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Billy Boyle : Billy Boyle World War II Mystery
What's a twenty-two-year-old Irish-American cop who's never been out of Massachusetts before doing at Beardsley Hall, an English country house, having lunch with Haakon, King of Norway? Billy Boyle himself wonders. Back home in Southie, he'd barely made detective when war was declared. Unwilling to fight--and perhaps die--for England, he was relieved when his mother wangled a job for him on the staff of a general married to her distant cousin. But the general turns out to be Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose headquarters are in London, which is undergoing the Blitz. And Uncle Ike wants Billy to be his personal investigator.
Billy is dispatched to the seat of the Norwegian government in exile. Operation Jupiter, the impending invasion of Norway, is being planned, but it is feared that there is a German spy amongst the Norwegians. Billy doubts his own abilities, with good reason. A theft and two murders test his investigative powers, but Billy proves to be a better detective than he or anyone else expected.
A promising premise--placing a callow Boston police officer in the midst of WWII intrigue--isn't fully realized in this first of a new historical series from Benn (Desperate Ground). Soon after Pearl Harbor, Billy Boyle escapes a combat tour because his Southie family pulls strings to place him on the staff of a distant relative by marriage, a general named Dwight Eisenhower, whom Billy calls "Uncle Ike." Billy's untried detective skills are soon put to the test in London, where he's assigned to unmask a spy who may compromise Allied plans to drive the Nazis out of Norway. When one of the chief suspects turns up dead, an apparent suicide, Billy displays a knack for forensics as he uncovers medical anomalies that suggest homicide. Hopefully, Uncle Ike will have more to do in future installments--and Benn will introduce the sort of character complexity that distinguishes, say, Charles Todd's WWI-era psychological whodunits (A Long Shadow, etc.) or PBS TV's Foyle's War, which also involves murder investigations during WWII. (Sept.)
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Showing 1-1 of the 1 most recent reviews
1 . Engrossing
Posted July 03, 2011 by Lizabet S. Tucker , Port St. LucieSubtitled "A World War II Mystery", this is a book for people with some patience. It takes a long time for the mystery to begin, but the trip is worth the wait.
The book begins slowly, taking the time to introduce our characters, starting with the main character and hero William Boyle. He's an South Boston Irish cop from a family of cops, his father and uncle, who enlisted in the Army shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It wasn't from patriotism, it was more to prevent being drafted and put in the line of danger as a grunt. Thanks to family connections, he is assigned to the staff of his Uncle, who just happens to be General Eisenhower. Ike needs to keep the Anglo-American partnership strong and wants Billy to use his new minted detective skills to help whenever there could be trouble. It isn't until Boyle accompanies Major Harding, his immediate superior, to an invasion conference that he learns his first assignment: find a spy among the Norwegian exiles.
This is definitely a character driven book, something that always hits the right spot for me. And this book delivers characters that I want to see more of, from Billy himself to Harding to Kaz, a Polish baron with a bad heart and an interest in police work, to Daphne who also works on Ike's staff and isn't certain about this brash American. The mystery deepens and we see Billy growing and evolving from his somewhat lazy and self-centered self to a man who can do the job he's given, even to his own deteriment.
Something else that I enjoyed was the fact that heroes and villains have many layers, they aren't all good or all bad. I will definitely be putting the second book in the series on my TBR list. Perhaps a small warning however. As you get closer to the end of the book, you might want to have a tissue or two present.
January 20, 2009
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