By September 29, 2011 0 Comments Read More →

What to Read Next? Have a Ball.

A Toby Ball that is. Ball is a writer, activist (working for nonprofits such as The Carbon Coalition and the Crimes Against Children Research Center. Born in DC, raised in Syracuse, NY, he now lives in Durham, New Hampshire.

Ball is the author of two excellent period thrillers. Scorch City was just released at the end of August. Set in a nameless city in the U.S. just after a war that feels like WWII, it follows a police lieutenant, a journalist, a slide guitar player, and others as they become wrapped up in the investigation of the deaths of two young women. Both women were found on a stretch of river near a utopian, communist, black community, which is problematic because any connection to the crime will probably result in its destruction by the right-wing politicos who are already railing against it. The story that follows is feverishly suspenseful, featuring two different religious sects that both practice arcane rites (but on opposing sides of the conflict.)

Ball’s first book, maybe even better, was The Vaults. Set in the same city in the a time period resembling the 1930s, the book shares a few characters with Scorch City, but there really isn’t any need to read them in order. Librarians will love this book, as it concerns an underground archivist who discovers something simple: a duplicate record that shouldn’t exist. The investigation that ensues leads him, a private detective, and a journalist to uncovering dark plots happening at the city’s highest levels of political and business power. With strong dystopian themes, atmosphere thick enough to choke on, and strong characters, Ball creates a book that is both familiar and highly original.

Both books would make excellent discussion titles as Ball has a gift for finding decidedly modern controversies in historical noir story lines. Looking in my crystal, I’d say this is one Ball that is going to be very popular sometime very soon.

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About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

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