'Master of the art of deception' New Statesman
Clay Burden married his wife Rhonda because he was tired of being on his own. Val had walked out on him - and if he couldn't have Val, maybe marriage might make him forget her. Six years later, working in Paradise City, Clay meets Val again. Married to the sinister Henry Vidal, she's changed: still beautiful and passionate, still compelling, but tense and nervous and driven by odd fears and anxieties.
When Clay leaves his job and joins the Vidal empire, what begins as a sneaking feeling of unease hardens into stone cold certainty. Val must be released from the hypnotic influence exerted over her by her husband - even if Clay has to murder to set her free . . .
Born Rene Brabazon Raymond in London, the son of a British colonel in the Indian Army, James Hadley Chase (1906-1985) was educated at King's School in Rochester, Kent, and left home at the age of 18. He initially worked in book sales until, inspired by the rise of gangster culture during the Depression and by reading James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice, he wrote his first novel, No Orchids for Miss Blandish. Despite the American setting of many of his novels, Chase (like Peter Cheyney, another hugely successful British noir writer) never lived there, writing with the aid of maps and a slang dictionary. He had phenomenal success with the novel, which continued unabated throughout his entire career, spanning 45 years and nearly 90 novels. His work was published in dozens of languages and over thirty titles were adapted for film. He served in the RAF during World War II, where he also edited the RAF Journal. In 1956 he moved to France with his wife and son; they later moved to Switzerland, where Chase lived until his death in 1985.