Large Print Reviews
By James R. Benn
A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery
By James R. Benn
Kennebec Large Print, Large Print Edition (2009)
ISBN 10: 1-59722-891-5
ISBN 13: 978-1-59722-891-6
Reviewed by Herbert White - January 4, 2010
Written by James R. Benn, Billy Boyle is the first volume in a new mystery series set during World War II. This novel series follows the adventures of Lieutenant William Boyle, a Boston Cop from a family of Boston Cops, now turned soldier. Boyle has an energetic mother who has no qualms about getting very involved in her son's life. While he was in the police force, using her considerable pull, she saw to it that he quickly made detective. Now that he's in the Army, she ably sees to it that he is assigned to a cushy office job working for a distant relative, who happens to be none other than General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Not one to coddle his nephew, Eisenhower assigns Boyle to become his own private investigator and sets him on the trail of a spy.
Boyle's efforts to track down the spy are interwoven with the impending Allied invasion of Norway that was code named Operation Jupiter. If Boyle cannot find the spy in time, the entire operation might be jeopardized. This operation, like most of the historical details in this book are real, and while most of the characters are pure fiction, some historical figures, such as Eisenhower, do make an appearance in the book. These historic details provide a fine backdrop for this mystery series.
After some introductory material, the author quickly gets into the meat of the mystery. Boyle's mother, in getting him the job on Eisenhower's staff, touted her son as an ace detective. In truth, his detective skills are rudimentary at best. Yet Boyle is determined to do well at his new assignment and quickly gets to work honing his detective's skills. To wet his whistle he gets to try his hand at forensic detection when an apparent suicide crosses his path. Boyle proves that he has the right stuff when he determines that the suicide was really a cleverly disguised murder. Boyle has a lot to learn about being a detective, but he is eager and a quick study and as his character develops over the course of the series, I'm sure that he'll turn out to be the ace detective that his mother always thought he was.
The mystery contained within Billy Boyle comes to a satisfactory ending, and while this is not an overly memorable book, Benn has made a fine start to what promises to be an interesting series. Overall, this is a diverting read that is enhanced by the story's setting and the historical tidbits that are interwoven into the story line.
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- The First Wave, by James R. Benn.
In this, the second book in the Billy Boyle Mystery series, Billy finds himself in Algeria trying to arrange for the surrender of the Vichy French, before the onslaught a full blown Allied invasion.
- Blood Alone, by James R. Benn.
The third installment of in the Billy Boyle World War II mystery series finds Billy suffering from amnesia. Despite not really knowing what is going on, Billy is determined to carry out his mission to broker a truce between various Mafia factions and the Allied forces that are invading Sicily.
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