Lieutenant Billy Boyle is the creation of James R. Benn. Brash, impulsive, dogged, and brave, Billy, an Irish-American cop from South Boston in his early twenties, has just made detective and has never headed up an investigation when Pearl Harbor is bombed and Billy is drafted into the army. His family, hoping to keep him out of the fighting, pulls in favors and finagles Billy a position with his “uncle” Ike who has a staff job, stateside, at the War Plans Division at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. But by the time Billy finishes Officer Candidate School, his “uncle”—General Dwight D. Eisenhower—is commanding the European Theater of Operations, and Billy is sent to his London Headquarters to work as his secret special investigator.
In Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery, the first book in the series and short-listed for the Dilys Award, General Eisenhower orders Major Sam Harding to take Billy along with him when he attends a top-secret briefing with the Norwegians. After being briefed on Operation Jupiter, Billy joins Major Harding, Second Officer Daphne Seaton, Women’s Royal Naval Service, Harding’s Administrative Assistant, and Lieutenant Baron Piotr Kazimierz of the Polish Army-in-Exile, Harding’s language expert and interpreter, as the group is dispatched to Beardsley Hall, the English home for the Norwegian Government-in-Exile. Billy is to use his detective skills to ferret out a spy among the Norwegian ranks before he has an opportunity to steal the plans for the Allied invasion of Norway. But when one of the high-ranking Norwegian exiles is found dead—an apparent suicide—Billy, convinced the man was murdered, sets out with the help of Kaz and Daphne to find his killer.
Told in the first person with fully drawn characters with all-too-human flaws that make you feel you know them, vivid settings filled with fascinating historical details, and intriguing and unexpected plot twists, Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery is an excellent read.
Note: While each book in the series can be read as a standalone, there is a continually developing storyline involving Billy Boyle, Lieutenant Baron Piotr Kazimierz, Diane Seaton—Daphne’s sister—and Major Sam Harding, so it’s best to read the books in order.