Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery (Billy Boyle World War II, #1)
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Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery (Billy Boyle World War II #1)

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  1,320 ratings  ·  214 reviews
“This book has got it all—an instant classic.”—Lee Child, author of The Hard Way

“It is a pleasure marching off to war with the spirited Billy Boyle. He is a charmer, richly imagined and vividly rendered, and he tells a finely suspenseful yarn.”—Dan Fesperman, author of The Prisoner of Guantanamo

What’s a twenty-two-year-old Irish American cop who’s never been out of Mas...more
ebook, 287 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Soho Crime (first published September 1st 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,432)
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LJ
First Sentence: I typed the date under my name: Lieutenant William Boyle, August 6, 1942.

Former Boston Irish Cop, from a family of Boston Irish Cops, Billy Boyle was a newly-made detective and is now a Lieutenant in the US Army. In spite of thinking he wouldn’t be assigned to Europe, his distant cousin manages to get him a staff job—in England assigned to the staff of General Dwight D. Eisenhower as his personal investigator. His first assignment is to catch a spy who may have been planted at Be...more
Tracey
Three stars--I give them grudgingly. This kickoff volume in a series starts with promise: A newly minted young detective from Boston gets recruited into the army during WWII, prompting his family to land him what he and they think is a cushy job helping Uncle Ike--that's Dwight Eisenhower to us--in London. Though Billy Boyle gets tossed right in to an investigation surrounding the British and Norwegian allies, the action has to shoulder past chunks of internal dialogue--as do the other character...more
Mary Ronan Drew
The Boyle family of Boston is used to relying on family to help out. The Boyle men are cops and young Billy Boyle has just made detective on December 5, 1941. He didn't do very well in school, being too interested in hanging out with his friends in South Boston, so when it was time to take the detective exam Billy wasn't sure he was going to pass. Until some pages of the exam showed up unexpectedly in his locker, complete with answers. There are real benefits from having a father, uncle, and old...more
Tony
Benn, James R. BILLY BOYLE. (2006). **. This is the first novel in the series featuring Billy Boyle. The others, so far, include “The First Wave,” “Blood Alone,” and “Evil For Evil.” The author is a librarian for a school system in Hartford, and I first came across him at the recent Bouchercon convention. He was on a panel called “War Noir.” It is obvious that he is a WW II maven and that his facts surrounding his fiction are as true as he can make them. The hero, Billy Boyle, is a young detecti...more
Justin
I've never been a mystery reader, and only started exploring the genre this year, when I began working as a librarian and inherited the helm of a mystery book club. I decided to give this one a try, since I've always liked stories with WWII settings. I expected a somewhat pulpy noir book, considering the setting. That's largely what I got, but I ended up being surprised; I loved this book a lot more than I thought I would.

This book introduces Billy Boyle, a cop from South Boston that has heretof...more
Chris
Publishers Weekly and Booklist gave this book so so reviews. I thought it was great. A very different and original look at WWII. Billy Boyle is a rough Boston cop who will take whatever nepotism dishes out to him: a job as a cop in Boston, a promotion to detective, and later a plum posting to Uncle Ike's staff in London so he can hide out the war in a safe place. Initially he reminded me of George McDonald Fraser's Flashman character, but he's not such a cad and shirker. Billy is a tough charact...more
Helen
This book was a joy to read. My parents and our family lived through WWII in London and some of the descriptions of the conditions, albeit most in the rural areas, brought back a lot of conversations that happened over the years. The story is also captivating - I can understand the frustration of being convinced that even your family are not telling you everything. I look forward to reading the other books.

Update - sadly my bookstore of choice stocks very few of Mr.Benn's works on their shelves...more
Lizabeth Tucker
Subtitled "A World War II Mystery", this is a book for people with some patience. It takes a long time for the mystery to begin, but the trip is worth the wait.

The book begins slowly, taking the time to introduce our characters, starting with the main character and hero William Boyle. He's an South Boston Irish cop from a family of cops, his father and uncle, who enlisted in the Army shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It wasn't from patriotism, it was more to prevent being drafted and pu...more
Shannon
Nov 03, 2008 Shannon rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Todd
Recommended to Shannon by: Jason
Jason and I did a trade: I really wanted him to read The Host by Stephenie Meyer because I thought he would enjoy it, so I told him I would read any book he chose if he would read that one for me. He agreed and Billy Boyle was his offering.

The first 20-30 pages, I wasn't so sure I was going to enjoy the book. The titular character is a pretty immature guy who essentially joins the Army to get a desk job in order to avoid direct combat in WWII. Luckily, he matures pretty quickly and his character...more
John
I've been wanting to read this series for several years, because the idea of a Boston cop solving crimes in World War II sounded like great fun. Unfortunately the first book didn't deliver enough thrills for me to want to continue reading the rest of the series. Billy is a fun main character with a distincitive point of view, but Benn has a heavy hand when it comes to pacing. This is one of the slowest-starting mysteries I've ever read, and the author's penchant for minute detail often slows thi...more
Adam Fortner
Fast-paced, intriguing, and hard to put down. Interesting premise (a high-level detective during WWII) but not super WAR-heavy, although it certainly plays a part. I'd recommend for anyone who likes a mystery.
RuthG
I had a hard time deciding how to rate this one. The mystery turns out to be more complex than it seems at first and it definitely has a lot of details about WWII that are interesting. I wasn't caught up in it right away and, overall, I think I would rate it 3.5. Billy's connection to Dwight Eisenhower is a little too pat to seem possible. The reason I liked it more near the end isn't only because the mystery became more interesting. It's also because some of the moral issues of war were explore...more
Carol
This is for any mystery lover or history buff--or both! Billy Boyle is a young detective in Boston when W.W.II breaks out and is fortunate enough to have as his "Uncle Ike", yes, Eisenhower. His family pulls some strings to keep him out of the regular army and he is sent to England to work for Ike. His first assignment? Find a traitor. Not only is this a good mystery based on true facts from the war, it becomes a commentary on the effects of war on ordinary people and the morality, or lack of it...more
Sue
Jun 03, 2010 Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers, historical
Recommended to Sue by: Kate
I liked this different take on WWII from the view of a young American soldier newly arrived in England and assigned to Eisenhower's staff. As a setting for a mystery it's very different and I found it well written and a satisfying read. This was recommended by Kate of the much-missed Kate's Mystery Books, Cambridge, MA.
Laura
Got 100 pages in and decided I didn't care if Billy found the spy or not so I stopped reading. Just not feeling a connection with the characters.
Tim
Even two months later, I enjoy thinking about the book - the characters, the fast pace, some wonderful, somewhat cynical observations about all aspects of life, and some education thrown in.

The story revolves around the main character, Billy Boyle, who is an Irish American cop from Boston. He finds himself in special status as an inspector for a rising US general - Eisenhower to be exact - who he is related through via the Dowd side of the family. Boyle is quick to point out that his special sta...more
Marge
In this first in a series, a cocky young man thinks he has found a way to avoid battle but ends up in an investigation more dangerous as he tries to find a Nazi spy. His background as a Boston cop comes in handy when a murder occurs as the Allies plan an invasion of Norway. Benn blends historic details with a fictional mystery. Some in my book club said it was too confusing because of all the characters. Others didn't like Boyle, saying he was too much of a smart aleck. But for those who like Wo...more
Steve
Billy Boyle is Boston-Irish, and like his father and uncle a cop. Just as his family had gone to fight in the First World War, Billy finds himself eligible to fight in the up-coming troubles in Europe. Thanks to connections Billy is able to enter as an officer and quickly finds himself attached to the staff of his Uncle Ike. It just happens that his uncle is named Eisenhower, and he is in need of someone with the talents of a homicide detective, just like Billy.

Writer James R. Benn has created a...more
Chris
In this book author James R. Benn writes about the exploits of LT. Billy Boyle in World War II England. After the entrance of the United States in to World War II Boyle, a Boston police officer, doesn't allow his influential family to keep him from serving his country in the Army, but he doesn't want too dangerous of a job so he goes to Officer Candidate School hoping to serve his time in the Army at a billet safely out of harm's way. Life for Boyle takes an unexpected turn early in the novel wh...more
Jonathan
Billy Boyle is the first of what is currently 6 mysteries featuring the eponymous main character, who is a fresh faced detective from South Boston who is drafted into the Army and serves under General Eisenhower during World War 2. Just after making detective grade, Billy Boyle gets drafted and whisked off to London.

In London, he is tasked with uncovering a Norwegian spy. They are planning a big invasion of Norway but there is a spy in their midst and it is up to Billy Boyle to uncover him. Alo...more
Eric_W
Billy is a Boston detective, enlisted in the army and stationed with his uncle "Ike," yes the Ike. Ike wants to use his abilities as a detective to investigate nefarious goings-on and to make sure that corruption is held to a minimum. Problem is that Billy's relatives, good Irish cops, pulled some strings to get him attached to Ike's entourage so as to avoid the front and Billy doesn't have much experience as a detective, having only been appointed to the detective squad. No matter, he gamely ta...more
Jeannie Mancini
Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, young city cop Billy Boyle gets drafted to the war front in London. Fortunately for Billy, his uncle General Ike Eisenhower steers him away from the battlefields and requests that his favorite nephew become his own personal investigative detective. Using his Bostonian police experience, Billy is to begin his military tour of duty solving war crimes.

As an Irish New Englander born and bred, Billy is quite green around the gills when his shiny black po...more
Jan
This was a Goodreads win thank you.

Story: Young Irish-American policeman is drafted to England during WWII. Family pulls "family" strings, and Billy is attached to his Uncles command. Uncle, being General Ike!

He finds his police background being utilized when a murder is committed at the Norwegian H.Q. There is also rumors of a German spy. Lt. Boyd brings his Boston police training into the fold. Trying to get his head around a mystery, he often pulls from his memories of what his dad or his unc...more
Ruth
C2006: This was a GR recommendation which turned out to be very enjoyable. I tend to dislike novels set in or around World War II as it remains close to home (excuse the pun). I found the writing style to be fresh and, well, almost perky and the mystery was good enough to come to a satisfying confusion but needed, I felt, an additional twist. Be that as it may, the characters were well drawn but I felt that the near endless discussions between the three “musketeers” rendered me impatient about h...more
Zohar - ManOfLaBook.com
I got this eBook for free.
Disclaimer: I'm a sucker for books about WWII and espionage novels.

This book is a historical fiction story about an enlisted Boston policeman in England during WWII. Billy Boyle, a young American solider, a policeman in a family of policeman finds himself embroiled in the dramatic events which overtook Europe in 1942. However, Boyle finds himself tangled up in mysteries of treason and murder.

The story centers on Operation Jupiter, the allies plan to free Norway from the...more
David
WOW!

This was a GREAT historical mystery novel. Okay, it has a really lame title (and it appears to be the first of a series)..

Billy Boyle manages to get placed on Eisenhower's staff in England. He's a young Boston cop who had just made detective and is suddenly called upon to help ferret out a spy. Then there's a murder to solve and young Billy is tasked with finding the murderer, who may or may not be the spy.

What makes this a great read is that the author is able to mix a mystery with a bit o...more
Zach
For those who enjoyed this I recommend:

The Runner by Christopher Reich

An Unlikely Spy by Daniel Silva

Pretty good as a first book, I am curious if the series improves in the later installments.

The main character is interesting and the first person narration is often witty and fun. The author also appears to be trying to make Billy a more three dimensional character by giving hints of a slight darker family background and his own possible slightly less than stellar moral code. However, other cha...more
Judy
It's 1942 and Lt. Billy Boyle is in London fresh from Officer's Candidate School. He left the Boston Police Department after Pearl Harbor to join the Army and his Irish-American family pulled strings to get him on the staff of his mother's distant relative, General Dwight Eisenhower. Really. Quite the set-up for the first book in a planned World War II mystery series. The information about England in the first months after Americans began to arrive in great numbers was very interesting. However,...more
Iowa City Public Library
Cop from Boston, in 1942 London , is a very brief synopsis of an interesting period mystery, Billy Boyle by James R. Benn. Billy comes from a family of Irish-American cops in Boston. He is drafted and in an effort to keep him safe his mother uses her influence with her cousin by marriage, Uncle Ike (yes, as in General Eisenhower), to get her son assigned to army headquarters in London. Soon he is investigating the death of a top Norwegian official while worrying about a spy who is tampering with...more
Susan Wilcox
I'm not really a mystery person, so for me to have it completely wrong is nothing new. Mostly I just go along for the ride. The ending would probably be obvious to anyone who reads mysteries as a regular thing, though, because I had all the right people pegged, just for the wrong things.

Having said that, I love books set during WWII. Not having had to live through it, I have the luxury of admiring the resilience of our predecessors from a couple of generations removed. So I enjoyed the time peri...more
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James R. Benn is the author of Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery, selected by Book Sense as one of the top five mysteries of 2006 and nominated for a Dilys Award. The First Wave was a Book Sense Notable title.
Benn is a librarian and lives in Hadlyme, Connecticut.

More about James R. Benn...
The First Wave (Billy Boyle World War II, #2) Blood Alone (Billy Boyle World War II, #3) Evil for Evil (Billy Boyle World War II, #4) Rag and Bone (Billy Boyle World War II, #5) A Mortal Terror (Billy Boyle World War II, #6)

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“There it was, a sign above a shop that said 221B BAKER STREET. My mouth hung open. I looked around at the ordinary street and the white-painted buildings, looking clean in the morning rain. Where were the fog, the streetlights, the gray atmosphere? The horses pulling carriages, bringing troubled clients to Watson and Holmes? I had to admit I had been impressed with Big Ben and all, but for a kid who had devoured the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, this was really something. I was on Baker Street, driving by the rooms of Holmes and Watson! I sort of wished it were all in black and white and gray, like in the movies.” 7 likes
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