A Blind Goddess
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.
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.
A Mortal Terror
The Wall Street Journal praises A MORTAL TERROR:
"...a fast-paced saga set in a period when the fate of civilization still hangs in the balance. As Boyle reflects after a fleeting assignation with his English girlfriend, an always-in-danger secret agent: 'We laughed, but I can't say we were happy...We slept, but could not rest.'"
Mystery Scene magazine reviews A MORTAL TERROR
"a thrilling, fast-paced book...Benn skillfully blends the mystery of the murders and the violence of the war into one fantastic, satisfying whole"
LA Examiner review of "A Mortal Terror"
"masterful...well-crafted...vivid...a great read"
Independent Mystery Booksellers Association:
IMBA names A MORTAL TERROR a "Killer Book"!
Library Journal gives A Mortal Terror a STARRED Review!
War has taken its toll on First Lt. Billy Boyle, and he’s not alone in his misery. It’s January 1944, and he’s trying to figure out why he has been dispatched to Naples in his sixth outing (after Rag and Bone). If you’re new to the series, Billy, a police detective back home, works for his Uncle Ike (yes, that Ike) as a military private investigator. Simply put, the general trusts Billy because he’s family. In this captivating episode, a serial killer from the inside (dubbed the Red Heart Killer because he leaves playing cards on his victims) is targeting Allied officers, moving systematically up the ranks, and it’s getting pretty tense in the officers’ quarters. Billy is under the gun to find the madman before he runs out of cards. VERDICT Jump right in with this winner of a historical detective entry; don’t worry if you haven’t read all the others (I hadn’t). Benn does a superb job of simultaneously capturing the personal anguish of war and creating a splendid adventure novel.
The September issue of Booklist says A MORTAL TERROR is:
"Solid wartime adventure, well grounded in historical detail, and boasting a challenging mystery to boot."
Rag And Bone
"…the novel’s scenes of London under siege are stark and poignant."—The New York Times Book Review
Evil For Evil
A twisting, turning plot drives Benn’s gripping fourth WWII mystery ... As an Irish-American sympathetic to the Republican cause, Billy struggles to remain impartial as he investigates the various factions on both sides of the Catholic-Protestant divide. Benn offers no easy answers in this rich mix of Irish history and wartime intrigue."
"... a sleuthing soldier risks life and limb to crack a baffling mystery...Billy's determination to learn the truth takes him into the heart of Sicily's complex criminal dynasty, as deadly as the encroaching German army. Another bracing cocktail of period action with a whodunit chaser from the increasingly authoritative Benn."
The First Wave
The pursuit of truth in wartime is never as dangerous as when it forces a choice between the greater good and the life of a loved one. For Billy Boyle, that choice is as hard as the unforgiving rocky landscape of Algeria where the American Army receives its baptism of fire in WWII.
Billy Boyle is the youngest member of the Boyle clan in the Boston Police Department. A tightly knit Irish family, their fierce loyalties extend little beyond each other, Ireland, and the police force where Billy’s father and uncles also serve. The year is 1941, and they have paved the way for Billy’s promotion to Detective through the time-honored traditions of politics and patronage. Then World War II breaks out. The family’s political connections secure Billy a commission and post with a distant relative of Mrs. Boyle’s, a general serving with the War Plans Department in Washington D.C. where Billy is to safely sit out the war. Unfortunately for the Boyles, that unknown general is Dwight David Eisenhower, who whisks Billy off to England when he is appointed Commander of U.S. forces in Europe . This is definitely not what Billy expected, nor is really qualified for. He must rely on his native wits to keep himself alive and avoid humiliating his family as he conducts his first investigation into the death of an official of the Norwegian government in exile.