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The Master Thriller Writer: James Hadley Chase

An Air Warrior and devotee of Lord Krishna has published over 120 short stories and 15 books on fiction and 4 on military history.



There is one man in English literature who perfected the art of the thriller. He is James Hadley Chase. The books of Chase were a favorite with Hollywood and at a conservative estimate at least 40 films must have been made, based on his novels. James Hadley Chase is a pseudonym of British writer Rene Brabazon Raymond (24 December 1906- 6 February 1985). James Hadley Chase wrote over 90 books of which at least 50 were filmed. He was a master writer of the thriller and is recognized as one of the greats in that genre of writers.

Hadley Chase was the son of Colonel Francis Raymond of the British Indian army. His father was a veterinary surgeon and intended his son to have a scientific career. He was initially educated at King's School, Rochester, Kent. He took to writing and used many pseudonyms as well, but James Hadley Chase is the most well-known of them. Hadley Chase wrote racy books that were hard to put down. He wrote about violence, gangsters, and lovely girls and molls who were appendages to gangsters. He re-created the mafia dons and the police in a different way, which endeared him to the public.

During World War II Chase enlisted in the Royal Air Force and rose to the rank of Squadron Leader. Raymond married Sylvia Ray in1932, who gave him a son. They were together until his death fifty-three years later. Chase edited the RAF Journal with David Langdon and had several stories from it published after the war in the book Slipstream: A Royal Air Force Anthology.


The writer

Among his more famous books are The wary transgressor, No Orchids for Miss Blandish, Vengeance, Eva, More deadly than male and umpteen titles. All his books had a hefty dose of sex and violence. World wide Chase sold over a billion books. It must be some sort of record.

He will forever be remembered as one of the greatest masters of the thriller novel. Many films were inspired by his books. The stories of James Hadley Chase had all the makings of a successful film. The plots were racy, the women sexy and lethal and the gunmen right out of Chicago and Al Capone. I for one love his books and once a reader starts a Chase thriller you can't put it down. That is his greatness.

Many of his books and his ideas were picked up by other writers. In one of the chapters of The Wary Transgressor (1952), Chase portrayed a fanatical British General. This character was lifted by Hans Hellmut Kirst in his novel The Night of the Generals. Chase threatened a lawsuit, and Kirst caved in and acknowledged Chase's original idea in his book. Columbia Pictures who made the film based on the book also acknowledged Chase as the author.

Chase wrote many novels where treacherous women play a significant role. The theme revolves around a man falling in love and is so infatuated that he is prepared to kill someone at her behest. Only after the killing, he realizes that the woman was manipulating.

Chase was most popular in France and over 30 books were filmed. He was also very popular in Europe, as well as Africa and Asia. However, his books failed to take hold in the American market. One reason could be that most Americans could not fathom how a British writer who had never been to America could create so vivid a picture of the American gangs and mafia.


A niche of his own

Raymond moved to France in 1956 and then to Switzerland in 1969. From 1974 he moved to Corseaux-sur-Vevey, on Lake Geneva, and lived a secluded life. He eventually died there peacefully on 6 February 1985. Chase married only once and remained wedded for 53 years. He is survived by his son. He churned out great thrillers. Much of the scenario of James Hadley Chase's books created were set in the gangland of America, though he had hardly gone there. It is a tribute to his writing skills that he successfully created books on that period and era. Many Americans reading his books concluded that he must have spent time in America but that was not the case.

Chase was one of the most prolific crime fiction writers of 20th century. His thrillers are dark, well-plotted, and can be read very quickly. They are set during the 1930–60s mostly in the US but occasionally in UK and Europe.


MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 08, 2021:

Sangre, it's so nice to read your comment. He is considered the top thriller writer of the 20th century, I'm sure you will like his books.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 08, 2021:

Tom, that's great news. You have tempted me to visit you some time to see your library. Who are the Malayali novelists? Any translations?

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MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 08, 2021:

Ravi, nice of you to have commented.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on April 08, 2021:

I actually haven't heard of this author before. But it's great to get a recommendation from someome who has read their works and enjoys them.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 08, 2021:

Chitra, sweet of you to comment. Glad you have read his books.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 08, 2021:

Thanks, Bill, one billion book prints, 50 Hollywood films, not an ordinary writer. Reading him is pure pleasure.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 08, 2021:

Excellent article about the great James Hadley Chase. You have covered it well.

I have read many of his thrillers, and also have some of his novels in my home library.

You reminded me of my college days, when we exchanged novels amongst friends. There were so many good books to read, and obviously it wasn’t possible to buy all of them, because they were expensive.

Thank you for sharing another wonderful article.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on April 08, 2021:

There is no doubt MG Chase's books have been widely read throughout the world and his technique of writing crime thrillers is a unique blend of human follies and the gray shades of good and bad we find in every human . Thanks for this excellent information.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 08, 2021:

Oddly, and I say oddly because I love thrillers, I have never heard of this writer. Thanks for the heads-up. I will definitely give him a try.

tom on April 08, 2021:

thank you sir,i have read all books of manohar and masters,both are dead.some famous malayali novelists and actors were ww2 veterans,but they are not all india famous,masters was a freind of brigadier usman, my library is the second oldest in kerala,established in 19t century

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 08, 2021:

Thank you, Peggy, so nice you commented.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 08, 2021:

It sounds like he loved writing crime fiction stories. The name sounds familiar, but I cannot remember ever reading one of his books. He certainly ended up living in a beautiful part of the world!

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 08, 2021:

Thank you, Tom, shows you are a well-read man and all credit for it. I wonder if you have read the novels of John Masters and Manohar Molgankar? Bot Lt Col of Indian army and great writers. Masters best Bhowani Junction and Molgankar's Distant Drums and Bend in the Ganges. I have already reviewed Bhowani junction on this site.

tom on April 08, 2021:

i have read all his books and i have read perry mason,available in torrent,walt whitman,chase,arthur hailey,james earl jones exservicemen,many writers,hollywood stars ex military ,i have watched night of the generals,kirst novels german language films in youtube,no indian thriller writer,chase books in malayalam

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 08, 2021:

Thanks, Manatitaji, That's a knockout blow by you. Yes, greatness is greatness and Shakespeare is on a different plane. Thank you, sir, for commenting.

manatita44 from london on April 08, 2021:


Yes, I did notice the reference. I do not know that Shakespeare was the best, but I always say that even today, perhaps even as I write, Stratford-on-Avon are having visitors. It was still a booming business before Covid-19. You see humans from as far away as China. In that sense, he is still immortal. Agatha has been made so in her films as is Micky Spillane, yes. Her plot was very intricate and masterfully done! Spillane was all action and yes, I like that too.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 08, 2021:

Thanks, Manatitaji, welcome comment. Yes, Agatha Christie was great but my choice still would be Spillane or Chase. Being an airman, I prefer direct action maybe?

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 08, 2021:

Thank you, Pamela, even now I read his books off and on, especially on a flight.

manatita44 from london on April 08, 2021:

Yes. I know of him. He was awesome! He and Agatha Christie compliments each other. She was a master of plots and a specialist in poisons! They both wove their stories with intrigue and flow ... movement, like a running stream.

I believe that Agatha is regarded as the best ever! She wrote more books and travelled across the world in cinemas, famous studios, theatres and also the internet, through her famous characters, such as Hercule Poirot. Lovely read!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 08, 2021:

This is a good review of all James Hadley Chase wrote during his lifetime. I haven't read anything he wrote in a long time, but I am familiar with his writing. I may read some more of his books soon as this article is a good reminder of this author's skill.

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