Thursday, September 30, 2010

Finished: "Billy Boyle" by James R. Benn

Finished: Billy Boyle by James R. Benn, 2006, 9781569474334.

The first Boyle novel. Boyle is flown over to England to join Ike's staff. Getting flown over requires AAA travel priority - that is a big deal. Boyle meets his boss, Major Harding, and is introduced to Brit soldier Daphne and Kaz, a Polack assigned to headquarters as an interpreter. Boyle learns he is to help find a German spy in the free Norwegian forces. Boyle gets boner for Daphne who is dating Kaz. Boyle and the rest travel North. Boyle meets Norwegians. Boyle's boner deflates. One of King Haakon's counselors is murdered and Boyle assigned the investigation.

Boyle is not an experienced investigator and feels like a fraud. Much is made of Boyle's Boston Police advancement due to nepotism and graft rather than skills and competence. Boyle meets Daphne' sister, Diana. Boyle's boner returns. Boyle keeps investigating and asking questions that anger higher ranking officers. Boyle's willingness to ask rude questions, cop experience, and lessons from his cop father carry him through after all.

Boyle figures things out but Daphne is killed and Kaz injured in a sabotage bombing by the killer. Boyle fudges his orders and travels to Scotland, and then Norway, to follow the Norwegian killer on a mission into Norway. Boyle also discovers the spy. Everything turns out okay in the end - except for all the dead people.

1. I liked it but the trip to Norway felt a little forced. I thought things would get wrapped up in England.
2. Benn does a good job in this series in highlighting little known stories about the war. I read and heard about Norway during the war when I took a class with Thorstensson. Reading about it again was interesting. I never did get around to watching The Last Lieutenant.
3. Anachronism. A character mentions a relative in Dachau. Dachau was opened in '33 but would Boyle - or most anyone - recognize what it meant? Does it matter? Am I nitpicking?
4. Much more information about Boyle's family in this one. Benn lets that stuff drop to the side in later novels. More detail on his detective father and his father's corruption.
5. Several mentions were made of Boyle's younger brother. I assume Benn will have him appear in a later novel. Actually, I assume Benn will have him appear and then have him killed off.

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