cover image Solemn Graves: A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery

Solemn Graves: A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery

James R. Benn. Soho Crime, $26.95 (360p) ISBN 978-1-61695-849-7

Set in the summer of 1944, Benn’s exceptional 13th mystery featuring U.S. Army investigator Billy Boyle (after 2017’s The Devouring) takes Boyle to Normandy, where Maj. David Jerome, the commanding officer of a signals company, has been found with his throat slit in a villa. A glass near the body with morphine residue at the bottom indicates to Boyle that the murderer spiked the major’s drink to lessen his resistance. Oddly, troops from Jerome’s company who were at the crime scene when Boyle arrived don’t hang around to be questioned—and Boyle must also account for the presence of 20-year-old Yvonne Virot, a mute woman living in the villa, whose clothing is drenched with blood. Complicating Billy’s task are a morally suspect Resistance leader and the villa’s owner, whose code name in the Resistance—Corday—evokes the excesses of the French Revolution. Details about ways to deceive the enemy about Allied army strength lend verisimilitude. Benn has never been better at integrating a whodunit plot line with a realistic depiction of life on or near the battlefield. (Sept.)