Blue Madonna: A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery

James R. Benn. Soho Crime, $26.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-61695-642-4
Mystery fans may be disappointed that Benn’s 11th Billy Boyle novel (after 2015’s The White Ghost) is more a thriller than a whodunit, though the suspenseful story line, set on the eve of the Normandy invasion in 1944, will keep readers turning the pages. Boyle, a former Boston cop turned U.S. Army investigator who has been stationed in England for most of the war, is caught by surprise when MPs arrest him and he’s charged with selling military property for a profit. Facing a court-martial, he has only an inexperienced young attorney to defend him. To avoid punishment, Boyle, who’s demoted from captain to private, agrees to undertake a hazardous mission in France, whose success is threatened by a murderer. Only late in the action does he have a homicide to solve. The prose sometimes verges on the overwrought (“A tear made a tiny drop on the blank paper. The fibers soaked it up and it vanished, like a false identity long forgotten”), but Benn movingly depicts Nazi cruelties that Boyle and his comrades witness. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/11/2016
Release date: 09/13/2016
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-61695-834-3
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