63. Billy Boyle - first in the Billy Boyle World War II Mystery series
by James R. Benn
Kindle book - 10
After having lost a family member in the last war, the Boyles of South Boston want to try and keep their detective policeman son, Billy safe in this second war. Luckily, they have a relative who might just be able to facilitate their wish - General Dwight David Eisenhower, a distant cousin to Billy, whom he has always called, 'Uncle.' Billy lands in London where he is given a job to find a German spy in the Allied headquarters. The story is based on a true one I had never heard of. When our story begins in 1942, Billy becomes involved in Operation Jupiter. From the author's note:
... an Allied deception campaign aimed at convincing the Germans that Norway was a likely invasion target. Eisenhower exploited Operation Jupiter fully, even to the extent of issuing winter-weather gear to troops in England who were actually about to depart for the invasion of North Africa. His desire to make Norway into one big prisoner-of-war camp was fulfilled. ... Over 375,000 German soldiers, sailors, and airmen sat idle in Norway by the end of World War II.Billy is charged to find the spy who could sabotage this whole operation.
The book has the rare sense of being written when it happened rather than a book written now about that time. It felt authentic. Nothing jarred me into thinking, oh, that wasn't said or done in those days. I am always interested in different slants on the past; facets I haven't thought much about. And this book offers a new one. A Boston Irish-American cop goes to war, and must work alongside the despised English. Billy's Uncle Dan:
Like any good IRA man, he hated the English. It had galled him to fight on the same side as the English in his war, and he didn't want me to do the same in mine.But Billy does work alongside the English, and comes to care deeply for them. The book is really a story of Billy's coming of age. By the end of the book he has matured, and realizes there is a lot more gray in the world than just black and white. There is some looking back at his family life, at his father's work as a police detective. The characters are all fully-drawn, interesting people whose lives we get to glimpse as they do their important work. I learned so much about the Norway situation, the work that women did in the War, the relationship between the English and the Americans. There was a little bit of the feeling of the television series, Foyle's War, which I loved.
I so enjoyed Billy Boyle, the book and the character. Being told from his point of view made him seem so real. The reader sees his foibles and his strengths. The book has humor and it has sadness. I am so happy there are more books in the series, and I've already bought the second one.