A man will do almost anything when a rich and beautiful woman offers him fifty thousand dollars just to make a telephone call. But when that telephone call is part of a fake kidnap plan to extract five hundred thousand dollars from one of the richest men in the world, only a sucker would gamble on the deal paying off in his favour. Harry Barber is a sucker. After three and a half years in jail for a crime he didn't commit, with no job and no money, he is the perfect target of a brilliant plan to frame him for the brutal murder of a young girl.
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Born Rene Brabazon Raymond in London, the son of a British colonel in the Indian Army, James Hadley Chase 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.
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