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Rag and Bone (Billy Boyle World War II Mysteries #5)

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  516 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
The fifth Billy Boyle investigation

American Lieutenant Billy Boyle is assigned to London by his uncle, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, to investigate the murder of a Russian security officer in the buildup to D-Day. Billy recognizes that this is a politically charged case, pitting Allies against one another, and that he must proceed with caution. The Polish contingent is inc
ebook, 320 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Soho Crime
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After learning that I was going to receive a copy of the latest entry in this series, A Blind Goddess, through Goodreads First Reads program, I decided it was time to return and catch up with the series. I've enjoyed all my outings with Billy Boyle. This time he's in England, caught up with a complex web of Soviet emissaries who may be more than they seem, the politics of the Katyn Forest massacre massacre which was just becoming known, the English criminal element. and various levels of America ...more
Nov 23, 2010 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm about half-way through this book and am thoroughly enjoying it. Those who know me know I've a fetish for all things WWII and Benn's Billy Boyle series tickles that fetish quite nicely. This most recent installment has Billy, a young Boston cop in civilian life, serving as a (now) First Lieutenant in the American army assignd to his Uncle Ike's staff (he's a distant relative to the General through Maimie). Ike once again uses Billy's investigatory skills to solve a crime that could have an ad ...more
I thought this would be an entertaining whodunit set in World War Two. It is that, but it's also a penetrating look at wartime compromises, a fascinating history, and a richly atmospheric police procedural.

As if that weren't enough of an etouffe, Mr. Benn (who, in addition to being an author, is also a longtime librarian) has a knack for focusing on how geopolitical questions impact individual lives. The January, 1944 time frame of this novel was carefully chosen. Benn's gangsters, cops, spies,
Dolf Patijn
May 07, 2014 Dolf Patijn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like this series. It's a good combination of WW II history and a detective story. Somebody else commented on James R. Benn not being very good at writing about the relationship between Billy Boyle and his girlfriend Diana and in my opinion he's right. In this book they're only together for a few moments though and the rest is a story of murder and mystery. James R. Benn is good at describing wartime England. The events mentioned in the book are historically accurate which makes it more ...more
Jane Irish Nelson
Sep 27, 2015 Jane Irish Nelson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jane by: Sandy
Shelves: mystery, historical
Billy is sent back to London to investigate the killing of a Russian officer. There are very few leads, and the prime suspect is Billy's friend Kaz, a Polish baron. The Poles and the Russians are at odds, as the Allies seem determined to suppress the truth about atrocities committed by the Russians against the Poles, instead blaming them on the Nazis.

But with the help of Big Mike and other contacts Billy makes, he threads his way between the various groups, as they all seem to be spying on each
Bill Sleeman
Feb 12, 2011 Bill Sleeman rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spies
As always an enjoyable read. I especially like the interplay of the Polish government in exile and the Soviet military trying to find ways to work together (or not). Benn has taken a little explored tension of the Allies war effort and built a very good story around it. As I have said in the past Benn is at his weakest in the romance passages - particularly the Billy Boyle and Diane interactions - which are clunky and not at all convincing. It almost seems as if Benn wants to humanize Billy’s re ...more
Jan 21, 2011 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book very much. The limning of 1943 London is so vivid. A Russian officer is killed in the same way as the Polish officers in Katyn Forest in 1940: hsnds tied behind his back and a bullet shot into the back of his head. Russia, the US and the UK are allies in this war. The killer must be found and we read about the intrigues and back stabbing amongst allies. The world seemed to be more naive then. People were accepted as they presented themselves. Gentlemen did not spy on each oth ...more
Mar 13, 2012 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is number 5 in the Billy Boyle W.W.II mysteries. This title especially intrigued me, as it brought back strong memories of the rag and bone man and his horse, calling out to all us youngsters (in the time) to bring the rags and treasurers to the cart. In return we were given gold fishes. However, much to my surprise, it had nothing at all to do with the rag and bone men and their carts and horses, but a line from a poem!

Billy has been tasked, once again to find a killer. This time it is a R
Ever wonder if Danny Boyle from Chris Grabenstein's Ceepak novels and Billy Boyle from James R. Benn's World War II series might be cousins? Although the two series differ in almost every respect, they have one thing in common -- the character growth of the Boyle boys as their series progress. Each starts as a wide-eyed innocent (despite Billy's police experience in South Boston) and through experience and mentoring learns to deal with moral ambiguity, to find his center, and to judge when to li ...more
Jun 01, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love historical mysteries and Billy Boyle is one of my favorite series. The settings, characters, and main situation are well researched. Told from the first person perspective of Billy Boyle, if you're smart enough you can actually solve the mystery yourself--or at least feel like you almost had it. Unlike a Sherlock Holmes or Jane Marple mystery, there isn't any long drawn out revelation scene where information you couldn't possibly have known is dragged in to tie everything up with a bow. I ...more
The fifth in a series of mysteries set during World War II, which, in plot and characterization attempts to do for WWII what Jacqueline Winspear and Charles Todd's books do for World War I. I did not find the protagonist, Billy Boyle, as well filled out as I would have liked, but that may not be fair since the four previous novels, which I have not read, probably worked more on back story. However, the plot, and the use of wartime London as the setting, were superbly executed. Boyle, a U.S. Army ...more
Jun 20, 2015 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am enjoying this mystery series. Billy Boyle comes from a family of cops in Boston, and is a distant relative of General Eisenhower. He works as Eisenhower's private investigator, solving thefts or murders that they want kept quiet so as not to jeopardize the war effort and the Allies alliance. The atmosphere of World War II Europe is very well done, and Billy is capable but not cocky.
Oct 20, 2010 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Billy Boyle returns to England, part of the advance group for Uncle Ike's new offices. However, he's also sent to dig into the death of an ally, a Russian official who may have come to harm via the Poles. Once again, Benn creates such a great sense of place in this historical mystery. From some of the people of London still living in the Tube long after the Blitz to the unsure feelings between our allies in WWII, Billy and the reader have a lot to learn about human motivation. There is a bit of ...more
Sean Jones
Sep 16, 2016 Sean Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ripping yarn that returns to the standard of earlier books

Enjoyed this much like I enjoyed the first couple of novels. The writing brings back a historical context but also a great mystery.
Aug 17, 2010 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is about the fifth in a series, but I have not read the rest of the series. Billy Boyle is a Boston cop now, during WWII, attached to Eisenhower who is a distant relative (or maybe Maimie is the relative, I didn't really get that part). When incidents happen that might cause military or political problems for the allies, Billy investigates. In this case the murder of a Russian officer in London might be related to revenge for the murder of the Polish officers in the Katyn woods. The book is ...more
Carolyn Rose
Jul 15, 2014 Carolyn Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice mix of fiction and history with a look at the uneasy alliance with Russia. It helped that I had recently watched a number of documentaries about WWII that touched on the Katyn massacre.
Mike Vines
Jul 02, 2015 Mike Vines rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great historical mystery in the Billy Boyle World War II series. "Uncle Ike" Eisenhower sends Billy to London to investigate the murder of a Russian, possibly by his Polish friend, Kaz. Another fine effort by Mr. Benn.
Billy Boyle finds himself in London. His task is to investigate the murder of a Russian official. However, he finds himself in a maze of other problems including dealing with a London underground crime boss, winning the support of New Scotland Yard, and keeping M15 agents on his side.All this while the Nazi bombers target the streets of London.

Librarian and author James Benn has once again done his research into little known facts of World War II and blended them into a mystery with lots of twis
Apr 24, 2012 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think my friend friend Jessica Smith recommended this series. Reminded me of the TV series Foyle's War. Picked up this book because it was about WWII and Polish exiles in London. A mystery read with a historical setting: WWII and Britain and Poland (specifically, the Katyn massacre in Poland - 20,000 Polish Officers were murdered by the Soviets. But, blame was placed on the Nazis.) And, Billy Boyle, is the main character. He is an Irish American Boston cop, now a US Army detective. His uncle i ...more
Feb 11, 2014 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
mystery during WW ll Iterestig plot. Woder howo much is close to the truth.
Ken French
Apr 03, 2015 Ken French rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorites of this series, partly because it takes place almost exclusively in London (except for a brief excursion to Dover Castle). Since I'm going to be in London next week and am planning a day trip to Dover Castle, it seemed appropriate.
May 10, 2015 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing, the stories, the character just keep getting better with each installment.
May 04, 2015 Jays rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jays by:
Another good Billy Boyle. He uncovers a russian spy and killer and also is on to the fact that MI5/MI6 has a traitor (Kim Philby) but he isn't sure who yet. Billy saves Kaz from a murder charge by uncovering the real murderers even though neither Sheila (the MI5 traitor) or Siril (russian NKVD murderer) get off. Sheila being taken out of MI5 and shipped off and the russian being sent back to russia. He also uncovers a plot to steal Gold by the russian and the London mobster Archie Chapman.
Mar 16, 2013 Nancie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As I mentioned in a previous note, I'm addicted to the series and this one, coming on the heels of Evil for Evil, restored my faith in Benn's stories. This is probably my favorite so far (I think there is one more and I'm sort of dreading reading it because I will have to wait for the next one.) Billy is back in London looking into the death of a Russian officer. While the Soviet may be allies, there is plenty of suspicion between partners. Kaz returns for this installment and the part the Poles ...more
Robin Halvorson
I am still enjoying this series.
Rating 3.5/5
Thomas Roth
Feb 02, 2014 Thomas Roth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think the best of the series so far. Billy is really learning to think like a detective. Excellent use of fiction and truth here.
Feb 20, 2011 Martina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this fifth episode of Billy's adventures, he's returned to London to investigate the killing of a Russian. Since the deaths of the Polish officers in Katyn Forest, there is suspicion of Kaz' role in all that is happening. Benn writes so well and crafts his stories to interweave historical fact with Billy Boyle fiction. I really enjoy this series a lot. Trying to get caught up on my reading for the big Soho Crime author event at the store. Too much life in the way of my reading these days...
Jun 20, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Billy meets Kim Philby and Winston Churchill in this page turner that pits Poles and Russians against each other in the UK over the Katyn Forest Massacre. As usual a criminal element complements the espionage and the body count keeps rising with Billy's best friend, Kaz, the principal suspect. You want the war never to end with these great mysteries that meld history and sleuthing so effectively. Benn does a superb job of introducing several historical events into this tale, not just the Katyn F ...more
Jan 12, 2014 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Found this entry in the series to be quite confusing -- involving Russian diplomats in London and threats to Billy's friend Kaz, a Free Polish officer. Could not get involved in the story - and lost the ending entirely...... sorry, Mr. Benn.
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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 11 books)
  • Billy Boyle (Billy Boyle World War II, #1)
  • 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)
  • 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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