Death's Door (Billy Boyle World War II Mystery Series #7)

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Death's Door (Billy Boyle World War II Mystery Series #7)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A special mission takes Lt. Billy Boyle to German-occupied Rome disguised as an Irish priest in Benn’s intriguing seventh WWII mystery (after 2011’s A Mortal Terror). Billy must find out who stabbed Fr. Edward Corrigan in neutral Vatican City by the entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica known as Death’s Door. Since the priest’s cousin was a childhood buddy of FDR, solving his murder has the highest priority. Getting through German lines to reach the Vatican is no mean feat, and on arrival, Billy discovers that the authorities have already pinned the killing on a Jewish refugee found with blood on his coat. In addition, Billy has a more personal mission to consider—whether to try to rescue his lover, British spy Diana Seaton, who’s a prisoner of the Gestapo in a Roman prison. Some developments may be a bit coincidental, but Benn’s nuanced portrayal of Vatican politics will keep readers turning the pages. (Sept.)
Library Journal
This seventh mystery in Benn's historical series (after A Mortal Terror) finds Billy Boyle, a Boston police detective turned Allied intelligence agent, awaiting orders in southern Italy early in 1944. He and Kaz, his Polish partner, are ordered to Rome to investigate the death of an American monsignor in the neutral Vatican. Boyle also has an ulterior motive in that the woman he loves has been captured by the Nazis and is being held in Rome. Disguised as priests, the two agents make their way to Rome and soon find that the Vatican is full of escaped POWs and other refugees from the German occupation. Everyone has an agenda, and motives are hidden under layers of piety and diplomacy. VERDICT Benn has obviously done his research; the authentic details of Roman life during wartime add to the tension without overloading the reader. A couple of cameos by real historical figures also are handled well. In addition to series fans, this will appeal to readers who enjoy mysteries and thrillers with a dramatic setting such as the Second World War. [See Prepub Alert, 7/5/12.]—Dan Forrest, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green
Kirkus Reviews
In the depths of World War II, Lt. Billy Boyle (A Mortal Terror, 2011, etc.) is tasked with solving the murder of an American priest in German-occupied Rome. Who tasks him? His Uncle Ike, of course: Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower. The supreme allied commander apparently has an endless trove of thorny missions set aside for his nephew, all of which turn out to be survival tests. In Vatican City, Monsignor Edward Corrigan has been found stabbed to death, and FDR, whose close friend he was, wants an all-out investigation. So Roosevelt leans on Eisenhower, who leans on Billy. Though a homicide investigation is not exactly foreign territory to an ex–Boston cop, this latest assignment comes Billy's way at a particularly complicated time. British spy Diana Seaton, the love of his life, has been taken by the Gestapo. Given their famously untender mercies, Billy isn't sure that he should hope Diana's alive, but he's learned that she is, jailed somewhere in Rome. Monsignor Corrigan's murderer is also somewhere in Rome. The upside is that now, Billy too has been deployed where the action is. The downside is how quickly he finds himself a pawn in a deadly geopolitical chess game. Still, Billy knows that if a pawn plods straight ahead long enough to reach the last rank, "it can be anything it wants." The gobs of back story have the unfortunate effect of nudging charming Billy off center stage. A shame.
From the Publisher
"Benn's nuanced portrayal of Vatican politics will keep readers turning the pages."Publishers Weekly

"Consistently entertaining."WWII Magazine

"Benn has obviously done his research.... In addition to series fans, this will appeal to readers who enjoy mysteries and thrillers with a dramatic setting such as the Second World War."Library Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616951856
  • Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/4/2012
  • Series: Billy Boyle World War II Mystery Series , #7
  • Pages: 350
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 21, 2014

    Despite a couple of typos and an error, it is a great read. I d

    Despite a couple of typos and an error, it is a great read. I don't offer a synopsis which some misconstrue as a review often giving away too much and detracting from potential readers enjoyment (maybe would be authors?). I simply state that I accidentally was introduced to the first in the series not long ago and wound up getting all in print to date plus have just pre-ordered the next. Enjoy!

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  • Posted May 2, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Most Excellent!

    The Billy Boyle World War II Mystery Series takes a green Irish copper detective and sets him in World War II. Even though these are novels of fiction the author is true to the events and the major campaigns, often going into details of the actions while justice is sought in cases of murder. This is the seventh of eight books and is set in the Vatican. It brings to light the delicate balance that had to be maintained by the administration of the Holy See to remain neutral yet expose the evil that was going on in eastern Europe. But don't take my word for it, check it out yourself.

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  • Posted April 19, 2013

    Latest adventure not up to par

    I'm a Billy fan but this chapter seemed to drag on forever, never hooking my interest like the others. I fell asleep while reading this book, actually, three or four times. The history of the Vatican seems a bit dodgy, as well. The story line was filled with potential but the constant references back to previous books and the adolescent chatter coming from Billy suggests he isn't really learning much from his experiences and tribulations. His heroic stature fades a bit as he is overwhelmed by other characters who are far more interesting than this Boston cop who still thinks like a 20 year old rookie. However, to keep up with the ongoing series you probably need to read it since Benn writes in a manner that will totally lose you if you haven't read the earlier books. If the next volume isn't better than this one, it will be my last.

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  • Posted February 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    There are a couple of mysteries which this novel seems to solve.

    There are a couple of mysteries which this novel seems to solve. Primarily, of course, Billy Boyle, a Boston detective on the staff of “Uncle” Ike (Dwight D. Eisenhower, that is) during World War II, is sent to occupied Rome to find the murderer of an American Monsignor at the Vatican. However, his arrival at the Holy See sets the stage for the author to provide substantial background on the role of various clergy and the Pope on the question of Nazi brutality and the holocaust. Pope Pius XII was much criticized for his silence on the matter during and after the conflict, but the author shows that the reason was to maintain “strict neutrality,” giving the German occupiers no reason to invade the Vatican and take the Pope to Germany “for protection.” The novel provides numerous examples of refugees and escaped POWs being shielded in the Vatican and safe houses throughout Rome.

    A subplot involves Billy’s attempt to save his girlfriend, Diana, from a German prison, despite orders to solve the murder and not get involved in any way in her rescue. More detail in the book is, however, spent on retrieving Diana from her cell than in identifying the killer. Although an occasional reference is made to Billy’s investigation, until the last few pages name the murderer, almost as an afterthought.

    Be that as it may, “Death’s Door” is a welcome addition to the fine Billy Boyle World War II Mystery series, and can be read two ways: as a crime novel, or as a detailed historical picture of a controversial sidelight of the war period. The author does an excellent job of describing the effect of the war and German occupation on Italians, Rome, the Vatican and the clergy, and provides a touching portrait of the various characters. With Rome about to be retaken by the Allies as they break through the Anzio bottleneck, we can, and do, look forward to the next chapter.

    Recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2013

    Very good

    This is the seventh book in Benn's Billy Boyle series and it was just as good a read as the first six. Death's Door takes us to Vatican City where the Pope is doing a balancing act between helping Jews and escaped POWs and maintaining the Vatican's neutrality. The history is always well researched in Benn's books and this one was no exception.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2012

    Another great read

    Fantastic approach to sharing the other stories of WWII. I really enjoyed the stories taking place in the Vatican and it is a good reminder that the church isn't any different than the rest of society.

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