Book Review: Heads You Win

A Coffin from Hong Kong

It has been ages since I had a chance to read a novel by James Hadley Chase.   I was introduced to his novels at a very early age (too young, I would think) by my older cousins.  I used to read the books, without understanding many words!  What I liked about these books were, they were not too long, had interesting plot with suspense and intrigue.

A Coffin from Hong Kong is one such book - a coffin does literally arrive by flight from Hong Kong. But the hero of the novel, Private Investigator Nelson Ryan does not know that.  He is staking out the house of John Hardwick, a client he only knows through a telephone call, but who gave him a $300 retainer.    Once he realizes that the house is empty and John Hardwick does not stay there, he comes back to his office to find a pretty but dead Chinese girl!   His own gun has been used to shoot the girl and he is thus the prime suspect.

The detective on the case,  Dan Retnick is under pressure to make arrests, but luckily for Ryan, a witness places him at the stake out during the murder time.  The dead girl's millionaire father in law, sends Ryan to Hong Kong to find out more about his estranged son.  

Chase's Hong Kong is still ruled by British.  Ryans seems to find contradicting clues as he tries unravels the life of the dead girl and her husband.  He realises that there is more to it than meets the eye, including why the girl died in his office.

At 166 pages, the book is short enough to be finished in a sitting (or an evening).  All the essential elements of a classic Chase book are present - murder, deceit, women, drugs, cops - with sufficient twists in the tale to keep you engrossed.