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While his birth name was René Lodge Brabazon Raymond, he was well known by his various pseudonyms, including James Hadley Chase, James L. The canon of Chase, comprising 90 titles, earned him a reputation as the king of thriller writers in Europe.

He was one of the best known thriller writers of all time.

René Lodge Brabazon Raymond (James Hadley Chase) was born on 24 December 1906 in London, England.

He was the son of Colonel Francis Raymond of the colonial Indian Army, a veterinary surgeon.

His father intended his son to have a scientific career and had him educated at King's School, Rochester, Kent. In 1932, Chase married Sylvia Ray, and they had a son. In 1969, they moved to Switzerland, living a secluded life in Corseaux-sur-Vevey, on Lake Geneva. During World War II he served in the Royal Air Force, achieving the rank of Squadron Leader.

He edited the RAF journal with David Langdon and had several stories from it published after the war in the book Slipstream: A Royal Air Force Anthology.

After Chase left home at the age of 18, he worked in sales, primarily focusing on books and literature.

He sold children's encyclopaedias, while also working in a bookshop.

He also served as an executive for a book wholesaler, before turning to a writing career that produced more than 90 mystery books.

His interests included photography (he was up to professional standard), reading and listening to classical music, being a particularly enthusiastic opera lover.

Also, as a form of relaxation between novels, he put together highly complicated and sophisticated Meccano models.

Prohibition and the ensuing Great Depression in the US (1929–39) had given rise to the Chicago gangster culture prior to World War II.