James Hadley Chase is probably the best know synonym of René Lodge Brabazon Raymond, an English writer also known by other pen names, including James L. Docherty, Raymond Marshall, R. Raymond, and Ambrose Grant. Born in 1906 to a British colonel in the Indian Army, he was educated at King’s School, Rochester in Kent and later studied in Calcutta. Leaving home at eighteen, he forewent an intended scientific career to work as an encyclopaedia salesman and book wholesaler.
Inspired by the works of hardboiled American crime writers, Chase published his first novel, No Orchids for Miss Blandish, in 1938. It achieved remarkable popularity, and Chase dedicated himself to writing full time. He developed a number of dynamic series characters that featured in fast moving tales of murder, blackmail and espionage. At the time, his novels were controversial for their use of violence and sex, full of deadly villains and treacherous beautiful women.
Although Chase set many of his books in America, he never lived there, instead deriving his knowledge from encyclopaedias, detailed maps, and a slang dictionary. During WWII, he served in the Royal Air Force, eventually achieving the rank of Squadron Leader (and simultaneously editing the RAF Journal).
As an author he wrote more than eighty thrillers and enjoyed an enormous worldwide following. He is one of the best known thriller writers of all time. He was influenced by American crime writes and writers of hardboiled pulp fiction, but he rarely visited the United States and the books are based on knowledge acquired by reading and using reference materials. He has written some 90 books, almost half of which have been made into movies. Living a secluded life, Chase moved to France in 1956, and then to Switzerland in 1961. He died in 1985.