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Evil for Evil: A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery Hardcover – September 1, 2009

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Evil for Evil: A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery + Rag and Bone: A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery + A Mortal Terror: A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery (Billy Boyle World War II Mysteries)
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Product Details

  • Series: Billy Boyle World War II Mystery
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Press; First Edition edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569475938
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569475935
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,033,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A twisting, turning plot drives Benn's gripping fourth WWII mystery to feature Lt. Billy Boyle (after 2008's Blood Alone). Billy, a former Boston cop and a nephew by marriage to General Eisenhower, on whose staff he serves, receives orders in late 1943 to look into a raid on a U.S. Army depot in Northern Ireland. The thieves took 50 new Browning automatic rifles plus 200,000 rounds of ammunition. A few miles from the depot, the body of a known IRA man was found shot in the back of the head with a pound note in his hand—the mark of an informer. Billy's military superiors suspect the Germans are supporting an IRA uprising. As an Irish-American whose family is 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. Author tour. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Praise for the Billy Boyle series:

“Benn continues to create fascinating behind-the-scenes mysteries from little-known facets of World War II history. . . . A fast-paced mix of action, adventure, and crime solving. . . . A solid series that keeps getting better.”—Booklist

“The Billy Boyle novels have quickly established themselves as best in class . . . historical mysteries that seamlessly blend fact with fiction, are replete with period details, [and] incorporate an engaging, intricate and suspenseful story.”—Mysterious Reviews

“A triple dose of excitement with a murder mystery within a spy thriller within a World War Two adventure story. . . . A ‘rattling good read.’”—Rhys Bowen

“A solid follow up to Benn’s first novel. . . . [I] look forward to his next.”—Robert B. Parker

“What a great read, full of action, humor and heart. . . . Equal parts spy thriller, war story and murder mystery, with a dollop of romance that’s never sweet, this is just a terrific book. More please!”—Louise Penny

More About the Author

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

In addition to the Billy Boyle series, two stand-alone books have been published by E-Reads. On Desperate Ground is a WWII thriller in the grand tradition of Jack Higgins, and Souvenir is an exploration of memory, identity, sorrow and loss during the lifetime of a veteran of the Second World War.

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, Billy Boyle voyages to his native 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).

Number six, titled A Mortal Terror, is set in southern Italy and within the Anzio Beachhead, 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.

Death's Door (#7) takes Billy into occupied Rome, to investigate the murder of an American monsignor within the walls of the neutral Vatican City. In the 8th installment, A Blind Goddess, Billy is back in England prior to D-Day and working to clear a black GI of murder charges.

The Rest is Silence (#9) will be released on 9/2/14 and features the disaster surrounding Operation Tiger, a D-Day training event at Slapton Sands in southwest England that went terribly wrong. I am currently at work on the tenth Billy Boyle novel, which will take him to distant waters in the South Pacfic.

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 worked in the library and information technology fields for over thirty-five years before retiring to work 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.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Mcqueen on August 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've read all the titles in this great series, and Evil for Evil might be James Benn's best yet in the Billy Boyle books. If you like mysteries with just the right touch of action, skillfully crafted, you'll love Benn's books. Evil for Evil combines the familiar World War II backdrop of previous Billy Boyle adventures with the complex tensions of a divided Ireland. A former Boston cop now working for General Ike, Billy Boyle has never faced a dilemma like this one: enemies abound, from Nazi commandos to crooked policemen to mysterious beautiful women, all confounding his efforts to find 50 stolen Browning Automatic Rifles. One strange twist after another keeps the action popping, but this is more than an action novel. Benn's Boyle books are true mysteries that keep the reader guessing right to the story's conclusion. I'm hooked on this series and can't wait to see what Billy gets into next.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By M. S. Butch VINE VOICE on September 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like other reviewers, I have read all of the Billy Boyle mysteries, and I look forward to the next with anticipation.
"Evil for Evil" has the most complex plot of the series so far, and enough characters and conflicting loyalties that I almost had to make myself a cheat sheet. The author juggles the characters, the plot, the dialogue, the action scenes, seemingly effortlessly.

Others have described the story in detail, so I'll be brief. It is 1943, and Billy Boyle, former South Boston cop, Army lieutenant, and special investigator to General Eisenhower, is sent to Ireland to investigate the theft of a shipment of heavy guns. The Allies are concerned that the stolen guns will somehow be used to try to create enough chaos in Ireland (between Ulster and independent Eire) to hamper the war effort and siphon off troops from the European theater.

Billy is a wonderful character - Benn manages to convey his youth and generally sunny disposition in his thoughts. From book to book we see him maturing but still maintaining his informality and using his brains. In "Evil for Evil" he is forced for the first time to weigh the loyalties he was taught from infancy by his Irish Catholic family against the reality of life in Protestant Ulster, and to work with British police, the British army, and British spies to fulfill his mission. The contrast between the romanticised Ireland cherished by American descendants of Irish immigrants and the actual Ireland torn apart by decades of guerilla warfare becomes obvious.

Who are the "good guys" and who are the "bad guys" in this story? Every character has suffered heartbreak and injustice inflicted by the "other side". Each has reached his or her own conclusion of how to deal with it, and their actions intertwine to build the story.

For other readers of the series, there is very little of Diana, and no sighting of Kaz, so we will just have to keep waiting for them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on January 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
An enemy right next door may prove difficult for an already difficult situation. "Evil for Evil" follows Billy Boyle, as he is sent to Northern Ireland to potentially put a wrench in a plot that would allow the separate country to join the Axis powers. A tall order for a southern boy, James R. Benn crafts a fine story using much of the trivia of history in his tale. "Evil for Evil" is a top pick and highly recommended read that mystery lovers will simply relish.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By jrs3155 on September 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Benn once again spins a tale from a theater of WWII that is off the beaten track. It seems only fitting that "Uncle" Ike would send Billy Boyle off to Ireland to investigate the theft of armaments and ammo from a base there. Billy's cop background helps him dutifully follow up the clues and leads to solve this mystery. Billy's time in Ireland gives him a lot to think about after growing up in a family that comes down on one side of the Irish debate, he reflects at one point that he's not sure he likes knowing both sides of this subject. Although I missed Kaz and a couple other familiar faces, I really enjoyed this Boyle story.
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Format: Hardcover
Billy Boyle, from South Boston, a former Boston cop from Southie, is now a second lieutenant assigned to the staff of his "courtesy uncle," General Dwight D. Eisenhower, to whom he is distantly related through Mamie Eisenhower. Assigned to the Office of Special Investigations, Billy does private investigations for the general as they move throughout the European theatre during World War II. In this novel Billy Boyle returns to his "home" in Ireland. Fifty Browning assault rifles have been stolen from a U. S. Army depot in Northern Ireland, along with more than two hundred thousand rounds of ammunition. The rifles are desperately needed by the allies, and the army believes that the rifles have been stolen by the IRA, which has already made several well-documented contacts with Germany. Promising to support Germany against the British in exchange for IRA control of Ireland and its reunification after the war, the IRA sees the war as an opportunity to create havoc and nullify the agreements which have resulted in six northern counties of their island being ruled by England.

The assignment is a particular challenge to Billy, a Catholic. Two generations previously, his grandfather emigrated to Boston from County Roscommon, and Billy has been brought up to believe that the IRA are freedom fighters against the British and their Protestant minions in Ulster. In Northern Ireland, however, he discovers that life is far more complex than he ever dreamed. Assigned to work with Hugh Carrick, an Orangeman who is district inspector of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Billy also works with the British general staff, the British Auxiliary Territorial Service, MI-5, the U. S. Army and its MPs, and local constables from several villages.
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