Yesterday on Facebook, I finished a 21- day, self-imposed, book covers challenge. The day before, another 10-day stretch. So I figured since I spent the last 21 days posting 31 book covers, I might as well finish the month with some nostalgic books. Some of which defined my teenage years.
I grew up with older brothers. I read what they read. James Hadley Chase”s books left an indelible mark. Portable sized novels, scandalous covers, intriguing plots and a wicked style of writing. Those quirky titles were the cherry on top.
I still remember a particular paragraph in this title which I read over and again.
There’s an amusing story about my reading James Hadley Chase.
At the start of Year 2 in the university, the faculty of arts opened a student office where dues and miscellaneous fees could be paid to the faculty.
It required volunteer students from all four departments to pitch in and keep the office running. At any given time, there were two or three students manning the place. I popped in now and then to represent my department and assist.
There was the history guy, HG, the linguistic guy, LG, and the foreign language guy, FLG. But somehow the HG had the keys to the place, felt it was his personal property, & bored us stiff with the tales about the James Hadley Chase novel he had read. All day, every day.
To my chagrin, it wasn’t even one of those which ranked high back at home, nothing spectacular unlike some iconic titles, but HG let us have it and riled us with the plot, the protagonist & how the story panned out.
One blazing afternoon, I had just about had it up to here. Enough of this 1% vessel who needed substantial filling up! Cutting him midway through his daily droning of the only James Hadley Chase book he’d read, I asked if he had read some titles I reeled out.
Mildly surprised that an ingenue-looking lass like me read such novels, HG shook his head.
Then I let him in on my repertoire on his idol;
the four titles with the CIA & the KGB agents (This is for real, You’ve got yourself a deal, A whiff of money, Have this one on me);
the Helga Rolfe series with their card titles (The joker in the pack, An ace up my sleeve, I hold the four aces et al.);
Other standalone books – One bright summer morning, The way the cookie crumbles, No orchids for Miss Blandish, the doll’s bad news, There’s always a price tag, The vulture is a patient bird, Tell it to the birds, I’ll bury my dead, etc.
In between, I threw in a little of the plot and the protagonist, letting him know that I had indeed read them.
I must have listed close to 25 titles, then told him to continue his bragging after he’d racked up more Hadley Chase novels.
When I was done, the office had gone quiet, the only sound the swirling standing fan in the corner.
The expression on HG’s face was pinched and slightly puffy. Standing behind him was FLG, who gave me a thumbs-up sign. It was LG who broke the silence with: ‘I thought you were a quiet girl.’
I was when I needed to be.
My impassioned monologue resulted in two things that day; the end of any noise about James Hadley Chase novels in the office, and HG never said another word to me for the remaining years of my degree.
I seemed to have shut him up for good.