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Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery by James…

Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery (edition 2011)

by James R. Benn

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4282135,135 (3.52)37
Title:Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery
Authors:James R. Benn
Info:Soho Crime (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library

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Billy Boyle by James R. Benn



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I think I liked the idea of this book better than I liked the actual book. The main character was engaging, but the plot felt a little convoluted and I just had trouble getting into it. ( )
  AliceAnna | Jun 25, 2018 |
Billy Boyle's father is a pretty good police detective in Boston, and through his dad's influence Billy gets on the force and becomes a fledgling detective himself. Then the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, and Billy finds himself in the Army. Again thanks to family influence, he gains a quick appointment to lieutenant and a supposedly cushy and safe post under his Uncle Ike, none other than Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, in London. Then Billy learns Uncle Ike, seemingly under the impression the young man has more police experience than he actually does, appoints him his investigator. His first mission: find a spy among the Norwegian officers planning an invasion to retake their country from the Nazis.

So begins “Billy Boyle” (2006), the first book in James R. Benn's series of World War II mysteries and a book that will make you want to seek out the others in the series.

The best thing about “Billy Boyle” is Billy Boyle, an intriguing and likable character who is unsure he actually possesses any of his father's investigative skills and who, expecting to sit out the war in relative safety, finds himself in an extremely dangerous situation, leading to his own personal invasion of Norway. If you were making a movie of this story 50 years ago, you would have wanted James Garner in the starring role.

Other characters in the novel, including British naval officer Daphne Seaton and Polish officer Piotr Kazimierz, prove interesting, as well. Both Daphne and Kaz are assigned to assist Billy in his investigation and prove invaluable, often doing better detective work than Billy himself.

The light tone with which Benn opens the novel soon turns dark, as both the war and the espionage plot (and later a murder) become deadly serious. Billy proves up to the task, although his abilities as a detective remain somewhat in doubt even as the story ends. The happy ending proves to be due as much luck as skill. So Billy still has something to prove, and to learn, in the other books in the series. These include “A Blind Goddess” and “Blue Madonna.“ ( )
  hardlyhardy | Jun 25, 2018 |
A good premise and interesting story. However, even though it is in first person, the story is driven too much by Billy Boyle's narrative. A little more action and dialog would have made it a stronger book. Still, a good debut. ( )
  MugsyNoir | Oct 27, 2017 |
Warning: this review contains spoilers


Billy Boyle is a cop from Boston. When the U.S. finally enters the Second World War, his family doesn't want him going overseas to be killed. So they pull a few strings, and his mum's second cousin (of sorts) gives him a job. The cousin? Dwight Eisenhower. The job? Working on Eisenhower's staff as an unofficial investigator. This first book in the series sees Billy investigating a murder at Beardsley Hall, where the Norwegian government is operating in exile.

Because this is a first book in series, there's a lot of groundwork to be done to establish the characters and introduce Billy's personality. Overall, he comes across as likeable, although it did get tiresome when Kaz, the Polish aristocrat who ends up helping with the investigation, keeps taking Billy's American slang literally, with allegedly humourous results. And Daphne, the English WREN who makes up the third of their three musketeers, feels ridiculous when she attempts to deduce the meaning of Billy's slang.

I also found it perhaps a touch "convenient" that Daphne got killed off in this book; a way to give Billy some trauma to carry through later books in the series, perhaps? Or perhaps I was dismayed because there weren't that many female characters to begin with and losing one of the few there were felt unfair.

Nevertheless, I would likely read at least one more book in the series, mainly for the setting, although I do also like the comic-book- or vintage-war-poster-style covers that Soho Press publishes them with. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Jun 23, 2017 |
  nancyread | Jul 7, 2016 |
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I know a hall whose doors face North on the Strand of Corpses far from the sun, poison drips from lights in the roof;  that building is woven of backs of snakes.  There heavy streams must be waded through by breakers of pledges and murderers. - The Edda:  The Deluding of Gylfi (Norse Mythology, 13th century A.D.)
For Debbie--Once a dream, come true.
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Prologue:  I typed the date under my name: Lieutenant William Boyle, August 6, 1942.
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"Billy Boyle, a young Irish-American cop from Boston has just made detective - with a little help from his cop relatives and friends - when World War II breaks out. His rabidly anti-English family calls on his mother's distant cousin, Mamie, married to a general, to wangle a staff job for him far from the fighting. But instead of a "safe, cushy" stateside assignment, he is ordered to London, still undergoing the Blitz. His "Uncle Ike" is Dwight D. Eisenhower, plucked from obscurity to command Army forces in Europe, and he wants Billy to be his personal investigator." "Billy, who had never left Boston before he enlisted and was sent to Officer Candidate School, is not sure how good a detective he really is. But when Eisenhower asks Billy to undertake this task, he dutifully sets off for Beardsley Hall, where the Norwegian government in exile, led by King Haakon, is in residence. Accompanied by an aristocratic Polish officer in exile and a beautiful British WREN, his mission is to catch a spy who may have been planted there." "A theft and two murders test Billy's investigative powers, as he comes to grips with the deadly demands of a war he never wanted any part of. To his own surprise - and that of others - Billy proves to be a better detective than any one expected."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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