Review: You’re Dead Without Money by James Hadley Chase 

Review: You’re Dead Without Money by James Hadley Chase 

You're Dead Without Money
You’re Dead Without Money by James Hadley Chase

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My Rating: 2.5 Stars
Opening Sentence: With the temperature down to sub-zero and snow piling up on the sidewalks to me New York had become a hole in the head.

The story starts off with 3 small time thieves, sweet little Cindy, her father Joey and her boyfriend Vin, who decide to play it big and kidnap an actor, Don Elliot, for ransom. Ironically the actor they kidnapped was out of work, broke, facing crushing debts and on the verge of committing suicide to avoid his financial obligations. This results in the trio becoming a quartet in crime who plan a heist to steal a bunch of stamps valued at a million dollars. Since there are trust issues within the bunch and unknown outside forces at play for the stamps for reasons other than their financial value, there is so much potential for things to go wrong.
I enjoy a good heist story, especially if I like at least some of the characters. In this case I blew hot and cold towards them but still found them pretty likable in the long run. The story felt like more classic Chase, with a few nice curve-balls. The ending though will not be to everyone’s taste. It certainly wasn’t to my taste. I kind of felt that half way through the story the author changed his mind about the direction he wanted to go in and rewrote a different ending. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting it to be.
Readers familiar with James Hadley Chase will find a few of his little trademarks to smile at, like the mention of Sidney Fremlin from “Have a Change of Scene” and the story being told by Al Barney from ” An Ear to the Ground”. All in all a fun read.

What I liked:
No cheesy dialogue
Believable heist plan
No loose ends

What I didn’t like:
Ending
Joey’s character
Winding up too conveniently
Unnecessary dimensions
Possible change of heart by author halfway through story.

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Review: Mission To Siena by James Hadley Chase

Review: Mission To Siena by James Hadley Chase

Mission To Siena
Mission To Siena by James Hadley Chase

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My Rating: 2.5 stars
This was like watching a movie. I can’t think of a better way to describe the experience of reading this book. It was exactly like watching an old fashioned Saturday night action-flick. This is the second appearance of the Don Micklem character, which was also mentioned in the book by some reference to the “Tregarth business ” from Mission to Venice. I have grown fond of these references in Chase’s stories of his other books. Especially if I’ve read the other book too.
This story was packed with a lot of happenings. There was murder, a kidnapping, a secret organization and a crackpot villain stroking a cat in his lap. Can you think of anything else that says old fashioned thriller movie quite like a crazy bad-guy that pets his cat while making evil plans. This concept is so cliche now that I almost couldn’t believe I was reading it in a serious setting. Then I reminded myself that the book was published in the 1950’s when things like this were quite the rage I imagine.
As for the story itself, it was exciting. Yes it had the stereotypes common to it’s time but since this is a time-pass novel and something probably read while travelling or looking for a quick-read, you can’t really complain can you?
Despite the fact that the ending felt slightly abrupt and maybe a shade anti-climatic, this book cost me no more than a day’s read and so all in all it was not a bad way to spend time.

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Review: Have a Change of Scene by James Hadley Chase

Have a Change of Scene
Have a Change of Scene by James Hadley Chase

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My rating: 2.5 Stars

Opening Sentence: It didn’t begin to show until a month after the crash.

I really like James Hadley Chase books. I am not familiar with a lot of writers from his time obviously, but I am a fan of the vibe and sense of the time he gives in his writing.
Have a Change of Scene is a story of Larry Carr, a wealthy and successful jewelry salesman in Paradise City who loses his fiance in a car crash one night. After the trauma, the sense of loss and emotional pain disrupts his mental state leaving him bitter and angry. He is advised to have a change of scene and spend some time doing welfare work in a treacherous little town that soon turns his world upside down. He finds himself scared, and angry, and dangerous and testing his courage in ways that were unthinkable to him before.
This book was a little disappointing to me. I am a big Chase fan and I know his knack for spinning thrilling tales and gangster-style action adventures. This however fell a LITTLE short of the mark. Maybe because it lacked the punch I have gotten so used to in Chase novels. It could also have something to do with the fact that I didn’t find myself rooting for the protagonist at any given time. I didn’t find myself rooting for anyone at all in fact, and that kind of had me wishing that everything would just go wrong. Now I don’t want to be the type to give anything away. So I’ll just say I was hoping for a little more thrill than the one this ride offered.
Still I am enough of a James Hadley Chase reader to know that this was a rare miss in a truckload of hits that he’s delivered. This is still a fun read to pass some time with.

No favorite lines or quotes to take away from this one.

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Review: One Red Paperclip: Or How an Ordinary Man Achieved His Dream with the Help of a Simple Office Supply

Review: One Red Paperclip: Or How an Ordinary Man Achieved His Dream with the Help of a Simple Office Supply

One Red Paperclip: Or How an Ordinary Man Achieved His Dream with the Help of a Simple Office Supply
One Red Paperclip: Or How an Ordinary Man Achieved His Dream with the Help of a Simple Office Supply by Kyle Macdonald

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

What’s your paperclip?
What will you “trade” to make it happen?
This was a book I’d been looking forward to reading for a while. I heard of Kyle Macdonald’s blog through a magazine article years ago and I looked it up and read some of it. Sounded like an exciting idea and it’s always been on my mind. So let me say right off the bat how cool it is to be able to do this.

But as a book it kind of fell flat. Kyle Macdonald isn’t a writer, that’s obvious, he isn’t claiming to be, but he also isn’t a motivational speaker. Every chapter ends with little faux motivational messages which kind of fall short of the mark. You find yourself reading things like:
Now was two words ago.
Yep, this is just a blatantly inane comment to make you think way-too-deep thoughts. But it’s not. Unless you think it is. Then it is. If you want to analyze it, and give it meaning, that’s fine by me. But analysis and thinking won’t change the simple new fact: Now was actually more like five words ago.

Sounds like great dry humor but it gets old FAST. And not all statements are worded that well. There is a section where he describes how he was breathing and we find ourselves reading “Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.” That’s groundbreaking.
The book isn’t written in a blog-style, which is good, it’s told like a story. It starts off a lot of fun and I found myself flying through the pages, but then it gets dull and tedious and I was skimming a lot through to the end. I think this would have made a great book if it was shorter and less unnecessarily descriptive.
It was a fun read for a while, but through it all it’s hard to shake the fact that this is a story of luck. There is no skill involved here.

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