Review: Figure It Out for Yourself by James Hadley Chase

Review: Figure It Out for Yourself by James Hadley Chase

Figure It Out for Yourself
Figure It Out for Yourself by James Hadley Chase

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My Rating: 3.75
Opening Sentence: One hot June afternoon I was witting in my office at peace with the world, and conscious that the world was, for a change, at peace with me, when Paula put her dark, lovely head around the door to shatter my pipe dream.

What it’s about: Vic Malloy had his life saved on a job and promises the man his services for free anytime he needs it. A few days later the man gets framed for murder and Vic finds himself in the middle of a strange and multi-layered plot with shady players at every turn.

This was fun. It felt like the perfect example of a classic Chase book where the plot keeps you on edge and guessing and you still don’t get all the facts right. The one thing this book can’t be accused of is having weak female characters. Every character felt grounded and forceful. Each had a stronghold and played their part well. The fact that Vic Malloy didn’t sleep with any of them pushes my admiration for both the women and Malloy himself further.
According to Goodreads this is the 2nd Vic Malloy book which is good because this is a character I would like to see again. I don’t know exactly what he really does, for the sake of this story we can say he was an amateur detective, I have the feeling he does whatever you ask of him. Also I really liked his train of thought. He thinks funny, for example:

The bell sounded shrill and urgent and startled me, probably because, up to now, the cabin had been as still and as silent as a poor relation at a wedding.

Kerman and I spent hours at Police Headquarters being questioned and cross-questioned by a furious, purple-faced fist-pounding Brandon and later by two quiet Federal agents who took us apart, laid us on the desk, poked us about with long inquisitive fingers, and weren’t over-fussy how they put us together again.

My yells for help would be as futile as a short-tempered man trying to slam a revolving door.

That last one really had me laughing when I imagined it. Vic had a way of stating things that made me glad to be in his head. Apart from which his assistants, Paula and Kerman, were also good for giving out a few laughs.
One random thing I am beginning to notice from my month of reading James Hadley Chase novels is that everyone smokes in his stories. It’s not even questioned. Any time two characters sit down together, male or female, they share a cigarette with each other without hesitation. That’s pretty cool if you ask me. People aren’t that cool anymore. Wish they were.

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Review: Lady–Here’s Your Wreath by James Hadley Chase

Review: Lady–Here’s Your Wreath by James Hadley Chase

Lady--Here's Your Wreath
Lady–Here’s Your Wreath by James Hadley Chase

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Opening Sentence: The boys, who had come to see Vessi die, were lined up before the bar.

Reporter Nick Mason gets offered ten thousand dollars by a mysterious voice on the phone to break open the case of the death of Richmond for whom the wrong guy has been framed. Reluctantly, but with ever increasing curiosity Mason finds himself being sucked into a multi-layered plot with dangerously colorful characters and dangers bigger than he was counting on.

Now this was fun. This was more like the James Hadley Chase I knew who knows how to spin a yarn that can have you confused and curious. Thank the Lord that the female characters in this book have more of a spine than the last couple of Chase novels I read. And no cringe-worthy cliches and dialogues from a demented villain in a wingback chair stroking a cat. Because that has happened in a Chase book before. Now I would be lying if I said I didn’t see the twist coming, and yet still enjoyed it when it came. There were times when I thought the main character seemed to be getting out of situations a lot easier than he should have. There were literally scenarios where he could have died that he casually walked away from. Not even ran away, walked away. Then again maybe because in the context of the story, he was never really a big player, just a nosy one.

What I liked:
Stronger female characters than I’m used to in Chase books
Lack of cliche dialogues
Lack of heroics from the main character, which makes him seem more human
An ending I actually agreed with.

What I didn’t like:
Dangerous scenarios that the protagonist literally walks out of unharmed.
The protagonist, who is supposed to be a writer by profession, seems to lack articulation when talking or thinking. Everything good is “swell” and all women are “dames” and nothing about him seems to indicate he makes his living with words
There seems to be a willingness to be blind to certain odd things happening right in front of the main character’s eyes.

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Review: The Whiff of Money by James Hadley Chase 

Review: The Whiff of Money by James Hadley Chase 

The Whiff of Money
The Whiff of Money by James Hadley Chase

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Opening Sentence: On this brilliantly sunny May morning, Paris was looking at it’s best.

Mark Girland is an ex CIA agent living is Paris who is hired to find the daughter of the future president of the United States and the 3 blue films she made, and to get the situation under control before they fall into the wrong hands and destroy the reputation of the candidate. ( This was back when scandalous and shameful information could actually stop someone from becoming the president of the United States.) Trouble was there were other people who were after the films (and the girl). People like the Russian Secret Service and a gang of very ruthless, very brutal, very determined international operators.

You can’t win em all. This was one of James Hadley Chase’s weaker works. There was too much male posturing and hubris for there to be any realistic substance to the story. First off, we’re talking about the CIA and the Russian Secret Service, and these people are portrayed as mostly stupid individuals with a lot of pride and ego. The protagonist was also barely believable. He felt more like the manifestation of a male fantasy to have a well-paying secretive job where you make all the right moves and make everyone else look dumb, and sleep with a lot of women. Speaking of which, the women characters in the book were annoying at best, and extremely dumb at worst. Their only role seemed to be that off air-headed dolls who jump into bed with everyone. There’s also the case of physical abuse. There seems to be a lot of that going on. It’s not even an issue, that’s how casually its mentioned. It’s normal for them to get smacked around for as little as not answering a question. That really didn’t sit well with me and had me disgusted with the whole story. Despite the fact that there were times I wanted to smack Gillian Sherman, the girl who the whole commotion is about, myself. As stupid as they come.
There were a lot of references to other Chase books throughout the story. The character of Herman Radnitz, who I have just been familiarized with in my previous Chase read,”You’re Dead Without Money”, is increasingly interesting and I am looking forward to seeing him again.
The other references made were to ‘Have This One On Me”, “This Is For Real” and “Believed Violent”.

There was little I liked about this so it seems unfair to list things I didn’t.

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