Books for Veteran’s Day: “The Devouring” is the 12th riveting and cinematic Billy Boyle WWII mystery by James Benn
A Tribute to American and allied service men and women. Veteran's Day November 2017
By Don Church & Tony Schillaci, OutNTravelin and Critics On The Aisle
James Benn is a master of mystery novels, all of which include well-researched historic fact to greatly heighten the plausibility of every dangerous twist and turn in his well-crafted plots.
In his latest exciting book, The Devouring, Benn exposes the shocking truth about Swiss greed and deadly complicity, on every level, with the Nazis during WWII. The essence of the story is about the US and Swiss governments embarking on diplomatic discussions about the Safehaven Protocols, especially the war materials supplied by Switzerland to the Nazis regime and plans to prevent them from using tons of looted gold and other valuables after the war.
With the talks about to begin, and the Gestapo and its undercover agents ever present, the OSS (now the CIA) want Billy Boyle and his teammate, Kaz, to protect pro-allied Swiss and US assets. It is another action-packed, page-turner as are the other eleven Billy Boyle tales of WWII.
Benn’s skillful blend of fictional characters with real-life heroes such as General Eisenhower and PT-boat Lieutenant JFK, - and a few villains - add greatly to the popularity of this acclaimed mystery series. Each of the twelve books has a stand-alone plot and can be read in any sequence.
A retired director of the Godfrey Memorial Library in Connecticut, Benn didn’t begin writing until he turned 50. A reader of history and mystery, and his personal travels and extensive research, made him aware of the ordinary men and women who heroically saved lives, and many who lost their own, on the battlefield and behind enemy lines.
Benn says, “The reviews and feedback tell me that the [WW II] stories resonate with so many people. I have so many requests from people who want me to talk to their fathers or spouses – ‘the guys who were there.’ When I do meet with them they are usually reluctant to talk about their war experiences. Some have never discussed the war before with anyone. They’ll tell me about all the fun stuff, but then when they are comfortable talking with me they get into the pain and suffering and killing.
“I was fortunate to have talked at length with 92-year-old Ted Cummings, who gave me a lot of insight for book number 10, “The White Ghost,” and the war in the Pacific. Sadly, he died a few days after the book launch. It’s the veterans like him who contribute realism to the Billy Boyle stories.”
The 12 highly readable Billy Boyle WWII books are also as cinematic as a film. Here’s a brief synopsis of each of the books:
Book 1: BILLY BOYLE: A twenty-two-year-old Irish-American police detective signs up and is assigned as an ‘unofficial’ investigator in the European Theater of War. He is dispatched to the Norwegian government in exile. Operation Jupiter, the impending invasion of Norway, is being planned, but it is feared that there is a German spy among the Norwegians.
Book 2: THE FIRST WAVE: Boyle lands in Algeria during the Allied invasion. His mission is a minefield of obstacles to help arrange the surrender of the Vichy French forces.
Book 3: BLOOD ALONE: Boyle enters Sicily in advance of the Allied invasion, but ends up in a field hospital with a concussion and doesn't know who he is or what his mission is.
Book 4: EVIL FOR EVIL: Rifles and ammunition have been stolen from an army base in Ireland. Fearing a German-sponsored IRA uprising, Gen. Eisenhower, sends him to recover the weapons.
Book 5: RAG AND BONE: Gen. Eisenhower sends Boyle to investigate the murder of a Russian security officer in the buildup to D-Day. Billy recognizes that this is a politically charged case.
Book 6: A MORTAL TERROR: Billy Boyle is sent to Caserta, Italy, to investigate the murders of two American officers - the MOs are different and no connection to each other, but there is one frightening link.
Book 7: DEATH’S DOOR: An American monsignor with high-level political contacts is found murdered an entrance to St Peter’s Basilica. Boyle first must be smuggled into Rome, avoiding the Gestapo and Allied bombs, and navigate Vatican politics and personalities—some are pro-Allied, others pro-Nazi.
Book 8: A BLIND GODDESS: Publishers Weekly, Starred Review: “Pervasive racism in the U.S. Army during WWII frames Benn’s excellent eighth Billy Boyle whodunit...The superior plot and thoughtful presentation of institutional racism directed against American soldiers about to risk their lives for their country make this one of Benn’s best.”
Book 9: THE REST IS SILENCE: An unidentified corpse washes up on a Devonshire beach, home to Operation Tiger, the top-secret rehearsal for the approaching D-Day. When Billy is wrapping the case, he finds hundreds more bodies during a D-Day rehearsal.
Book 10: THE WHITE GHOST: During the Pacific war, Boyle investigates a murder of a native intelligence operative whom Lt. Jack Kennedy discovered on an island. It hasn’t yet been decided whether have him court-martialed for losing the boat, and the Kennedy clan doesn’t want a murder charge hanging over his head. Billy must sort through a web of motives and identities, even as combat rages around him.
Book 11: BLUE MADONNA: Boyle is convicted on questionable charges of black market dealings, but is offered a break if he agrees go behind enemy lines to investigate murders at an Allies’ safe house in France. Parachuted in just before the Normandy invasion, has little time to find the killer and escape back to England before June 6, 1944.
Book 12: THE DEVOURING: (See our synopsis in the above paragraphs one and two.)
The New York Times Book Review calls Benn’s novels “Spirited wartime storytelling.”
The complete collection of 11 Billy Boyle books are available in hard cover and paperback through Soho Crime at 40% off the retail price. https://sohopress.com/series/the-billy-boyle-wwii-mysteries/. Single copies of each book can also be ordered online or in local bookstores. Or, use your library card to read these fascinating WWII mystery novels that honor our men and women vets.