Bryce Patch

Created by Bill S. Ballinger
Pseudonyms include B.S. Sanborn and Frederic Fryer

From the blurb:

“A real sock-it-to-’em mystery about Private Eye BRYCE PATCH and his two cases–one to find the killer of an old friend and the other commissioned in the queen-sized bed of an ex-show girl looking for her ex-husband.”

A relatively late entry from pulpster Ballinger, Heist Me Higher (1969) seems at times to have been a hastily re-purposed third novel in his Barr Breed series, as both eyes run small detective/security agencies in big cities (Patch is the head of the Amsterdam Investigation Bureau in New York City; Barr ran one in Chicago), and both appear to have a weakness for… showgirls.


In 1969?

I dunno. There’s an attempt to “modernize” it (“hippies” are mentioned), but that seems like more about re-typing than updating, because there’s little in it that couldn’t have been found in the late 1940s, when we last heard from Barr. Also worth noting is that the multiple viewpoints he utilized in his crime novels after the first two  novels featuring Barr are nowhere in evidence. About the only modern (for 1969) touch I could discern was the cover, a typically cheesy photo for the era, featuring some doofus posing with a gun, and a babe flashing a bit of flesh.

A paperback original, it’s barely even a novel, clocking in at only 120 pages or so, but for those seeking some good old fast-paced private eye action, you could do worse. Ballinger delivers.


Born in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Bill Ballinger was educated at the University of Wisconsin, and received his B.A. in 1934. and worked in advertising and broadcasting in Chicago and New York. His first novel was The Body in the Bed in 1948, and he went on to write thirty books, the most famous probably being Portrait in Smoke (1950), which was the first of his crime novels with which he experimented with alternating between first and third person viewpoints. The book received a Les Grands Maîtres du Roman Policier Award and was eventually filmed in 1956 as Wicked as They Come. He also wrote a series about Joaquin Hawks, an American Indian CIA agent operating in Southeast Asia. In the fifties, he moved to California to try his hand at screenwriting. He was eventually credited with scripts for eight feature films and over 150 teleplays, from Mike Hammer in the ’50s to Cannon and Kolchak: The Nightstalker in the ’70s. In 1960, he won an Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America for his adaptation of the Stanley Ellin short story “The Day of the Bullet,” which was shown on Alfred Hitcock Presents, and was an associate professor of writing at the California State University, Northridge for a few years in the late seventies. He passed away on March 23, 1980.


  • “What I will tell you is that Bryce Patch is a sex magnet of some great magnitude. As the way the story works out, he shares his bedroom with three lovely ladies on successive nights, one at a time, and at story’s end he he faced with happy prospect of four of them in his penthouse apartment at one time, two of them return visits from the previous three. This is what you may very well refer to as a male fantasy (but) as a low ambition crime caper, it is fun to read.”
    — Steve Lewis (Mystery*File)
  • “… Skip it.”
    Jeff Myerson (The Mystery FANcier)


Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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