Book Review: The First Wave by James R. Benn

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I bought this eBook.

My rat­ing for The First Wave — 4

"The First Wave" by James R. Benn is sec­ond book in the fic­tional Billy Boyle series.  In the Billy Boyle book (review) we meet the young Boston cop who has been enlisted as a spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tor to his uncle in Wash­ing­ton dur­ing WWII.  Only that his uncle is Ike, and he takes Billy with him overseas.


While the first book in the series I con­sid­ered historical-fiction, this book is more of a crime story which hap­pens dur­ing war time. The his­tory is there, but it there are far too many lib­er­ties taken with time-line and the story-line does not deal with any spe­cific occur­rences (such as Oper­a­tion Jupiter from the last book).

The author did make this clear at the end notes, oth­er­wise my rat­ing would dropped.That being said, I like the fact that the sto­ries revolve around lit­tle known events of World War II instead of the big ones we all learned about.

In "The First Wave" Billy has matured, he has seen dev­as­ta­tion, revenge, back­stab­bing and some more of the acts men do in war time.  Much like Billy, so has Mr. Benn's nar­ra­tive matured.  The book is still an easy read and fast paced , but is more darker in sto­ry­line as well as tone.

The com­pet­ing Vichy (that's the French gov­ern­ment the Nazi's installed) inter­ested are out­lined by Mr. Benn are very inter­est­ing. Those inter­ests shows how com­pli­cated and some­what unre­al­is­tic were the hopes of the Allies that they would be greeted as lib­er­a­tors (we were not).

The book also cen­ters around two other main sub­ject, while not as excit­ing as mur­der & may­hem are no less impor­tant and in my opin­ion even more.  The first is Pfizer's abil­ity to mass pro­duce peni­cillin.  The sec­ond is the impor­tant role of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. It was very inspir­ing to read a book which hon­ors those women who despite hold­ing a "Rel­a­tive Rank" (mean­ing they didn't have to be saluted to) and get­ting 50% less than their male coun­ter­parts, still vol­un­teered in droves to serve in com­bat zones.

The char­ac­ters from the first book are being assem­bled, this time in Alge­ria, get­ting ready for the Allied forces to take over, hop­ing the French won't put up a fight (they did).    Sta­tions in a mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal, Boyle dis­cov­ers that a drug smug­gling ring involv­ing many high rank­ing Vichy offi­cials is oper­at­ing with aid from some­one who is knowl­edge­able about top secret data.
Mix the smug­gling up with a coup, mur­ders and a kid­nap­ping and you got the mak­ing of an inter­est­ing story.

Billy not only has to uncover the cor­rup­tion which has become the norm, but also be sen­si­tive as to not screw up Eisenhower's noto­ri­ous "deal with Dar­lan" — the fas­cist, anti­se­mitic high­est rank­ing leader of the  French Vichy government.

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