This was my first Billy Boyle mystery and it certainly didn’t disappoint! Classic sleuthing, from the days when honor was a duty. WWII offers the perfect menacing backdrop for the murders and racial injustice. I’m hooked!
March, 1944: US Army Lieutenant Billy Boyle, back in England after a dangerous mission in Italy, is due for a little R&R, and also a promotion. But the now-Captain Boyle doesn't get to kick back and enjoy his leisure time because two upsetting cases fall into his lap at once.
The first is a personal request from an estranged friend: Sergeant Eugene "Tree" Jackson, who grew up with Billy in Boston, is part of the 617th Tank Destroyers, the all-African American battalion poised to make history by being the US Army's first combatant African American company. But making history isn't easy, and the 617 faces racism at every turn. One of Tree's men, a gunner named Angry Smith, has been arrested for a crime he almost certainly didn't commit, and faces the gallows if the real killer isn't found. Tree knows US top brass won't care about justice in this instance, and asks Billy if he'll look into it.
But Billy can't use any of his leave to investigate, because British intelligence agent Major Cosgrove puts him on a bizarre and delicate case. A British accountant has been murdered in an English village, and he may or may not have had some connection with the US Army—Billy doesn't know, because Cosgrove won't tell him. Billy is supposed to go into the village and investigate the murder, but everything seems fishy—he's not allowed to interrogate certain key witnesses, and his friends and helpers keep being whisked away. Billy is confused about whether Cosgrove even wants him to solve the murder, and why.
The good news is the mysterious murder gives Billy an excuse to spend time in and around the village where Tree and his unit are stationed. If he's lucky, maybe he can get to the bottom of both mysteries—and save more than one innocent life.
About the Author
James R. Benn is the author of the Billy Boyle World War II mysteries. The debut, Billy Boyle, was named one of the top five mysteries of 2006 by Book Sense and was a Dilys Award nominee. Subsequent books have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, and been listed as the Bookpage Mystery of the Month. Two have been tagged as a "Killer Book" by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. A librarian for many years, Benn lives in Hadlyme, Connecticut, with his wife, Deborah Mandel.
Praise for A Blind Goddess
"One of Mr. Benn's best books of the series...A pleasure to read." —Seattle Post
[Benn] achieves an impressive authenticity of time and place...without sacrificing a sense of underlying urgency, and it’s his engaging characters, complex whodunit(s), and subtle humor that will sustain the more traditional mystery reader. Those who are first initiated to Billy Boyle with A Blind Goddess will find it hard to resist the desire to revisit the author’s earlier offerings.” —Examiner.com
"Pervasive racism in the U.S. Army during WWII frames Benn’s excellent eighth Billy Boyle whodunit...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." —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“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.” —Weirs Times
“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.” —Booklist
"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." —Library Journal
“James Benn has written a gripping and entertaining mystery (think early Ken Follett), but also — and perhaps just as importantly—he realistically and sensitively explores the rarely discussed race relations and power struggles in the U.S. Armed Forces in World War II Britain. A thrilling read.” —Susan Elia MacNeal, author of His Majesty’s Hope and the Maggie Hope mystery series
“This series is wonderful at setting the mystery amid a background of lesser known aspects of WWII...Can't wait for number nine!” —Anne K. McMahon, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
"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." —Crimespree
"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." —Deadly Pleasures
“A Blind Goddess is a gripping, exciting entry in this outstanding series…. The disparate storylines are clever and credible in their setup and execution, resulting in a superior mystery that fans of the series will thoroughly enjoy.” —Mysterious Reviews
“James R. Benn is getting even better…. [A Blind Goddess] is all a big bag of delicious intrigue if you love World War II-era stories. Definitely a series you should look into.” —Bookgasm
“A good and disturbing read. Highly recommended.” —I Love a Mystery
“This eighth Billy Boyle mystery has already been lauded as one of the best novels in the series. Not only is it a gripping and exciting suspense story, but James Benn also explores the issue of race, which did present a problem in the US military at the time.” —Book Loons
Praise for the Billy Boyle series:
"Spirited wartime storytelling." —The New York Times Book Review
"A fast-paced saga set in a period when the fate of civilization still hangs in the balance." —Wall Street Journal
"Captivating.... Benn does a superb job of simultaneously capturing the personal anguish of war and creating a splendid adventure novel." —Library Journal, Starred Review
"Benn's Billy Boyle mysteries are always entertaining, filled with riveting characters, and beautifully plotted stories." —Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"The Billy Boyle, World War II mysteries are among the most consistently well written and researched crime novels published today, and are highly recommended." —Mysterious Reviews
"If you like WWII mysteries, here is a must-have series." —Bookgasm