A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bill Crider

W. T. BALLARD – Murder Las Vegas Style. Tower, paperback original, 1967. Belmont, paperback, 1970.

   After the demise of the pulps in the early 19508, W. T. Ballard found a career as a prolific creator of paperback original novels, both mysteries and westerns. His mysteries appeared under his own name, as well as the names Neil MacNeil and P. D. Ballard, and he even wrote at least one novel in the Nick Carter series. Many of Ballard’s novels were set in Las Vegas, including three in a series featuring Detective Lieutenant Max Hunter.

   Murder Las Vegas Style is a private eye novel featuring Mark Foran, who finds himself involved in what at first appears to be a murder/suicide. The question of an inheritance is involved, depending on which of the victims died first, and as Foran digs into the case, though he seems to be making little progress, there are three serious attempts on his life, along with two more murders.

   The characters include hoods, beautiful women, millionaires, and cops,all of whom are convincingly sketched. The plotting is as convoluted as one could wish, although matters appear simple on the surface. Surprisingly, Ballard avoids the casinos for the most part and instead does an admirable job of giving a fine picture of the “other side” of Las Vegas, the desert.

   For more of Ballard’s LasVegas, see his “straight” novel, Chance Elson (1958), and the books in the Hunter series, including Pretty Miss Murder (1961).

   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

NOTE:   Previously reviewed on this blog was Ballard’s Say Yes to Murder.