René Lodge Brabazon Raymond was born on 24th December 1906 in London, England, the son of Colonel Francis Raymond of the colonial Indian Army, a veterinary surgeon. His father intended his son to have a scientific career, was initially educated at King's School, Rochester, Kent. He left home at the age of 18 and became at different times a children's encyclopedia salesman, a salesman in a bookshop, and executive for a book wholesaler before turning to a writing career that produced more than 90 mystery books. His interests included photography (he was up to professional standard), reading and listening to classical music, being a particularly enthusiastic opera lover. Also as a form of relaxation between novels, he put together highly complicated and sophisticated Meccano models.
In 1932, Raymond married Sylvia Ray, who gave him a son. They were together until his death fifty three years later. Prohibition and the ensuing US Great Depression (1929–1939), had given rise to the Chicago gangster culture just prior to World War II. This, combined with her book trade experience, made him realise that there was a big demand for gangster stories. He wrote as R. Raymond, James Hadley Chase, James L. Docherty, Ambrose Grant and Raymond Marshall.
During World War II he served in the Royal Air Force, achieving the rank of Squadron Leader. Chase edited the RAF Journal with David Langdon and had several stories from it published after the war in the book Slipstream: A Royal Air Force Anthology.
Raymond moved to France in 1956 and then to Switzerland in 1969, living a secluded life in Corseaux-sur-Vevey, on Lake Geneva, from 1974. He eventually died there peacefully on 6 February 1985.