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The First Wave (Billy Boyle World War II Mystery Series #2)

The First Wave (Billy Boyle World War II Mystery Series #2)

4.1 281
by James R. Benn

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Praise for the Billy Boyle series:

“A meaty, old-fashioned and thoroughly enjoyable tale of WWII-era murder and espionage.”—The Seattle Times

“The World War II atmosphere and history are expertly handled.”—Denver Post

“Great fun. Benn knows his war history. . . . The novel introduces a


Praise for the Billy Boyle series:

“A meaty, old-fashioned and thoroughly enjoyable tale of WWII-era murder and espionage.”—The Seattle Times

“The World War II atmosphere and history are expertly handled.”—Denver Post

“Great fun. Benn knows his war history. . . . The novel introduces a batch of intriguing characters who seem destined to make another appearance.”—The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

“A memorable debut.”—BookPage

“A must for history buffs and mystery fans.”—Connecticut Post

“If you enjoy World War II mysteries . . . you’ll love this book. . . . One of the best books I’ve read this year.”—Mystery Scene

“Benn crafts a crackling good adventure, with much flavorsome period color.”—Kirkus Reviews

“I’ll look for another book about Billy Boyle, with pleasure.”—Deadly Pleasures

Lieutenant Billy Boyle reluctantly accompanies Major Samuel Harding, his boss, in the first boat to land on the shores of Algeria during the Allied invasion. Their task is to arrange the surrender of the Vichy French forces. But there is dissension between the regular army, the local militia, and De Gaulle’s Free French. American black marketeers in league with the enemy divert medical supplies to the Casbah, leading to multiple murders that Billy must solve while trying to rescue the girl he loves, a captured British spy.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In Benn's high-spirited second WWII mystery (after 2006's Billy Boyle), tough, earthy Boston cop turned army lieutenant Boyle hunkers down in a landing craft during the gripping first-wave attack to liberate Algeria in 1942. Once ashore, Boyle sets out on an intelligence mission to sort out the power struggle among Vichy French traitors, free French forces and German occupiers. Boyle is soon taken into custody and catches a glimpse of his ex-girlfriend Diana, a British spy on a similar mission. He returns to friendly territory in time to find that a sergeant's throat has been cut and vital morphine and penicillin supplies stolen. The enormous multinational cast makes it hard to determine a likely suspect, especially once Boyle uncovers a drug-smuggling network, American officers running poker parties and further murders of enlisted men, all somehow tied to a secret coded notebook. Historical figures like Adm. Jean Darlan give this lively story a bit of period flair. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Take a young Irish cop. Turn him into a lieutenant on Eisenhower's personal staff-one charged with being "Ike's investigator." Set him ashore on the coast of French North Africa along with the first wave of invading American troops. And watch the mayhem, mystery, and murder that are bound to follow. Corrupt Vichy French officers steal a shipment of American penicillin, killing a supply sergeant in the process. Benn follows up his first World War II mystery (Billy Boyle) with another danger-filled episode and delivers a cross-genre tale that is at once spy story, soldier story, and hard-Boyled detective. Bullets, babes, and bombs give Billy Boyle a bad time before he solves the case, but you'll have a good time reading about it. Highly recommended for all mystery collections.
—Ken St. Andre

Kirkus Reviews
WWII soldier Billy Boyle turns sleuth again to solve a string of murders in north Africa. As American forces prepare to liberate Algeria in late 1942, jaunty narrator Boyle, now a lieutenant, is working as an aide to gruff Major Samuel Harding. The murky political allegiances of the Vichy government make the duo temporary prisoners of the Germans. In his previous adventure (Billy Boyle, 2006), Boyle, fresh from walking a beat as a Beantown cop, threw a series of incomplete passes at British officer Daphne Seaton, who was later killed. Now his significant other is Daphne's sister Diana, a British spy he sees in Algeria for just an instant. Ebullient Polish native Piotr Augustus Kazimierz, aka Kaz, makes a brash return as a sidekick who's gravely injured by Boyle's daring escape plan. The game changes radically when French lieutenant Georges Dupree's kid brother Jerome is murdered. The prime suspect is Vichy Captain Villard, who earlier impugned the elder Dupree's loyalty and integrity. Boyle is tasked with solving the murder. His probe combines conventional sleuthing and crackerjack adventure as the body count rises-the American Sergeant Joe Casselli, for starters-and the clock runs down on Boyle's apparently imprisoned ladylove Diana. Benn's wide-eyed hero retains his appealing earnestness and infectious spirit, and his escapade is refreshingly free of camp.
From the Publisher
Praise for The First Wave

"Another rousing adventure . . . Once again the period details are spot-on and Billy, who doesn't pretend to be anything but what he is, continues to make a thoroughly engaging detective."
—The Denver Post

“What a great read, full of action, humor and heart . . . Equal parts spy thriller, war story and murder mystery, with a dollop of romance that’s never sweet, this is just a terrific book. More please!”
—Louise Penny

“A rattling good read.”
—Rhys Bowen

“A solid follow up to Benn’s first novel . . . [I] look forward to his next.”
—Robert B. Parker

“Benn follows up his first World War II mystery (Billy Boyle) with another danger-filled episode and delivers a cross-genre tale that is at once spy story, soldier story, and hard-Boyled detective.”
Library Journal, Starred Review

“Certain to appeal to WWII fiction fans.”

“Part Indiana Jones derring-do and part grown-up adventure novel with spies, black marketers, loyal and dastardly French, and the reliably evil Nazis. If you like World War II historical crime novels, you’ll love this one.”
Mystery Scene

Product Details

Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
Billy Boyle World War II Mystery Series , #2
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Penguin Random House Publisher Services
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Read an Excerpt


A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery
By James R. Ben

Soho Press, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 James R. Benn
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-56947-471-6

Chapter One

Off the coast of French North Africa 8 November 1942

It was dark, and I was at sea, hunkered down in a flat-bottomed landing craft, slamming through four-foot swells and chugging noisily toward shore, leaving the relative safety of our troop transport behind. One hard mile out, me and twenty other guys, all sweating, scared, and slipping on the wet deck every time the landing craft crested another wave, rode on air for a split second, and then fell from under us. Each time it felt like hitting concrete from two stories up and each time I prayed it wouldn't happen again. No one was listening. The diesel fumes from the engine mixed with the smell of vomit and salt water and fear, giving off a new odor that wrapped itself around me, hooked into my nostrils, and wouldn't let go.

The guy next to me grabbed my arm. His eyes were wide as they darted back and forth, searching for something that wasn't there, like a really good place to hide. His face was drained of color and I could barely hear him above the sound of the engine and the smashing waves.

"Are we almost there, Lieutenant?"

"We'll know when they start shooting at us," I said.

He looked disappointed at my answer, but I had no idea how close we were and I wasn't about to stick my head up to look. I didn't know if the Vichy French were going to put up a fight when we landed or kiss us on both cheeks. Either way, I planned to keep a low profile.

The next wave wasn't as bad as the others, and I guessed that meant we were getting nearer the shore. Our landing area was designated Beer Green, sixteen miles west of Algiers, capital of Algeria, the French colony garrisoned by the Vichy French. I thought it was funny that after being in this war almost a year, the first time we invade somebody it's the French. Not the Nazis, not Mussolini and his Fascists, but the so-called Vichy French. After the Germans steam-rollered into Paris, they took all the good parts of France for themselves and let some tame Frenchmen work out of a little town in the south, governing a sliver of France and most of her colonies. Vichy, famous for not much more than bottled water before, now stood for a divided France. Our brass hoped that the French soldiers in Algieria would see us as their American buddies come to help them liberate France from the Germans. But there was a distinct possibility that since we were secretly landing on their turf in the middle of the night, loaded for bear and backed up by a naval armada, they might think we were liberating Algeria from them. Which was sort of the truth, since they were between us and the Germans in North Africa, and sooner or later we were going to have to mix it up with Rommel and his Afrika Korps.

"Boyle! Are the motorcycles still secure?" the voice of Major Samuel Harding barked in my ear.

"Yes sir!" I was standing next to two U.S. Army Harley-Davidson motorcycles, lashed to the deck. They were for Harding and me. Not only did we have to survive the landing, we had to get these beasts up over the beach and then take them for a joy ride, smack in the middle of the invasion. The guys in the landing craft were from the 168th Combat Team, and their job was to help us get the bikes and ourselves safely ashore, then wave goodbye as we took off into the night on a predawn secret mission. So after landing in North Africa, with the first wave of the first invasion of the war, if I survived, I'd be celebrating my twenty-fourth birthday on a motorcycle ride from hell. Not for the first time, I wondered how a nice Irish kid from Boston like me had gotten himself into this situation.

"Okay, men, listen up!" Harding bellowed over the sounds of the engine and the surf. Bellowing was Harding's normal tone of voice. He was regular Army, in for the long haul. I was ... well, I wasn't.

"I know you've been wondering why you're baby-sitting a couple of staff officers. We're about to hit the beach so now I can tell you." Harding paused and looked at the men. He stood straight, somehow immune to the rocking of the craft, displaying no sign of a normal sense of self-preservation. The rest of us were hunched over, to present less of a target. Harding seemed like he didn't give a damn. A couple of guys straightened up and looked around nervously. When no one got his head blown off, a few more did the same. I made believe I was checking the bikes and stayed low.

"We're landing near Cape Sidi Ferruch," he went on. "The French have a fortified battery at the tip of the cape, directly overlooking our landing beaches. Big 155mm artillery pieces, with new infrared thermal detectors and range finders. If the French government issues orders to resist us, we have to neutralize their artillery before they blow our ships out of the water. Lieutenant Boyle and I will make contact with friendly French officers to ensure that these guns are not used against us. Your job is to get us and the motorcycles off the beach and up to the main road. Do that and we'll do the rest. Understood?"

Pinpoints of light arced up from the beach and then exploded brightly above us, just like fireworks. Night turned to day as parachute flares floated lazily downward, light dancing on the waves and bathing us in a white, ghostly illumination. Before anyone could say a thing, there was a sound like distant thunder. Then bright flashes, reflected off the low, dark clouds. Something told me it wasn't weather.

The major reacted first. "Incoming!" Harding yelled, and then he wasn't standing so straight. We ducked as a shrieking sound split the sky and exploded to our right, sending up a column of water that drenched us on its way down. I wiped seawater off my face and looked toward the shore. Half a dozen spotlights were playing over the water, picking up landing craft as they slowly made their way to Beer Green. Flashes lit the early morning darkness from beyond the searchlights, and more shells whistled toward us. I tried to make myself small and squeezed my eyes shut, as if that might make everything go away. There were explosions all around us. Men screamed, fear making their voices unrecognizable. We rode through near misses that spewed so much seawater into the craft I wondered if we'd sink before we hit land.

Harding tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to our rear, a broad smile on his face. He was calm, really enjoying all this, like a kid at a carnival. I turned and looked back. Two destroyers were slicing across our wakes, their five-inch guns opening up on those searchlights. The noise didn't seem so bad when it was our guys dishing it out. When the first searchlight was hit and went dark, GIs, who had been screaming seconds earlier, cheered. The artillery fire from shore lessened as the destroyers kept up their barrage, and within minutes the searchlights were gone. Everyone was whooping and yelling, trying to forget the rush of fear that had gripped them moments earlier.

"Was that the big guns you were talking about, Major?" The white-faced GI who had wanted to know if we were there yet ignored me this time and went direct to Harding with his question. Smart guy.

"No, Private," Harding answered. "Those were just French 75s. Good field pieces, but popguns compared to their emplaced 155mm guns. Nothing to worry about."

"Yessir," the private said, some color returning to his face. I felt sorry for him, so I didn't point out that a 75mm shell exploding in our landing craft would indeed be something to worry about. No sense upsetting the help.

"Get ready!" Harding yelled. I untied the straps that held the motorcycles in place. As instructed, four GIs grabbed each bike, two on a side. I looked up. We were almost there. I could see the surf breaking on the beach. Other landing craft had already made it to shore. A few isolated shots were fired up and down the beach, sporadically, as if someone was target shooting. Everything seemed to slow down, and I could hear my heart pounding in my chest. My legs felt wobbly. I didn't know if I could make it out of the craft. I knew I didn't want to be here. I just wanted to be back in Boston, on the police force with my Dad and uncles, enjoying my promotion to detective. It had become effective December 1, 1941. I was in clover for a week, then the goddamn Japs had to go and bomb Pearl Harbor. Everything changed, and eleven months later, here I was in the middle of the night with a gungho major, playing secret agent, hoping some Frenchie didn't put a bullet in my skull before I gave the Germans and Italians their chance.

You've got no one to blame but yourself, Billy Boyle, I thought as the landing craft hit the shore with a jolting crunch. The ramp dropped and we were greeted by the sight of white churning foam on a gravel beach, and complete darkness beyond.

"We're here," I said to the talkative private.

"Gee, thanks, Lieutenant," he said as he pushed one of the Harleys into the surf. I followed him onto the shore of the African continent, an unwilling, wet, and shivering soldier in the vanguard of an invading army, longing for home and for Diana. Wondering where she was, and if she were alive or dead.

Chapter Two

There were no bullets or kisses waiting for us on the Beer Green beach, both of which suited me fine. The GIs struggled in the soft sand with the big Harleys as the first faint glow of false dawn drifted up over the low rolling hills ahead of us. Dunes rose up from the beach, and for every three steps forward we took one back, as we struggled with heavy loads in the yielding white sands.

"Come on, men!" Harding yelled, "Put some muscle into it!"

He was rewarded with grunts and groans and a dirty look or two from the GIs as they pushed and nearly carried the motorcycles through the dunes. Harding was anxious and when he was worried, he yelled. I knew we didn't have much time to make contact with the French officer who was supposed to be waiting to surrender the fort and join up with us. If we didn't get there before he received direct orders from Algiers to resist the invasion, he might change his mind. That would be curtains for a lot of guys following the first wave, especially at full light. Even in the dark, those new thermal detectors could target a blacked-out troop transport and send a thousand soldiers and sailors to the bottom of the Mediterranean.

Harding got to the crest of the next dune and signaled everyone to halt. He knelt and scanned the horizon. I hustled up next to him and looked around. It was still pretty dark, but I could see that the sand dunes gave way ahead to scrub-pine woods that rose gradually from the beach.

"What is it, Major?"

"Shhh!" Harding swiveled his head, listening, then pointed to the left. I didn't hear a thing.

"Truck," he said. Then I heard it. The distant sound of an engine and of heavy tires on a gravel road. "Running with no lights."

The sound came closer, and rose as the truck passed in front of us. I could see a dark shape moving through the pines on the low ridgeline dead ahead.

"The coast road." Harding smiled. I realized that in the five months I had known him, I had never seen Harding smile this much. He looked so natural behind a desk, frowning, that I had never thought about him as a combat soldier. He gave a hand signal for the GIs to move forward, as if he'd been longing for this moment.

I put on my goggles and checked the safety on my .45 caliber Thompson submachine gun. Harding had an old .30 caliber Springfield M1903 bolt-action rifle. He said he preferred 'aimed fire' to automatic weapons. Me, I preferred to put a twenty-round clip from a Tommy gun between Mrs. Boyle's boy and anyone looking for trouble.

Harding revved his bike and glanced at me. I nodded, and played with the throttle of my Harley just to hear that rumble. It felt as if I were home, on motorcycle patrol for the Boston PD. We took off, spitting gravel and dust, toward Cape Sidi Ferruch. Harding was in the lead. I dropped back a bit and rode in the middle of the road, looking back as often as I could to see if anyone was following us. There was only the wind, dancing the dust our bikes kicked up, swirling it around in sudden clouds before it settled down again, unimpressed with our mission.

I don't know what I expected North Africa to look like. I'd imagined lots of sand, and there was plenty of that. But as we followed the road along the coast the land became greener and we passed cultivated fields. We sped through a small village: whitewashed buildings and tall trees lining the road. The houses were thick-walled, with rounded corners and smooth surfaces. Not a clapboard wood frame house in sight. I was a long way from South Boston.

A curve appeared down the road and I watched Harding slow and lean into it, his right foot out as if to hold up the weight of the bike. Then he straightened and gave it full throttle. The man could ride. I remembered a picture of my Uncle Frank sitting on his 1912 Harley, a rookie cop in Southie with his life ahead of him, a big grin plastered over his face, his gloved hands gripping the handlebars. My uncle never came home from the trenches of the First World War. I was glad my Dad and my Uncle Dan didn't know about this Harley ride. Thinking about them and how far apart we actually were made me feel lonely. I turned my head again. The road behind me was empty.

I tried to stop thinking of home. I had to notice everything around me, as if I were following a shooter up the rear stairway of a tenement with no backup. This was Indian country, after all. There were vineyards all around now, rows and rows of neatly planted grapevines, their wooden stakes looking like grave markers casting their shadows downhill as the sun rose. The ground sloped toward the sea on my right but there were rolling hills on the other side. The air was full of the ripe smell of grapes. Algeria didn't look anything like what I'd imagined. War sure is educational.

As we passed some buildings, I saw a few heads peek out of windows and doors and wondered what the locals were thinking. It might not make a whole lot of difference to them whether the French, Germans, Italians, or Americans ran the place. Whoever it was, they'd end up with the same short end of the stick. We might come as liberators, but we weren't planning to give the country back to the original owners.

Harding slowed as we came to a crossroad, and leaned hard right. I followed. We had been running without lights, but now he turned his on and rode just fast enough to control the bike. Ahead, car lights flashed on and off, twice. Harding signaled back, like in the movies.

A young French lieutenant jumped out of the car and waved his arms. "Bienvenu, mes amis Américains!" he welcomed us. He grabbed Harding's hand and pumped it like a politician on St. Paddy's Day, then planted a smack on both his cheeks. I swung my Thompson around and casually held it pointed at the car. There might be surprises inside, or maybe I'd have to defend myself if he tried to kiss me. He jabbered some more French I didn't understand, and then Harding replied slowly enough that I could pick out a few words. I had booked enough Canucks back in my Boston cop days to know a bit of the lingo.

"Where is Colonel Baril? Did he send you?" Harding had asked.

"Oui, oui," the lieutenant answered and then added, in pretty good English, "I will take you to him. You are expected, Major Harding. My name is Georges Dupree, and I am at your service."

"Very well, Lieutenant," Harding answered. "This is my aide, Lieutenant William Boyle."

"Welcome to Algeria, Lieutenant Boyle." He made a slight, graceful bow.

"Call me Billy. Everyone does." I gave him my best Billy boy-o, happy-go-lucky smile.

Harding grimaced and shook his head. Dupree looked at Harding, then back at me. He had thick, wavy black hair slicked back, big dark eyes and a thin Ronald Colman mustache. Not my style, but it looked good on him.

"Everyone? We shall see."

He got into the car, turned it around, and set off. We followed, and within minutes were at the gate of the fort. It looked old and worn, as if it had been there since the days of the Barbary pirates. The outer ring was a mud-brick wall with large double wooden doors that swung open as the car approached. One of our General Lee tanks could've plowed right through it.


Excerpted from THE FIRST WAVE by James R. Ben Copyright © 2007 by James R. Benn. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

James R. Benn is the author of the Billy Boyle World War II mysteries. The debut, Billy Boyle, was named one of five top mysteries of 2006 by Book Sense and was a Dilys Award nominee. A Blind Goddess was longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and The Rest Is Silence was a Barry Award nominee. A librarian for many years, Benn lives in Connecticut with his wife, Deborah Mandel.

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First Wave (Billy Boyle World War II Mystery Series #2) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 281 reviews.
Zenbot More than 1 year ago
Unlike the first novel, this one starts a little slower. Of course this is partly due to Benn recounting events in the first novel and establishing background for those who did not read the first book. I was a good 60 pages into it wondering if this was going to be a mystery novel or an adventure story. In all honesty, either would have been fine with me because I really like the way Benn handles the characters and writing. But, the mystery does finally kick in and this one is a fairly straight forward whodunit. Though not the most difficult mystery to figure out, unlike the first one in my opinion, there is a lot of interesting WWII history at play here. Benn has a real knack for honing in on the lesser known aspects of WWII and making them come to life. There is a lot of history surrounding the Nurses Corp and the advent of penicillin in this one that is sure to keep you reading. If you liked the first novel, or are just a fan of WWII novels or mystery novels in general, this is a good read. Benn really does manage to write exciting stories even if the mystery aspect doesn't really take root till a third of the way into the book.
JewelDragon More than 1 year ago
This is a book I would NEVER have chosen. I was surprised because I LIKED it. The characters are three dimensional and the story line is well done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I downloaded Billy Boyle for free and it was plenty good enough that I bought the second immediately and I have to say the second is even better! Part mystery and part World Wat II drama, this novel speeds along like a good action flick. The lead character, Billy, is a bit of a cowardly lion sort. A career police officer in civilian life, Billy is not exactly cowardly, but he is certainly interested in keeping himself out of the front lines of the war if at all possible. Still, when things get tough or his friends are in danger he is the first one into the fray. A very likable character. For pure entertainment value, I would highly recommend this book. I'm not quite finished with this one, the second in the series, but I plan to download the third as soon as I finish writing this review.
EvelynS More than 1 year ago
After reading the free book... the first in the series, I had to get the third one! A bit slow to start, but great after that. I learned several interesting things about WWII and how the nurses corps ran... Being a military retired female myself, it really was interesting how the female military vs male military officers were treated. Great history and a who dunit type of mystery... good read!
NewsieQ More than 1 year ago
Boston cop Billy Boyle, now an Army officer assigned to his uncle “Ike” Eisenhower, finds himself in the first wave of Allied troops ashore in French North Africa in 1942. He and his superior officer, Major Sam Harding, are to facilitate the pre-arranged surrender of French troops. But nothing is as simple as when there are so many competing factions. While at an American hospital in the contested area, Billy investigates the murder of a supply sergeant and what looks like the theft of drugs, including that new wonder drug penicillin. Then there’s a second murder at the hospital. What’s going on? While he investigates what he’s been ordered to investigate, he also needs to find and rescue his lady love Diana Seaton, who’s a British spy. She and a group of student activists has been taken hostage and are being held near a military supply depot. Billy Boyle is a great character, supported by Harding and “Kaz,” a Polish baron who’s not well enough physically to be a soldier, but whose many skills are a great help to the Allied cause. The First Wave is much like the first book in the series, Billy Boyle, and I have a feeling that future books will follow much the same formula. That formula winds up with Billy and Kaz all but disregarding the rules and their orders, getting themselves in big trouble and, with a swashbuckling swagger, defeating Allied enemies. In both books, Billy and Kaz have taken physical punishment that would stagger lesser men and gone on within minutes to fully recover. Although I enjoyed books one and two in this series, I will take a vacation from them for awhile.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg i thought this was gonna be crappy because it was already on my nook
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book and marvelous mystery
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
"The First Wave" by James R. Benn is second book in the fictional Billy Boyle series. In the Billy Boyle book (review) we meet the young Boston cop who has been enlisted as a special investigator to his uncle in Washington during WWII. Only that his uncle is Ike, and he takes Billy with him overseas. The characters from the first book are being assembled, this time in Algeria, getting ready for the Allied forces to take over, hoping the French won't put up a fight (they did). Stations in a military hospital, Boyle discovers that a drug smuggling ring involving many high ranking Vichy officials is operating with aid from someone who is knowledgeable about top secret data. Mix the smuggling up with a coup, murders and a kidnapping and you got the making of an interesting story. Billy not only has to uncover the corruption which has become the norm, but also be sensitive as to not screw up Eisenhower's notorious "deal with Darlan" - the fascist, antisemitic highest ranking leader of the French Vichy government. While the first book in the series I considered historical-fiction, this book is more of a crime story which happens during war time. The history is there, but it there are far too many liberties taken with time-line and the story-line does not deal with any specific occurrences (such as Operation Jupiter from the last book). The author did make this clear at the end notes, otherwise my rating would dropped.That being said, I like the fact that the stories revolve around little known events of World War II instead of the big ones we all learned about. In "The First Wave" Billy has matured, he has seen devastation, revenge, backstabbing and some more of the acts men do in war time. Much like Billy, so has Mr. Benn's narrative matured. The book is still an easy read and fast paced , but is more darker in storyline as well as tone. The competing Vichy (that's the French government the Nazi's installed) interested are outlined by Mr. Benn are very interesting. Those interests shows how complicated and somewhat unrealistic were the hopes of the Allies that they would be greeted as liberators (we were not). The book also centers around two other main subject, while not as exciting as murder & mayhem are no less important and in my opinion even more. The first is Pfizer's ability to mass produce penicillin. The second is the important role of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. It was very inspiring to read a book which honors those women who despite holding a "Relative Rank" (meaning they didn't have to be saluted to) and getting 50% less than their male counterparts, still volunteered in droves to serve in combat zones. For more book reviews please visit ManOfLaBook dot com
glauver More than 1 year ago
The second novel of the Billy Boyle mysteries moves from England to North Africa during the 1942 invasion. James R. Benn keeps the plot moving along, with murders, confrontations, captures, stolen drugs, and air raids coming thick and fast. Billy's love interest Diana is missing and he hunts for her through Vichy French streets and bars. The story is complex, perhaps too much so, but Billy and his friends Kaz and Major Harding are interesting enough to keep the reader involved. Sometimes the story reminded me of British thriller writer Alistair MacLean but there was a darkness to it that MacLean's writing lacked. I'm not convinced this a great series but I plan to keep reading.
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elecnurs More than 1 year ago
As a World War 2 buff, I was drawn to Benn's series for the setting. In every book, he highlights some interesting historical facts as he tells an engaging, sometimes surprising, tale of mystery and intrigue. These books have almost non-stop action. The real treasure is the likable characters. Billy Boyle, the protagonist, will have you thinking back to those war movies from the 40's, with his likable angst ridden personality. These books are a great read.
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