RARA-AVIS: Bill S. Ballinger

From: Jeff Vorzimmer (jvorzimmer@austin.rr.com)
Date: 20 Sep 2009

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    I recently picked up a 1993 Harper volume of two Bill S. Ballinger novels, Portrait in Smoke (1950) and The Tooth and the Nail (1955), at my local Half-Price books. What a great $3 investment! I grabbed it because of the enthusiastic endorsements here by Alan Guthrie and on Goodreads by rara-avian David Rachels.

    Two great books these. I remember discussion about the alternating first person/third person narration of the chapters. Alan said something to the effect that "it shouldn't work, but it does." Not only does the narration alternate, but each tells two distinct story lines that converge. Throughout the two books he drops various clues as to how the story might end, but there are so many twists that inevitably you could never really predict exactly how it would play out. Although not hardboiled they are very noir.

    For those who haven't read them, I heartily recommend them. They are masterpieces of crime fiction. Even though they were reprinted as late as '93 there don't seem to be a lot of copies available. It would be great if HCC or Stark would reprint them.


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