Barr Breed

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

Bill Ballinger wrote a pair of novels about Chicago P.I. BARR BREED who had a staff of three operatives. The first book, The Body in the Bed (1948), has Breed tracking down Caroline MacKormick's killer in a plot clearly derivative of Hammett's The Maltese Falcon.

The second novel, The Body Beautiful, has Breed hot on the trail of those responsible for the knifing of his girlfriend, Coffee Stearns, during one of her performances as a showgirl.

Ballinger went on to write other novels, including one with a NY P.I. named Bryce Patch, and a series about Joaquin Hawks, an American Indian CIA agent operating in Southeast Asia.

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 being Portrait in Smoke (1950), which received a Les Grands Maîtres du Roman Policier Award and was filmed in 1956 as Wicked as they Come. Besides Chicago private investigator Barr Breed, he wrote about Native American Central Intelligence Agency Agent Joaquin Hawke. 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.


  • "A shabby museum of every cliché of plot, style and action."

-- Anthony Boucher, on The Body Beautiful


  • The Body In The Bed (1948)
  • The Body Beautiful (1949)

Report respectfully submitted by Dale Stoyer.

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