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Billy Boyle, World War II US Army detective and ex-Boston cop, faces his toughest investigation yet: infiltrating enemy lines in France as the Allies invade Normandy.
May 1944: Captain Billy Boyle is convicted on spurious charges of black market dealings stripped of his officer’s rank, reduced to private, and sentenced to three months’ hard labor. But Billy is given an opportunity: if he takes on the incredibly dangerous mission of investigating a set of murders at the Allies’ safe house in the French town of Chaumont, he can avoid his punishment. Parachuted in as part of a three-man team the night before the Normandy invasion, he has very little time to find the killer’s identity and lead a group escape back to England, with a whole army of foes nipping at his heels.
Mystery fans may be disappointed that Benn's 11th Billy Boyle novel (after 2015's The White Ghost) is more a thriller than a whodunit, though the suspenseful story line, set on the eve of the Normandy invasion in 1944, will keep readers turning the pages. Boyle, a former Boston cop turned U.S. Army investigator who has been stationed in England for most of the war, is caught by surprise when MPs arrest him and he's charged with selling military property for a profit. Facing a court-martial, he has only an inexperienced young attorney to defend him. To avoid punishment, Boyle, who's demoted from captain to private, agrees to undertake a hazardous mission in France, whose success is threatened by a murderer. Only late in the action does he have a homicide to solve. The prose sometimes verges on the overwrought ("A tear made a tiny drop on the blank paper. The fibers soaked it up and it vanished, like a false identity long forgotten"), but Benn movingly depicts Nazi cruelties that Boyle and his comrades witness.