Hyde, Christopher 1949- (Nicholas Chase, Joint Pseudonym)
HYDE, Christopher 1949- (Nicholas Chase, joint pseudonym)
PERSONAL: Born May 26, 1949, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; son of Laurence (an author, illustrator, and producer) and Bettye Marguerite (a child psychologist; maiden name, Bambridge) Hyde; married Mariea Sparks, July 23, 1975; children: Noah Stevenson Sparks, Chelsea Orianna Sparks. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, reading, clubs.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Douglas and McIntyre, 2323 Quebec St., Suite 201, Vancouver, British Columbia V5T 4S7, Canada.
CAREER: Writer. Freelance broadcaster for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1966-68, CBC Vancouver, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 1969, 1973-75, CJOH-TV Ottawa, 1970-71, and CBC, Canadian Television (CTV), and Ontario Educational Communications Authority (OECA), 1971-72; full-time writer, 1977—. Ripping Yarns, Inc., president; Nicholas Chase Productions, partner; Plain Brown Wrapper Puzzles, owner.
MEMBER: Young Men's Christian Association.
Temple of the Winds, illustrated by Joseph Cellini, World Publishing (Cleveland, OH), 1965.
The Wave, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1979.
The Icarus Seal, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1982.
Styx, Severn House (London, England), 1982, Playboy Press (Chicago, IL), 1983.
The Tenth Crusade, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1983.
(With brother, Anthony Hyde, under joint pseudonym Nicholas Chase) Locksley, Heinemann (London, England), 1983.
Echo Drive, 1983.
Maxwell's Train, Villard Books (New York, NY), 1985.
Jericho Falls, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1986.
Whisperland: A Chilling Tale of Dynastic Evil, Hutchinson (London, England), 1987.
Holy Ghost, 1987.
Crestwood Heights, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1988.
Egypt Green, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1989.
White Lies, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1990, published as Hard Target, Morrow (New York, NY), 1991.
Abuse of Trust: The Career of Dr. James Tyhurst, Douglas & McIntyre (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1991.
Black Dragon, Morrow (New York, NY), 1992.
The Paranoid's Handbook, Key Porter Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1993.
A Gathering of Saints, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
The Second Assassin, Onyx (New York, NY), 2002.
Wisdom of the Bones, Onyx (New York, NY), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Christopher Hyde is a successful Canadian novelist who worked for a number of media outlets before becoming a full-time writer. His first novel, The Wave, called "an epic of eco-disaster" by Maclean's writer Margaret Cannon, is a doomsday book with the plot revolving around the failure of the largest dam in the world, located on the Columbia River. It is also about human failure and greed. Heavy rains weaken the surrounding mountain causing a mud slide, and when the dam cracks the resulting wave of water takes out every dam in the chain, with the last being the Grand Coulee Dam, on the other side of which is a nuclear reactor. A U.S. government engineer works to avoid the disaster, and at the same time evade unidentified agents—possibly CIA or FBI—who are out to stop him. Hyde spent three years researching the story, his warning of a disaster that could be. "Readers will love every gruesome, cliff-hanging minute," wrote Judith T. Yamamoto in Library Journal. Newgate Callendar noted in the New York Times Book Review that Hyde blends "ecology, conspiracy, and nuclear disaster in a heady mixture."
Joseph P. Levy wrote in the West Coast Review of Books that Peter Coffin, the protagonist of Hyde's The Icarus Seal, has an intellect and wit "sharper than that of James Bond. . . . Above all, Coffin has guts." Peter is an investigative reporter who is contacted by his friend, Sam Underwood, about an international plot. Sam is to fly from England and meet Peter in Toronto, but the flight on which he is to arrive disappears. John North noted in Quill & Quire that the book "contains a serious underlying message about the morality of national governments and the safety of the flying public."
As they try to find Sam, Peter and Sam's beautiful sister Georgina are pursued across England, France, and Canada by an international cartel that is using chartered planes for dangerous purposes. Mary Jo Campbell wrote in School Library Journal that the story contains "some almost unbelievable coincidences . . . but the book is so good that the reader goes along willingly." Library Journal's Robert H. Donahugh felt that "with plenty of surprises and smart dialogue, this is a superior thriller."
In Styx, a team of archeologists is trapped in a cave in Yugoslavia after an earthquake shuts off their means of escape. They follow an underground river, hoping it will lead them out, and as time passes, they undergo a number of horrific events, included waking one night to find a female member of the group being eaten alive by large centipedes. Ann Vanderhoof, who interviewed Hyde for Quill & Quire, said, "One wonders what sort of individual conceives of nastiness such as this." Hyde told her, "I'm a psycho-neurotic. My books are about paranoias." Hyde said that his former father-in-law had turned the lights out while they were in an underground cave. "Do you have any idea how dark it is forty feet below ground?" he said.
The Tenth Crusade, noted Vanderhoof, "is based on more sophisticated paranoias: fear of control by organizations or individuals, fear of elimination of freedom of choice, rather than simple fears like hydrophobia and aviophobia (fear of flying)." Vanderhoof wrote that The Tenth Crusade grew out of one of the axes Hyde has to grind: the idea that some fundamentalist religious groups exert control over their members, and as "very vocal and very rich minorities, they can exert control over society at large as well." In the book, Hyde's religious group uses a symbol much like the Nazi swastika. Hyde originally planned to include fifteen pages of appendices of factual material on church-sponsored organizations that were indicted under the U.S. Treason Act for fronting Nazi groups in the 1930s, but the publisher was afraid of lawsuits. "Even without the appendices," said Vanderhoof, "The Tenth Crusade is far from a flattering profile of a fundamentalist organization. The plot involves terrorist acts, sexual torture, and brainwashing, and implies collusion by U.S. government officials and the military."
Spectator reviewer Harriet Waugh called The Tenth Crusade "sufficiently convoluted to keep the reader guessing." In the novel, photographer Philip Kirkland spends time with former lover Heather, now a member of a fundamentalist cult. Philip is then knocked unconscious and finds Heather gone when he comes to. He teams up with Sarah Logan, the daughter of a senator who committed suicide after being slandered by a conservative lobby, and they cross the country trying to prevent its takeover. Hyde integrates an account of how parachurch groups use money to achieve political goals. He also refers to celebrities such as Jesse Helms and Jerry Falwell as examples of how the religious right has attained power and influence. A Publishers Weekly contributor said Hyde "has written a cool, smooth thriller with a difference." Los Angeles Times Book Review writer Nick B. Williams called the novel "a terrifying yarn of semireligious fanaticism running amok."
Library Journal's Barbara Conaty wrote that with Maxwell's Train, Hyde's "crossbreeding of the heist genre and political suspense has produced a vigorous hybrid." Harry Maxwell is a former drifter and drug dealer spending his later years cleaning trains. He decides to pull one last job when he discovers that $35 million in new currency is being shipped from the Bureau of Engraving in Washington to New York and Boston federal reserve banks on an Amtrak train called the Night Owl. Harry assembles a group of cohorts with the intention of pulling off the job with no violence and no one getting hurt, but a heavily armed band of terrorists called the World People's Army beats them to it.
A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote of Maxwell's Train that "although improbable toward the end, the novel delivers some genuine excitement and thrills." "Hyde's fascination with trains is evident in this fast-paced thriller," noted George Cohen in Booklist.
In reviewing Jericho Falls for Quill & Quire, North called Hyde "a writer of well-researched, eminently readable thrillers. When his themes describe man's attempt to control some aspect of nature, however, his writing seems to acquire an additional edge." While passing through the small New Hampshire town of Jericho Falls, a vehicle carrying a biological warfare material is involved in an accident. The chemical agent, QQ9, kills its victims either instantly or by causing them to develop rapidly growing cancers. Hyde writes in the book that such a material actually exists and is being studied by the military. Publishers Weekly contributor John Mutter called Jericho Falls "a frightening and engrossing read."
Whisperland: A Chilling Tale of Dynastic Evil is a story of espionage primarily set in Bermuda, site of the Whisperland Hotel, to which an American draft dodger and fisherman is called by a wealthy uncle who wants him to take over the family's businesses. Louise Griffith wrote in Canadian Review of Materials that the story "moves swiftly from one interesting location to another. . . . The vivid description of these locales adds to the glamour of the book."
A West Coast Review of Books writer called Crestwood Heights "a neat high tech thriller that'll leave you feeling like you just shot the rapids in the Colorado River." Kelly Rhine, an illustrator in New York, inherits a house and movie theater in Crestwood Heights, North Carolina, and, frustrated by the hassle of her life, she leaves New York and moves to the idyllic town where technology makes the lives of its inhabitants easy and peaceful. There is no crime, poverty, or pollution in Crestwood Heights. The owner of the town's newspaper and best friend of her deceased uncle tries to tell Kelly that something sinister is happening in the town, and he soon ends up dead. Kelly attempts to unravel the mystery of the technological manipulation of Crestwood Heights's citizens with the help of Robin Spenser, a resident and former marine. The West Coast Review of Books writer noted that "Hyde's crisp writing style will keep you turning the pages right up through the unique double climax ending."
Egypt Green is manipulation on a much bigger scale. The governments of the world are considering kidnapping the brightest children and protecting them in a special environment while that release a plague that would end Earth's overpopulation problem.
Abuse of Trust: The Career of Dr. James Tyhurst is about a boy whose father is murdered and who is then trained by the CIA, with the use of mind-altering drugs, to become a psychiatrist. When he goes into practice, he sexually exploits and humiliates a number of his female patients. The man about whom Hyde writes actually became head of the University of British Columbia's psychiatry department and was charged by patients with taking them to an isolated island where Tyhurst enslaved them, chaining them and forcing them into ritualistic and sexual acts. Books in Canada's Michael Coren said that "Hyde's description of the perversion and pain involved in all of this is seldom prurient and never insensitive, but it is inevitably voyeuristic. It could really be no other way."
In Hard Target first published as White Lies, the actual Romulus plan, which was created for the purpose of assassinating the dying President Roosevelt, is resurrected to end the life of a young president who has been diagnosed with early senile dementia. A group of Washington establishment people hire a killer with the intention of taking out both the president and the vice president, who has an independent streak and who they know they will not be able to manipulate. A number of secret agencies, including the CIA, KGB, GRU, and FBI, learn of the plan, but drop the ball. Conaty called the resolution "a whizzer of a conclusion." Hyde's message is a questioning of the safety of world leaders if someone really wants them dead. North wrote that "the non-stop pace of the story and the pleasant complexity of the plot are sufficient to keep the pages turning." Frederick Busch commented in Chicago's Tribune Books that the story is "elaborately structured, and its suspense is bolstered by a wealth of persuasive details." Publishers Weekly contributor Sybil Steinberg wrote that the novel ends with a "powerful resolution and a final stunning surprise."
In Black Dragon, the military advisor to the president's drug czar is murdered on the yacht of a senator where the parties involved indulged themselves with opium. The Defense Department wants to get to the bottom of the crime but also wants to keep the whole incident quiet. They bring Colonel Phillip Dane out of retirement to investigate, and he soon finds the trail leading to a Chinese gang who itself seems to be a target of the drug trade bosses. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the story "smooth, literate, and thoroughly cynical. Well done." A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that Hyde's "dark, stately style suits his characters well, and the sheer multitude of pieces he fits into his puzzle inspires awe."
A Gathering of Saints was called "a baroque, delightfully gruesome serial-killer whodunit," by a Kirkus Reviews contributor, who added that the book is "wellresearched, relentlessly grim, and remarkably evocative of its time and place." Library Journal's Andrea Lee Shuey felt that "the book is not for everyone, but it is well done." The story is set in World War II London, where a serial killer known as Queer Jack stalks, kills, and positions the bodies of his victims in such a way as to indicate where the next bombings will occur. Detective Inspector Morris Black discovers that the killer is one of a small group of intelligence officers who broke the Nazi Enigma radio code and could understand their secret messages. Other characters include a psychiatrist who is also a Nazi spy and an American female spy masquerading as a journalist. Hyde refers to real people in this thriller, including Ian Fleming, Guy Burgess, and C. P. Snow. Booklist's George Needham called A Gathering of Saints "a fascinating story but definitely not for the squeamish." A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that the conclusion contains "images of gore and tormented madness that can't soon be forgotten. Readers who relish the raw truth of human, and inhuman, history will find here what they are looking for."
Like A Gathering of Saints, The Second Assassin is also steeped in historical detail. The year is 1939, and the United States is on the verge of entering World War II. There are those who would do anything to prevent this from happening, including assassinating Britain's King George on U.S. soil to divide the two countries, thus severing America's obligation to protect and defend England. Thomas Barry is the London detective and Jane Todd the gritty freelance photographer who together pursue professional assassin John Bone. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called the novel "a rousing political thriller that bursts with nonstop action, rapid-fire dialogue, and eminently likable characters."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.
Booklist, March 1, 1985, George Cohen, review of Maxwell's Train, p. 927; July, 1996, George Needham, review of A Gathering of Saints, p. 1808.
Books in Canada, March, 1992, Michael Coren, review of Abuse of Trust: The Career of Dr. James Tyhurst, p. 44.
Canadian Review of Materials, May, 1988, Louise Griffith, review of Whisperland: A Chilling Tale of Dynastic Evil, p. 88.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 1992, review of Black Dragon, p. 687; May 1, 1996, review of A Gathering of Saints, p. 624.
Library Journal, August, 1979, Judith T. Yamamoto, review of The Wave, p. 1589; September 15, 1982, Robert H. Donahugh, review of The Icarus Seal, p. 1769; January, 1984, review of The Tenth Crusade, p. 111; January, 1985, Barbara Conaty, review of Maxwell's Train, p. 100; December, 1990, Barbara Conaty, review of Hard Target, p. 164; June 15, 1996, Andrea Lee Shuey, review of A Gathering of Saints, p. 91.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, February 26, 1984, Nick B. Williams, review of The Tenth Crusade, p. 6.
Maclean's, October 29, 1979, Margaret Cannon, review of The Wave, p. 52; June 14, 1982, Margaret Cannon, review of The Icarus Seal, p. 53; April 25, 1983, review of The Tenth Crusade, p. 58.
Necrofile, fall, 1991, review of Egypt Green, p. 21.
New Scientist, June 16, 1988, Judith Perera, review of Jericho Falls, p. 74.
New York Times Book Review, September 16, 1979, Newgate Callendar, review of The Wave, p. 26.
Publishers Weekly, September 16, 1983, Barbara A. Bannon, review of Locksley, p. 116; January 8, 1988, John Mutter, review of Crestwood Heights, p. 75; review of The Tenth Crusade, p. 89; December 21, 1984, review of Maxwell's Train, p. 83; October 31, 1986, John Mutter, review of Jericho Falls, p. 60; November 16, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of Hard Target, p. 46; June 1, 1992, review of Black Dragon, p. 52; May 27, 1996, review of A Gathering of Saints, p. 66; February 25, 2002, review of The Second Assassin, p. 48.
Quill & Quire, July, 1982, John North, review of The Icarus Seal, p. 61; April, 1983, Ann Vanderhoof, "Thrilling the Public Is Nothing to Hyde" (interview), pp. 28-29; January, 1985, John North, review of Maxwell's Train, pp. 23-24; February, 1987, John North, review of Jericho Falls, p. 17; March, 1991, John North, review of Hard Target, p. 60.
School Library Journal, January, 1983, Mary Jo Campbell, review of The Icarus Seal, p. 90; March, 1984, Mary Mills, review of The Tenth Crusade, p. 178.
Spectator, July 21, 1984, Harriet Waugh, review of The Tenth Crusade, p. 29.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), January 20, 1991, Frederick Busch, review of Hard Target, p. 10.
West Coast Review of Books, November, 1982, Joseph R. Levy, review of The Icarus Seal, p. 30; Volume 13, issue 5, 1988, review of Crestwood Heights, p. 28.*
"Hyde, Christopher 1949- (Nicholas Chase, Joint Pseudonym)." Contemporary Authors. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.
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