Billy Boyle – James R. Benn

Billy Boyle comes from an Irish American Boston family. With a father in the police force, Billy follows that career choice, only for Pearl Harbor to mess up his (relatively) safe life. Well utilized family connections result in the young man’s posting to the UK as part of Eisenhower’s extended staff. From there, an assignment to utilize his police experience at an English country house where the Allies and some Norwegian expats, including the king, are working to overthrow the Nazi regime. Boyle’s investigation soon becomes much more deadly than anything he’s faced before his deployment overseas.

The prose, told from Boyle’s perspective, fairly rattles along, managing to sprinkle several cultural clash moments into the more serious business of murder and espionage. While that character is reasonably well drawn, the supporting cast – perhaps inevitably – are sourced from cardboard. However, Britain in that time of the war is a good backdrop, nicely described, and the plot doesn’t overextend itself.

In short, it’s a pleasant adventure with the main attraction being the main character. The mix of military history and detective novel is fresh and enticing. If there’s something missing it’s the mysterious star quality that the writing just doesn’t have. There are sharply observed moments about war, death, and the futility of it all. But somehow or other, they all too quickly fade and we are back in the mundane and the ordinary. Perhaps that’s the point.

This is a well loved series, though right now I’m unsure about whether I’ll go any further with it. Other readers in the family – Hello Lori! – were much more enthusiastic. So, do try it out for yourself.