Saturday, February 18, 2017

Blonde's Requiem -- James Hadley Chase

Stark House has been doing a good many double-deckers of novels by James Hadley Chase, and I thought I'd mention a couple of them here.  One is He Won't Need It Now/The Dead Stay Dumb, with a sterling introduction by Rick Ollerman.  The other is Just the Way It Is/Blonde's Requiem, with another fine intro by Greg Shepard.  As it happens, both introductions mention that Raymond Chandler was unhappy about what appeared to be that book's plagiarism of some of his work.  It's hard to find any information about this on the internet other than the fact that Chase was force to make an apology in print.  So I decided to read Blonde's Requiem and see if I could spot any similarities.

The short answer is "no," other than something I noticed on the first few pages of the book.  Chase has nothing of Chandler's style, and certainly the first-person narrator, Marc Spewak, bears no resemblance to Philip Marlowe.  He's not much of a detective, and he gets scared all too often.  He's in the town of Cranville, hired by a man named Wolf, who wants to be mayor.  Three young women have disappeared, and Wolf believes that if they can be found alive or dead, he can with the office he craves.  The town is supposedly crooked, although we don't see much evidence of that.  One of the other candidates has hired a woman p.i. to look into the disappearances, as the cops appear to be doing nothing.  Spewak keeps telling everyone he can find the women and break the town wide open, but that's mostly wishful thinking on his part.

The woman p.i. is a good character and gets the best of Spewak quite often, even physically.  She knows jiu-jitsu, and he doesn't.  Chase moves things right along, as he always does, but the solution to the disappearances comes more or less out of left field and has little to do with what's gone before.  None of this is up to the level of Chandler, or even very close.  It's lightweight fun, and if that's what you're looking for, these four books are good places to find it.     


Deb said...

I read NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH many years ago. I thought it was a bit of a rip-off of Faulkner's SANCTUARY. Iirc, Chase was an Englishman who never set foot in the U.S. I suppose that's a bit like writing traditional English village "cozies" while never leaving Omaha.

Unknown said...

The intros mention the Sanctuary "borrowing. Case borrowed a good bit at first, but he got over that habit.

George said...

Edgar Rice Burroughs never went to Africa and I'm pretty sure "carter brown" never visited the USA, either. I've read a lot of James Hadley Chase's work. Art Scott has a great collection of Chase's work published by Corgi Books with eye-popping covers.

Karin said...

I picked up an old copy of He Won't Need It Now and while it was entertaining, it wasn't very memorable.