Saturday, December 01, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The First Wave by James R. Benn

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of The First Wave by James R. Benn. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.The First Wave by James R. Benn

The First Wave by James R. Benn
A Billy Boyle Mystery

Soho Crime (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-56947-471-0 (1569474710)
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-471-6 (9781569474716)
Publication Date: September 2007
List Price: $24.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): Lt. Billy Boyle reluctantly accompanies Major Samuel Harding, his boss, in the first boat to land on the shores of Algeria during the Allied invasion. Their task is to arrange the surrender of the Vichy French forces. But there is dissension between the regular army, the local militia and DeGaulle’s Free French. American black marketeers in league with the enemy divert medical supplies to the Casbah, leading to multiple murders that Billy must solve while trying to rescue the girl he loves, a captured British spy.

Review: Billy Boyle lands on the shores of Algeria during the Allied invasion and finds himself investigating black market murders in The First Wave, the second mystery in this series by James R. Benn.

Lt. Billy Boyle is a third-generation cop from Boston who is currently serving as a military investigator under Maj. Sam Harding in the US Army in 1942. Harding is assigned to liberate Algeria from the Vichy Regime, a client state of Nazi Germany, and Billy accompanies him on the first boat to land on the shores of the African nation. Setting up office in a base hospital, the officers are faced with a number of immediate non-combat problems. A rebel group has captured a group of college students who were in Algeria to protest the war and medical supplies are being stolen and sold on the black market which may also be linked to the murders of several soldiers. Billy's assignment is to find the location of the rebel group as well as to shut down the black market before anyone else is killed.

The combination of fact and fiction is often a compelling mix, especially in a mystery. As Billy is part of the first wave to land on Algeria, he wonders if the French will regard the Americans as invaders or liberators. Historically accurate, this conflict contributes to the suspense of the story and, not coincidentally, adds to the list of suspects. Who can Billy trust in this occupied foreign land?

Billy goes about his assignment with a positive attitude and good humor despite being knocked around a bit. He's a very well drawn character. The mystery here is cleverly conceived with a number of unexpected twists and turns in a multi-faceted plot.

Despite the striking and colorful book cover, The First Wave feels more like a classic noir-ish WWII suspense thriller. Billy's escapades in Algeria are an exciting addition to this well-written series.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of The First Wave and to Soho Press for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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