Biography


Writing the Billy Boyle World War II mystery series has brought me an immense amount of joy. I've gotten to meet people in person and online from all over the country (and the rest of the world) and hear their reactions, feedback, and most importantly, their own stories.

My idea for a historical mystery series set within the Allied High Command during the Second World War began with the first title, Billy Boyle, which takes place in England and Norway in 1942. The second, The First Wave, carries on a few months later during the Allied invasion of French Northwest Africa. The third, Blood Alone continues the story through the Allied invasion of Sicily. In the fourth installment, Evil For Evil (September 2009) Billy Boyle voyages to Ireland.

The fifth book in the series deals with the infamous Katyn Massacre of Polish Officers by the Soviets, and how the uncovering of that crime affected the war, especially Polish-Americans and the Poles in exile in England. It is titled Rag and Bone (from the Yeats poem), and was released September 2010. Number six, released in 2011, is A Mortal Terror. It is set in southern Italy and within the Anzio beach head, where Billy tracks down the Red Heart Killer, who is targeting officers of increasingly senior rank. Mortal terror also refers to combat fatigue and the terrible effects of prolonged exposure to the not only combat but the rigors of winter in the mountains.

The 2012 release is titled Death's Door. It is set within the Vatican City, during the German occupation of Rome.

There are also two stand-alone novels published by E-Reads and available from B&N or Amazon. One is Souvenir, an exploration of the effects of World War II combat on one man during three stages of his life. Another isOn Desperate Gro und, a WWII thriller set during the last days of the war.

I live in Hadlyme, Connecticut, with my wife Deborah Mandel, a psychotherapist who offers many insights into the motivations of my characters, a good critical read, and much else. Our dog Ranger lives with us. We have two sons, Jeff and Ben, and seven grandchildren (Camille, Claudia, Emma, Luke, Nathaniel, Noah, Oliver).

I'm a graduate of the University of Connecticut and received my MLS degree from Southern Connecticut State University. I am a member of the Mystery Writers of America, and the Author's Guild. I've worked in the library and information technology fields for over thirty-five years and quit the day job routine in 2011 to write full-time.

I've learned two valuable lessons since I started writing which have helped me greatly. The first is a quote from Oscar Wilde, who said "The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of one's pants to a chair." The second is from novelist Rachel Basch, who told me "the story has to move down, as well as forward." Both sound simple. Neither is.

Selected Works

Billy Boyle World War II Mystery Series
From the Mysterious Review, on Death's Door: "The 'Billy Boyle, World War II' mysteries are among the most consistently well written and researched crime novels published today, and are highly recommended."
"Taut pacing and great characters." --Crimespree Magazine
"An utterly splendid novel."
--Cornelia Read
"James Benn is a wonderful writer, and Blood Alone is terrific."
--Joseph Finder
"A solid follow up to Benn's first novel, The First Wave makes me look forward to his next."
--Robert B. Parker
"This book has got it all - an instant classic." --Lee Child. "Benn's novel flashes through the mind like celluloid images of Leslie Howard, Greer Garson and Peter Lorre" --The Guardian
"A thrilling, fast-paced book..." Mystery Scene Magazine.

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