W. Y. Boyd, Author, Bill Boyd, Author . Elton-Wolf $21.95 (204p) ISBN 978-1-58619-046-0

A murder mystery adds intrigue to Boyd's latest war novel, set during the last months of WWII as Second Lt. Charles Donnelly and his unit make the final drive from the Rhine into the heart of Nazi Germany. Following a pivotal battle, the beleaguered platoon discovers they've suffered another casualty when a mop-up detail comes upon an American soldier shot dead in a barn, sprawled next to a beautiful German civilian woman who has been raped and murdered. Donnelly's commander, Col. Lawrence Coleman, puts him in charge of the investigation until the Army's crime specialists arrive, and Donnelly confirms that the dead soldier, who is Coleman's nephew, was shot by an American officer. Donnelly continues to accumulate evidence until Coleman sends him on a mission to hold off a band of SS soldiers with only a handful of men. Donnelly succeeds with a crucial, unexpected assist from a buddy who supplies artillery support, but his unit suffers heavy losses when the German troops launch an attack to recover a group of hospitalized Nazi generals from American-occupied territory. Boyd, a WWII veteran who fought in the European theater, depicts military life convincingly and maintains tension with his brisk plotting, but the characterizations don't rise above stock, and the transitions between the war scenes and crime material are often abrupt. The final confrontation with the murderer is a bit cartoonish, but the suspenseful plot and Boyd's take on wartime's moral ambiguities make this a worthwhile read. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
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