About Bill S. Ballinger

A Photograph of Author Bill S. Ballinger
Bill S. Ballinger
Bill S. Ballinger was active as a crime/suspense novelist from 1948-1971. He also was a prolific writer for radio and advertising in the 1940's and TV and film in the 50's-70's. He wrote two films produced in the 1960's. He was awarded the Edgar Allen Poe by the Mystery Writers of America.

Bill S. Ballinger Centenary

Blogger Eduardo Garcia helpfully points out that March 2012 was the 100th anniversary of Bill S. Ballinger's birth. We recommend Garcia's tribute blog post, which is written in Spanish, but which can easily be translated to your language with today's modern web browsers. Garcia compares Ballinger to contemporaries such as James M. Cain, David Goodis, Kenneth Fearing, and Fredric Brown. We love the Spanish language book cover images provided by Garcia as well.

Comments and Appreciations

John D. MacDonald

In a book cover blurb from The Fourth of Forever (1963) John D. MacDonald is credited as saying:
"'Buy Ballinger' is good investment advice for the afficianados of suspense."

Brett Halliday

The following quote is excerpted from Brett Halliday's Preface to Triptych, a 1971 omnibus editon of three previously published Ballinger novels (from Sherbourne Press of Los Angeles). This excerpt is only a part of the many nice things Mr. Halliday has to say about Mr. Ballinger and the three novels collected in Triptych (Portrait in Smoke, The Longest Second, The Tooth and the Nail). Given the dating of Mr. Ballinger's introduction in the same volume, I think we can safely assume that this was written by Mr. Halliday sometime in 1970.
"During the brief fifteen to twenty years since their first publication, all three of the books contained in this volume have achieved the status of classics in the suspense field. Many fans and critics maintain that The Tooth and the Nail is one of the finest suspense novels of American writing in the twentieth century. This is a tribute to Bill S. Ballinger's superlative talent as a storyteller. ... It is not difficult, even now, to recall the critical acclaim these stories received when they were first published. All of them quickly went into foreign translations, some eleven I believe, and were sold in twenty-eight foreign countries. ... The late Tony Boucher always felt that these stories were among the best of the best...remembered these stories with delight. ... My final word is 'I wish I had written just one of them.'"

Lawrence Block

In an Afterword for his early novel Lucky at Cards, Lawrence Block writes:
"The book probably owes a little to The Tooth and the Nail, by Bill S. Ballinger, a fine writer who's pretty much forgotten these days. Let's hope he's rediscovered. If Lucky at Cards can have new life as an ebook after all these years, well, anything's possible, isn't it?"

Bill Crider

The following quote is excerpted from this 2004 blog post about Bill S. Ballinger by Bill Crider (also mentioning Ed Gorman):
"There's been some discussion over at Ed Gorman's blog of Bill S. Ballinger, a sadly neglected writer whose books are worth rediscovery. One of them, The Tooth and the Nail, really knocked me for a loop when I first read it, more than 40 years ago. Ed isn't as taken with that one as I was, but he really likes Portrait in Smoke, which I also think is excellent. For that matter, what about The Wife of the Red-Haired Man and The Longest Second? Both thoroughly entertaining books."

Author Likenesses

The photo that appears at the top of this page is from the rear panel of the dustjacket for The Fourth of Forever (1963). Photo credited to M. Charles Linko.
A Photograph of Author Bill S. Ballinger
Bill S. Ballinger
This drawing of Bill S. Ballinger is from the rear flap of the jacket for Triptych, which was a 1971 omnibus editon of three previously published Ballinger novels (from Sherbourne Press of Los Angeles). The book also includes a Preface by Brett Halliday and an Introduction by Ballinger himself. The jacket design is credited to Jim McQuade, who may or may not have done the drawing also.
A Photograph of Author Bill S. Ballinger in his alter ego of Frederic Freyer
Bill S. Ballinger as alter ego, Frederic Freyer
This photo is from the rear panel of the jacket for The Black, Black Hearse (1955). The photo is purpored to be a likeness of Ballinger's pseudonym for this title, Frederic Freyer. The jacket copy accompanying the photo reads:

"Frederic Freyer is a man of leisure who devotes himself to nothing. He occasionally spurs himself to write, and dictates his material in an ancient Finno-Urgic dialect to a secretary who transcribes only in the patois of East Stroudsberg, Pa. It is then re-translated into English.
"His few friends maintain the above portrait is an excellent likeness, but that Mr. Freyer is usually reticent about giving endorsements. (Photograph courtesy of Etoain Shrdlu Studios). His hobby is collecting Lepidoptera Lycaedinae Pseudolycaena, an usual prehistoric butterfly of the Palelithic period. No known specimens are in existence. In 1932, Frederic Freyer won the Paul Litzer Award for his definitive biography, "The Life and Times of Benjamin Frankle". Mr. Litzer, as critics will recall, is the son-in-law of Mr. Frankle."

Bill S. Ballinger News

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Ballinger US First Editions

The following list shows the title, publisher, year, and format of the full list of first US editions Bill S. Ballinger novels. A list of reprints, UK firsts, and international editions would be much longer. Props to Classic Crime Fiction, which I believe gets the credit as the first proper bibliographic resource for Ballinger on the web. Happy hunting!
The Body in the Bed
Harper, 1948, hc
The Body Beautiful
Harper, 1949, hc
Portrait in Smoke
Harper, 1950, hc
Harper Suspense "sealed" edition
The Darkening Door
Harper, 1952, hc
Rafferty
Harper, 1953, hc
The Black, Black Hearse
St. Martin's, 1955, hc
as Frederic Freyer
The Tooth and the Nail
Harper, 1955, hc
Harper Suspense "sealed" edition
The Longest Second
Harper, 1957, hc
Harper Suspense "sealed" edition
The Wife of the Red-Haired Man
Harper, 1957, hc
Beacon in the Night
Harper, 1958, hc
Formula for Murder
Signet, 1958, pb
The Doom-Maker
Dutton, 1959, hc
as B.X. Sanborn
The Fourth of Forever
Harper, 1963, hc
The Chinese Mask
Signet, 1965, pb
Not I, Said the Vixen
Fawcett, 1965, pb
The Spy in Bangkok
Signet, 1965, pb
The Spy in the Jungle
Signet, 1965, pb
The Heir Hunters
Harper, 1966, hc
The Spy at Angkor Wat
Signet, 1966, pb
The Spy in the Java Sea
Signet, 1966, pb
The Source of Fear
Signet, 1968, pb
The 49 Days of Death
Sherbourne, 1969, hc
Heist Me Higher
Signet, 1969, pb
The Lopsided Man
Pyramid, 1969, pb
The Corsican
Dodd Mead, 1971, hc
The Law
Warner, 1975, pb
TV tie-in
The Ultimate Warrior
Warner, 1975, pb
Movie novelization, based on screenplay by Robert Clouse