chase's best market was France. In France more than thirty books were made into movies, and all of his ninety titles were published by Gallimard in their Série noire series. He was also very popular in other European markets, as well as Africa and Asia. However, his books failed to take hold in the American market partially due to the fact that the descriptive details did not seem convincing to American readers. This, together with their misogynist attitude, turned off the female market.

Various Covers



The Titles
Title Central character(s)
1939 No Orchids for Miss Blandish
also The Villain and the Virgin
Dave Fenner
Slim Grisson
1941 The Dead Stay Dumb Chet Sladen
1941 Twelve Chinks and a Woman
also Twelve Chinamen and a Woman
also The Doll's Bad News
Dave Fenner
Glorie Leadler
1941 Miss Callaghan Comes to Grief Jay Ellinger
1942 Get a Load of This (short story collection)
1944 Miss Shumway Waves a Wand Ross Millan
Myra Shumway
1945 Eve Clive Thurston
1946 I'll Get You for This Chester Cain
1947 Last Page (play)
1948 The Flesh of the Orchid Carol Blandish
The Sullivan Brothers
1949 You Never Know with Women Floyd Jackson
1949 You're Lonely When You're Dead Vic Malloy
Paula Bensinger
Jack Kerman
1950 Figure It Out for Yourself
also The Marijuana Mob
Vic Malloy
Paula Bensinger
Jack Kerman
1950 Lay Her Among the Lillies Vic Malloy
Paula Bensinger
Jack Kerman
1951 Strictly for Cash Johnny Farrar
1952 The Fast Buck Verne Baird
1952 The Double Shuffle Steve Harmas
1953 I'll Bury My Dead Nick English
1953 This Way for a Shroud Paul Conard
Vito Ferrari
1954 Tiger By the Tail Ken Holland
1954 Safer Dead Chet Sladen
1955 You've Got It Coming Harry Griffin
1956 There's Always a Price Tag Steve Harmas, Glyn Nash
1957 The Guilty Are Afraid Lew Brandon
1958 Not Safe to Be Free
also The Case Of The Strangled Starlet
Jay Delaney
1959 Shock Treatment Steve Harmas, Terry Regan
1959 The World in My Pocket Morgan
1960 What's Better Than Money Jefferson Halliday
1960 Come Easy - Go Easy Chet Carson
1961 A Lotus for Miss Quon Steve Jaffe
1961 Just Another Sucker Harry Barber, John Renick
1962 I Would Rather Stay Poor Dave Calvin
1962 A Coffin from Hong Kong Nelson Ryan
1963 One Bright Summer Morning
1963 Tell It to the Birds Steve Harmas, John Anson
1964 The Soft Centre Frank Terrell
Valiere Burnette
1965 This Is for Real Mark Girland
1965 The Way the Cookie Crumbles Frank Terrell
1966 You Have Yourself a Deal Mark Girland
1966 Padillo's Play McCorkle
1966 Cade Val Cade
1967 Have This One on Me Mark Girland
1967 Well Now - My Pretty Frank Terrell
1968 An Ear to the Ground Steve Harmas, Al Barney
1968 Believed Violent Frank Terrell, Jay Delaney
1969 The Whiff of Money Mark Girland
1969 The Vulture Is a Patient Bird Max Kahlenberg
1970 Like a Hole in the Head Jay Benson
1970 There's a Hippie on the Highway Frank Terrell, Harry Mitchell
1971 Want to Stay Alive? Poke Toholo
1971 An Ace Up My Sleeve Helga Rolfe
1972 Just a Matter of Time Chris Patterson
Sheila Oldhill
Miss Morely-Johnson
1972 You're Dead Without Money Al Barney
1973 Have a Change of Scene Larry Carr
1973 Knock, Knock! Who's There? Johnny Bianda
1974 So What Happens To Me? Jack Crane
1974 Goldfish Have No Hiding Place Steve Manson
1975 Believe This - You'll Believe Anything Clay Burden
1975 The Joker in the Pack Helga Rolfe
1976 Do Me a Favour, Drop Dead Keith Devery
1977 My Laugh Comes Last Larry Lucas
1977 I Hold the Four Aces Helga Rolfe
1978 Consider Yourself Dead Mike Frost
1979 You Must Be Kidding Ken Holland
Paradise City Police Force
1979 A Can of Worms Bart Anderson
1980 You Can Say That Again Jerry Stevens
1980 Try This One for Size Paradise City Police Force
1981 Hand Me a Fig Leaf Dirk Wallace
1982 Have a Nice Night
1982 We'll Share a Double Funeral Perry Weston
Chet Logan
1983 Not My Thing Ernie Kling
1984 Hit Them Where It Hurts Dirk Wallace
Thanks for visiting.


  1. First I have to tell you how much I love your site. I collect some vintage paperbacks also but nowhere near as many as you have. I haven't had time to look at everything here yet, so each time I come back I check more out.

    I have heard of James Hadley Chase but did not know much about him. I enjoyed this post.

  2. Sex sells. It's so funny to see those covers. They don't even seem to resemble what the book is about. Thanks for the reviews.

  3. Scott - Chase was such a great pulp/noir/hardboiled author! Thanks for reminding me of that niche he filled. And I agree with Tracy - Great vintage covers here!

  4. What an impressive list! Love the old vintage covers, Scott. Great post.

  5. Get rich by committing a crime? haha...ops! no, just want to quote it...this get rich stuff is really driving me on becoming workaholic! I even have found this one

  6. Thanks for the visit and the comments.

  7. Greta choice - haven't thought of Chase in ages. When I was growing upo in the 70s the slightly salacious covers of the Corgi editions seemed to be omnipresent (very similar to the Bond covers actually). Chase famously plagiarised Cain and Chandler, more than once and had to make restitution in fact, though whatever name he published onder (he also write a fair few as "Raymond Marshall') he was always a competent craftsman.

  8. I don't think that the accusations of misogyny are accurate, or the related inference that the books didn't appeal to women readers. Chase's main strength as a writer was in capturing your attention from the first page and then keeping you reading.