Book Review: Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery by James R. Benn

Share Button
I got this eBook for free.
Dis­claimer: I'm a sucker for books about WWII and espi­onage novels.
Book Review Billy Boyle A World War II Mystery by James R. Benn
Billy Boyle: A World War II Mys­tery by James R. Benn is a his­tor­i­cal fic­tion story about an enlisted Boston police­man in Eng­land dur­ing WWII.  Billy Boyle, a young Amer­i­can solider, a police­man in a fam­ily of police­man finds him­self embroiled in the dra­matic events which over­took Europe in 1942.  How­ever, Boyle finds him­self tan­gled up in mys­ter­ies of trea­son and murder.

The story cen­ters on Oper­a­tion Jupiter, the allies plan to free Nor­way from the Nazis.  Only that Oper­a­tion Jupiter, a real event, was a fake plan to draw Nazi forces away from the real fronts.  Of course, Lt. Boyle does not know that.  He is brought into Gen­eral Eisenhower’s staff because of his expe­ri­ence as a police offi­cer and being Ike’s rel­a­tive doesn’t hurt either.  As a for­mer Boston cop, Boyle plays a fish-out-of-water in Eng­land.  He is the butt of jokes for his Amer­i­can­isms, but can also give as good as he takes (“we hadn’t had tea in Boston since we threw it all in the har­bor”).  Soon Boyle finds him­self inves­ti­gat­ing a mur­der, as well as an act of trea­son which sends him all over Eng­land and Nor­way.  Boyle con­ducts his inves­ti­ga­tions in a pro­fes­sional man­ner, while step­ping on toes of higher offi­cers as well as for­eign dignitaries.

Dur­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion we learn what makes Boyle tick dur­ing his rec­ol­lec­tions of his con­ver­sa­tions with his father.  What makes Boyle unique among the cliché of mil­i­tary sleuths is that not only he is Irish (some clues which involve his fam­ily in the IRA) but Boyle also doesn’t want to be in uni­form.  He grew up hear­ing sto­ries about his father’s expe­ri­ence in WWI and liv­ing under the shadow of Uncle Frank – who didn’t make it back.

From my prior read­ing about the WWII gen­er­a­tion and from talk­ing to WWII vet­er­ans I know Boyle’s dilemma was not uncom­mon.  A health male who was not in uni­form was ashamed to walk down the street.  A solu­tion to the Boyle’s dilemma pre­sented through polit­i­cal con­nec­tions which got Billy Boyle into Office Can­di­date School and, as men­tioned before, being a rel­a­tive of Ike got him trans­ferred away from the front and a police­man got him a cushy job at Ike’s headquarters.
Being unqual­i­fied to do any­thing which will con­tribute in any way, shape or form to the war effort Boyle can’t fig­ure out what he should be doing.  Before he knows it, he is being escorted around by of Sec­ond Offi­cer Daphne Seaton of the Women’s Royal Naval Ser­vice, and Lt Piotr Augus­tus Kaz­imierz of the Pol­ish Free Corps, who goes by “Kaz”.  After all the pre­lim­i­nary intro­duc­tions to the main char­ac­ters, the mys­tery gets under­way as Boyle spear­heads a multi-layered mur­der inves­ti­ga­tion of a high rank­ing Nor­we­gian gov­ern­ment official.

From my mil­i­tary expe­ri­ence I already real­ized that many deci­sions are made between the choices of “really bad” and “really really bad”, but the hon­esty of which the author writes about these might seem a brood­ing to many read­ers, yet the hon­esty of the high cost of war should be real­ized by all. There are sev­eral sur­prises in this book; I have to con­fess that I did not see the end­ing – which is always nice.   Peo­ple, main char­ac­ters we care about, are wounded in this story, men­tally and phys­i­cally, the harsh­ness of WWII, even when not fac­ing the enemy or spend­ing the night in a fox­hole is seen even from London.

Billy Boyle: A World War II Mys­tery is won­der­ful his­tor­i­cal fic­tion, the his­tory, as far as I could tell, is accu­rate, the plot is intrigu­ing and the mys­tery is solid.  While many of the char­ac­ters are cliché, Boyle grows in front of our eyes and real­izes that fight­ing Chi­nese gangs can­not be com­pared to the fields of bat­tle.  Some­thing his father and uncle tried to impress upon him before he left.  This is one of those books which do not require the reader to think too much, straight fun, a bit silly but a good and easy read overall.

My rat­ing for Billy Boyle: A World War II Mys­tery - 4
Zohar — Man of La Book
Share Button

Enjoy this post? Why don't you sign up for the RSS feed