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Strictly for Cash: My Best James Hadley Chase Novel
Right from the very beginning, you will immediately discover that you are onto something big for sure! The stage opens with some action and a promise of revenge and before you know it, you are hooked.
Then you start turning the pages. The stage is now set for a jolly good old ride into another world of entertainment where different characters are used to portray the different yet surprising characters you can always be sure to find in this funny and unpredictable animal called man.
Follow me as I take you through an exploding world of crime, deceit and double-crossing, blackmail, murder, action, blood and violence, greed, nerves, tragedy, unending mix of suspense and of course love and passion all combined effectively by the thriller maestro himself to give you a hair-raising adventure guaranteed to give you that feeling of wanting to explode in the end!
What am I talking about?
Of course I am talking about that wonderful James Hadley Chase novel titled ‘Strictly for Cash’!
What wouldn't people do for cash, really? By their names we shall know them and that is so true with this very piece of master stroke of a gift which Hadley Chase has given to the world! Yes every event that occurred in the novel was simply executed on a strictly for cash basis!
The protagonist of this novel is a man by the name Johnny Farrar. His character was described as a vagabond traveler with a well formed physique who had this tall ambition of making some sweet pile of money and the only place where he thought he could realize this dream was in Miami.
And with that opener, the stage is all set…
Series of events leads Johnny into the world of hard core criminals who will never think twice to double-cross or even eliminate someone as long as the name of the game is strictly for cash! Our hero Johnny who happens to have the physique, strength and talent for boxing, by a stroke of good or bad luck as the case might be, got introduced into the world of criminal boxing-match fixers.
It happened that the first place where Johnny set foot was an inn run by one nice but feeble man and his wife. Unfortunately for this man and hoodlums that Johnny met there, a fight occurred. These hoodlums were molesting and sexually harassing the man’s wife right in his presence with such a wanton abandon because they knew he was completely powerless to stop them and when he tried to do protect his wife by stopping them, these goons landed him some very heavy punches as a reward to failing to understand that they were the local untouchables.
If there was anything our guy Johnny hated in this world, it was oppression of any kind. So it wasn't so surprising that he had to step up in defense for this helpless inn-keeper and his wife. A fight ensued which resulted in Johnny knocking out the lead-thug together with some of his teeth too with his memorable and characteristic ‘left hook’ power punch which no one has ever withstood nor survived in the story! Fortunately for the inn-keeper indeed…
But unfortunately for Johnny that was the beginning of the whole trouble for him because the guy he knocked out was a local boxing champion who was supposed to fight in an already fixed boxing match with another reigning champion known as the Miami Kid in a match bout charade organized by his match fixing boss who is a very dangerous kingpin in the town better described as a viper.
To alleviate matters and still have everything go according to planned, a change in plans was arranged with the ‘left hook’ power punching Johnny having to take the place of the man he just knocked out in that pre-planned charade of a boxing match.
Unfortunately for this match fixer city boss, our dear Johnny was an altruistic and conscientious as well as a principled human being who has never involved himself in such a shady deal in his whole boxing career but like the saying goes, there’s always a first time…
And indeed, it looked like a first time for Johnny to fake a fight until he saw her.
This woman called Della represented the beginning of the end for our hero Johnny. She was at the ringside on that fateful match day with her husband and at the very moment when Johnny wanted to throw in the towel in the mock fight with the Miami Kid, something he saw in her made him to think again. Call that thing trouble if you like!
Johnny double- crossed the fixers. It wasn't actually a double-cross because he was just trying to be himself and a little but determined nudging from this strange woman by the ringside to get up and fight was all he needed to let down the gates of hell for many people starting with himself…though he never knew the extent of that damage at that time!
Because Johnny didn't go down as planned in the match, he knew he was going to face the music from the kingpin match fixer of the town who had two thugs who are always more than ready to execute their master’s evil bidding anytime. These two hoodlums, Pepi and Benno, were now ready to finish Johnny off but they will never make a move on him in the midst of the crowds who have gathered to watch the match.
But then, what’s the need to worry or hurry? They had time and the crowd was beginning to thin down as people started to leave the arena. Johnny had to escape but how?
Enter this strange woman again - Della.
She was wise enough to spot the mockery that was the match and that meant she was also knowledgeable of the consequences of going against the evil master’s wishes. Besides, according to her, she also took a bet that Johnny Farrar will win the fight and all these contributed in her risking her neck (and her husband’s too) to save him. She provided the vehicle for Johnny to escape in it with them.
There was the escape and there was the pursuit. But in the end, with Della’s help, Johnny was able to escape the hot chase from Pepi and Benno but what an escape it was?!
Their vehicle suffered a catastrophic crash and Della’s husband didn't survive as he died on the spot.
End of season 1, if you like.
James Hadley Chase now spun his master stroke that has distinguished him as the thriller maestro of our generation.
Without any warning, he transported and transformed our dear old Johnny from the altruistic Johnny we just met and loved into a scheming, stealing, betraying, cheating, highly dangerous and murderous evil character who is constantly running from the ghost of his past as many people whom he had stolen something from now wanted him dead and gone leaving you in a great confusion wondering what went wrong or what really happened in between?
Sorry, I won’t tell you what happened. I don’t want to tell you the whole story because there is no way I can even do that. It’s better you find out for yourself because when you do find out, you will exactly understand why I said that of all James Hadley Chase novels I have come across, that classic ‘Strictly for Cash’ is my best ever!
For sure, you will also be interested in the turn out of events as Johnny desperately tried to clear up his name in a very hair-raising, dangerous but tragic cat-and-mouse adventure everything turned out to be.
If you are looking a non-voluminous novel that will surely boggle and juggle your mind with such an explosive orgasmic imaginations together with the feeling of seating on the edge of your seat while wondering what happened next due to the avalanche of suspense as you turn over the pages non-stop, then believe me when I say to you that Strictly for Cash is it!