A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review by Bill Crider:


  JAMES HADLEY CHASE – No Orchids for Miss Blandish. Howell Soskin, US, hardcover, 1942. UK edition: Jarrolds, hardcover, 1939. Revised edition: Panther, UK, pb, 1961; Avon, US, pb, 1961. Reprinted many times, in both hardcover and paperback. Film: Alliance, 1948. Also: Cinerama, 1971, as The Grissom Gang.

   Since the publication of No Orchids for Miss Blandish, James Hadley Chase has sold millions of copies of his more than eighty novels. A British writer who uses mostly American characters and settings in his works, Chase has a fast-paced, hard-boiled style perfectly suited to his violent, action-filled novels.

   The title character of Miss Blandish is a young socialite who is kidnapped by small-time hoods and then kidnapped from them by the members of the Grisson gang, a group based on the notorious Ma Barker and her sons.


    Ma Grisson’s favorite son, Slim, a vicious, perverted killer, takes a special interest in Miss Blandish; so instead of killing her when the ransom is paid, Ma gives her to Slim—

   She is kept in a narcotic haze by Doc, another of the gang, so that she will submit to Slim’s debased desires. Eventually, Miss Blandish’s father hires Fenner, a former crime reporter turned private eye, to find his daughter.

   There is a bloody shoot-out between the gang and the police, but Slim escapes with Miss Blandish. He is finally cornered, but this is not the sort of story in which everyone can live happily ever after.

   Chase does a fine job in Miss Blandish (even in the revised edition of 1961) of understating the sex and violence, which become more effective than if they had been spelled out.


   The pace never lags, and the ending is very well handled. Miss Blandish is no longer as shocking as its reputation might suggest, but it remains a powerful crime novel.

   Chase’s novels were well suited to the needs of the early paperback market, and many of them are highly sought after by collectors, as much for their colorful titles and gaudy covers as for their contents.

   Examples include Twelve Chinks and a Woman (Avon, 1952) and Kiss My Fist! (Eton,1952).

   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.