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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 Mysteries #1)

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  2,122 Ratings  ·  291 Reviews
What’s a twenty-two-year-old Irish American cop who’s never been out of Massachusetts before doing at Beardsley Hall, an English country house, having lunch with King Haakon of Norway? Billy Boyle himself wonders. Back home in Southie, he’d barely made detective when war was declared. Unwilling to fight—and perhaps die—for England, he was relieved when his mother wangled a ...more
ebook, 287 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Soho Crime (first published September 1st 2006)
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Apr 21, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 23, 2010 Justin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary Ronan Drew
Nov 05, 2013 Mary Ronan Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 17, 2012 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Fredrick Danysh
Mar 03, 2017 Fredrick Danysh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Billy Boyd has just made detective in Boston when America enters World War II. His family pulls strings to get him a commission and assigned to his cousin Eisenhower's staff in Washington, D.C. But then the general is given command in England and Billy is transferred to the war zone where the general uses him as a personal investigator to route a spy ring.
Nov 02, 2008 Shannon rated it liked it  ·  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
Martin Hill
Oct 17, 2016 Martin Hill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Billy Boyle is a reluctant soldier and an insecure police detective. Shortly after earning his detective badge—largely due to the influence of his father and uncle, both Boston police detectives themselves—Boyle finds himself in the Army, a "butter bar" second lieutenant assigned to the staff of General Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower, who also happens to be Boyle's uncle through marriage. Ike wants to use Boyle as his personal special investigator, unaware that the young officer never investigated a cr ...more
Lizabeth Tucker
Feb 22, 2013 Lizabeth Tucker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Billy Boyle had just earned rank of Detective on the Boston Police force prior to Pearl Harbor and knew that it was a matter of time until he was part of the US troops sent into action. Family members pulled some strings and called in favors and Billy found himself in London as part of the Eisenhower's European Theater of Operations. Eisenhower, Uncle Ike to Billy, had specifically requested his service. Operation Jupiter was being planned and it was thought that there was a German spy in the ra ...more
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
Jun 16, 2013 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: myst-suspense
First, let me explain I do not care for books about War. There is too much War in real life for me to read all about it.
That said, Billy Boyle by James R. Benn was simply a delight. Billy is a VERY YOUNG Boston detective who is drafted into the military. He became a Detective because of Family Ties and hopes for a cushy military job stateside... Nah as a Lieutenant (more help), he gets to serve as an Investigator under his Uncle Ike. Yup THAT Ike.
Despite his youth and inexperience, Billy he is
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
Nov 24, 2009 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 19, 2010 RuthG rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, wartime
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
Jun 03, 2010 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Judy King
Aug 23, 2011 Judy King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written, well charactized mystery of the best order -- I thought I had it solved, but Benn through in a great twist during the reveal. The ending seemed to gloss over some important issues -- or it might have been me reading until past 2 a.m. to finish. I might have drifted off and missed a little!
Jul 27, 2013 Ruth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd give it a 3.5. The story line was good, but the protagonist grated a bit on my nerves. Although I suspect that the things that bothered me about him might diminish as the series progresses and his character develops. Might be worth checking out a later book.
Adam Fortner
Jan 27, 2014 Adam Fortner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 24, 2015 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished-myst
Well-written, believable behind-the-scenes of WWII.
Jul 17, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it
A good first-of-the-series book. Generally, I liked the protagonist, Billy. Occasionally, not so much. I will read at least one more of the series to see where it goes.
Oct 16, 2011 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 16, 2017 Tandem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A different take on this detective story

A Boston cop in 2nd World War years, investigating a murder in the Norwegian Army. Go figure, very entertaining. I'm looking for some more Billy Boyle stories.
Zohar -
Aug 23, 2010 Zohar - rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
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
Sep 29, 2010 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jeannie Mancini
Jan 31, 2011 Jeannie Mancini rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Laura Edwards
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 14, 2012 Jonathan rated it really liked it
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
Mar 30, 2016 Pattie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm just getting started but already I like this book better than the audio version of book #5 in the series. Guess that means I'm going to have to read that one to see if the sarcasm I so enjoy in this book continues. Just goes to show, you have to give a series a chance, especially where audio books are concerned.
I enjoyed the print version lots more than the audio version that introduced me to this series. For starters, it helps to start with the first book and have a better feel for B
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Billy Boyle World War II Mysteries (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • 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)
  • Death's Door (Billy Boyle World War II, #7)
  • A Blind Goddess (Billy Boyle World War II, #8)
  • The Rest is Silence (Billy Boyle World War, #9)
  • The White Ghost (Billy Boyle World War II, #10)
  • Blue Madonna (Billy Boyle World War II, #11)

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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.” 8 likes
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