Elaborately plotted, Benn's eighth entry in the series (after Death's Door) has his World War II sleuth investigating a deplorable side of U.S. military history, His use of an ongoing narrative throughout the book to explain Billy and Tree's backstory is particularly well done.
“If you are already a fan of James R. Benn’s Billy Boyle World War II mysteries, you won’t want to miss A Blind Goddess, Billy’s latest ride, and if you haven’t yet taken the ride, it’s time you did…. Benn’s writing is crisp and descriptive as it always is, and his research, again as always, is impeccable.”
"Benn doesn’t skate around the issues of race relations and segregation in the 1940’s; he dives courageously in with both feet.... With A BLIND GODDESS, [he] has served up yet another delicious mystery to sink our teeth into—no way to ration this one."
"A Blind Goddess hits hardest when it examines the issue of internal racial politics during WWII... another fine, and recommended, book in a continuing series of Benn’s intriguing historical novels."
A Blind Goddess gets a Starred Review in Publisher's Weekly!
Pervasive racism in the U.S. Army during WWII frames Benn’s excellent eighth Billy Boyle whodunit (after 2012’s Death’s Door). In March 1944, Billy receives an appeal from an old estranged friend, Sgt. Eugene “Tree” Jackson. A member of Tree’s “colored” battalion has been arrested for the murder of Thomas Eastman, an English policeman, who was found with his head bashed in on his father’s grave in the village of Chilton Foliat. Tree is positive that the accused was mistakenly arrested. Boyle wants to help, but he’s pulled away into another homicide investigation west of London in which MI5 has an interest. The intelligence service’s role may be related to the fact that the victim’s landlords were two Germans who fled their native country because they opposed the Nazis. The superior plot and thoughtful presentation of institutional racism directed against American soldiers about to risk their lives for their country make this one of Benn’s best.
Booklist review of A BLIND GODDESS in the August 1st issue:
The eighth adventure in Benn’s engaging WWII series finds recently promoted Captain Billy Boyle, special investigator for General Eisenhower, assigned to find the killer of a seemingly ordinary citizen in a country village. An odd assignment for a military man, made odder by the fact that Billy has been given orders not to investigate the German family who run the boarding house where the victim lived. Meanwhile, Billy has reconnected with an old friend from Boston, a black man called Tree, a sergeant in a tank destroyer unit. There is bad blood between Billy and Tree, but Tree puts that aside to ask for Billy’s help in freeing a friend from his unit, wrongly accused of killing an Englishman. Juggling both cases, Billy finds himself in the middle of a simmering racial conflict between the black soldiers stationed in the area and their white counterparts, who resent the fact that the blacks have been warmly received by the English....Benn’s thoroughly researched exploration of segregation in the wartime armed services is revealing and sensitively handled. Another nice mix of human drama and WWII history.
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SOUVENIR is a novel of memory, identity and loss. Clay Brock is trying to forget. Forget a harsh childhood during the Depression, horrific combat in the frigid Ardennes Forest, and a terrible personal loss. But as he finds, as a young father in the 1960s and as an old man in a new and unfamiliar century, those moments of the past have not stood still.
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