This was first published in 1940 using the pseudonym Raymond Marshall, and published again in 1961 with the name James Hadley Chase to bring it under the name where he did most of his writing. Neither of these were his real name. René Lodge Brabazon Raymond was his real name, but we all know him as James Hadley Chase, some of his books were made into movies using this name.
In this book we see an execution through the eyes of the journalist who was there to get the last words of the condemned. I’m sure it’s a pretty hard thing to watch and I’m not sure Chase has actually seen it happen despite the scene being beautifully written with lots of detail. Chase was born in London and only visited the States on a couple of occasions. He was a book seller and that probably gave him the chance to read a lot of different types of books. He also used maps, encyclopedias and a slang dictionary when writing. I’m finding it hard to pin down original information but it seems Raymond Chandler successfully claimed Chase had lifted some of his writing and used it in one of his books, an apology was issued in The Bookseller.
When I first started reading this book I thought it was a hard-boiled detective book from the 1940s era. The cover and the style of writing made me think this. But the description on the back tells us it’s a thriller. It turns out I thoroughly enjoy this kind of writing style, whether it’s hard-boiled detective or thriller is irrelevant to me. Also, the journalist does do some detective work so it just makes me wonder how it was being classified back then.
This book is a page turner. It’s written in a breathless style as if to say, “don’t put me down, make sure to finish me in one sitting”. And with only 160 pages it’s fairly easy to do. It’s also an easy reading book, crafted to be read quickly so the reader can move onto another of the author’s books. Designed to pull the reader in and make money for the author. But I seriously enjoyed it. I do wonder how it stacks up against a similar book written by an American author, someone who has actually lived in the area they’re writing about.
If you want to buy it or just click through and make me happy, here’s the link. Someone clicked through on a link the other day and I got all excited. Thank you to whoever did that. Buying makes me more happy as I get a small commission but clicking is good.