If you love a great detective story that's beautifully written, full of suspense and keeps you guessing and turning pages, grab "Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery" right now. It cost over $9 the other day and I felt smug because I had gotten it free two weeks ago. But it's free again, for the moment. Grab it now, then come back and read the rest of this later.
If you are also intrigued by by what it must have been like in London during World War II, you have twice the reason to enlist in author James R. Benn's platoon of happy readers.
Billy is a young Boston flatfoot just promoted to detective when the draft catches up with him. His all-cop family calls in a favor from Uncle Ike--Dwight Eisenhower to the rest of us. The Boyles, ardent Irishmen with little love for the British, hope to wangle Billy a desk job in safe Washington DC for the duration. Billy gets the new job, but so does Ike: Commander of allied forces, headquartered in London. Just in time for the Nazi bombing Blitz, Billy arrives in wartime London, where the steadfast British stiffen their upper lips, race into the subways to ride out each bombing run, and emerge to heroically bury the dead and stack the bricks of bombed out homes neatly for rebuilding when the war is over.
Uncle Ike quickly puts Billy on the job to find a spy who is trying to undermine Allied plans to invade Nazi-occupied Norway. Billy, an untried detective, rises to the challenge and sweeps the reader along for the adventure. Especially satisfying are Benn's descriptions of London under the gun. This historical backdrop is accurate, and a surprise awaits readers who don't know just how tricky Winston Churchill could be in confounding the Nazi's wth amazing--and totally true--ploys.
You won't pay a dime for this book for now, but it'll still cost you. "Billy Boyle" is only the first of five books in the series, so far. The series takes Billy to all fronts--Africa, Ireland, Sicily-- all WWII detective stories by James. R Benn. I was captured by the freebie, marched as happy prisoner back to Amazon again and again, and bought the lot of them.
Benn and character Billy make a team who will have me running back if and when the sixth book in the series is ever written. I am hopeful, because there were strong hints in the fifth book that Billy would take me inside the Vatican.
In reviews stuck on the book's Amazon page, Publisher's Weekly sniffed that the book isn't "fully realized" and Booklist chides Benn for "wartime cliches." I humbly but rigorously disagree with both.