Friday, December 04, 2009

Forgotten Books: THE TOOTH AND THE NAIL -- Bill S. Ballinger

In his best novels, two of which are included in the volume pictured here, Bill S. Ballinger used the technique of telling what appear to be two different stories in alternating chapters of first- and third-person narration. Eventually the stories intersect in a way that's almost certain to surprise the reader.

In The Tooth and the Nail, the first person chapters are told by Luis Montana, aka Lewis Mountain, a magician. I'm a sucker for stories about magicians, but that's just one reason I like this novel. The third-person chapters are about a murder trial, and and gimmick is that the reader doesn't know who's on trial of who the victim was. Much less what this has to do with Lewis Mountain.

I'd say more, but just about anything I added would be giving away too much and take away the fun of discovery. Best I keep quiet. All I'll say is that the volume I have also contains Portrait in Smoke, which some people (Al Guthrie, maybe) like better than the one I prefer. My own previous comments are here. If you spot this double volume, you should grab it and read it and see for yourself. Maybe you'll hate it, maybe you'll like it. Check it out.


Anonymous said...

Good choice, Bill.

I remember Ballinger's Joaquin Hawks series, including THE SPY AT ANGKOR WAT.

I'll have to see if I can pick some more of them up as it's been a long time since I read one.


Al Guthrie said...

I haven't read that one. But now I most definitely will.