Ryan Nelson

Created by James Hadley Chase
Pseudonym of Rene Brabazon Raymond
Other pseudonyms include Raymond Marshall, Ambrose Grant, James L. Doherty
(1906-85)

“I had been working as an investigator for the past five years, and during that time, I had run into a number of screwballs.”

Honest and hard-boiled but none-too-swift private eye NELSON RYAN has been eking out a living in Pasadena City (right near Palma Mountain, for all you fans of Chase’s ersatz California geography), in the 1962 offering A Coffin from Hong Kong.

It starts with a phone call from from a mysterious client (possibly one of those previously mentioned screwballs) offering a fair pile of simoles to Ryan to watch his wife while he’s away in New York on a business trip, and the susceptible shamus ends up spending the night, drinking and watching an empty house.

It finally dawns on him that it’s possible he’s being played for a patsy (as so many of Chase’s gumshoes are), and sure enough, when he returns to his office the next morning, there’s a Kowloon hooker plopped in his visitor’s chair, freshly murdered. Apparently with Ryan’s own gun.

These things, of course, move fast, and before you know it, Nelson’s off to Hong Kong and the sinister alleys of the ancient walled city of Kowloon to find out more about the dead call girl–and the killer who set him up.

So we’ve got a fish-out-of-the-water American dick in colourful, exotic and slightly naughty Hong Kong, brought to you with all the racial and cultural sensitivity of a  writer who called one of his earlier books Twelve Chinks and a Woman (1940)Granted, twenty or more years had passed since he wrote that one, and so now only the bad guys indulge in racist slurs, but seeing the book from forty or so more years, the book is still problematic.

But hey, it’s James Hadley Fucking Chase, and people loved his books. There was even a German film adaptation, Ein Sarg aus Hong Kong, that came out in 1964, although it seemed to be more interested in capturing the James Bond spy vibe of the times than any of the original source material.

Mind you, if private eye Ryan doesn’t strike your fancy, you can alwaystake your pick from the ton of other PI’s offered by the very prolific Chase, including Bart Anderson, Dave Fenner, Floyd Jackson, Vic Malloy, or Dirk Wallace.

NOVELS

FILMS

  • EIN SARG AUS HONG KONG
    (aka “A Coffin from Hong Kong)
    (1964)
    93 minutes
    Based on the novel by James Hadley Chase
    Screenplay by Manfred R. Köhler
    Directed by Manfred R. Köhler
    Starring Heinz Drache as RYAN NELSON
    Also starring Elga Andersen, Sabina Sesselmann, Willy Birgel, Kurt Beck, Amy Cheung, Rosemarie Fendel, Klaus Kindler, Harald Leipnitz 

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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