John Ball is best known for mystery novels involving the African-American police detective Virgil Tibbs. Tibbs was introduced in the 1965 novel IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, which won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America and was made into an Oscar-winning film of the same name. Ball's departure from the mystery genre was a bestselling what-if political thriller THE FIRST TEAM. Mr. Ball was also a member of the Aviation Space Writers Association and served for a time as the public relations director of the Institute of Aerospace Sciences. His interest in and knowledge of aviation and space add a sense of authenticity to his novels that was not always present in the young adult science fiction of the period.

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