What's a 22-year-old Irish American cop who's never been out of Massachusetts before doing at Beardsley Hall, an English country house, having lunch with King Haakon of Norway? Billy Boyle himself wonders.
Back home in Southie, he'd barely made detective when war was declared. Unwilling to fight and perhaps die for England, he was relieved when his mother wangled a job for him on the staff of a general married to her distant cousin. But the general turns out to be Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose headquarters are in London, which is undergoing the Blitz. And Uncle Ike wants Billy to be his personal investigator.
Billy is dispatched to the seat of the Norwegian government in exile. Operation Jupiter, the impending invasion of Norway, is being planned, but it is feared that there is a German spy amongst the Norwegians. Billy doubts his own abilities, with good reason. A theft and two murders test his investigative powers, but Billy proves to be a better detective than he or anyone else expected.
©2006 James R. Benn (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"Benn crafts a crackling good adventure, with much flavorsome period color." (Kirkus Reviews)
trying to see the world with my ears
I'm not a usual consumer of the "boys own" genre, but I've listened to several in this series and will probably keep downloading, especially when on sale. The mysteries are pretty obvious and the writing pedestrian (with a eye for film options judging from the teleplay "action sequences"), but the dialogue sections are snappier and there is always something to learn about WWII - lesser known operations, medical advances, roles of women, etc. No striking amount of character development or well-portrayed emotional angst - but is that what we look for in an easy listen?
The voice of the protagonist is agreeable - working class Boston guy of his day, BUT the voice of the narrator is all wrong. These are easy listens without gratuitous sex or violence. I found each of the four I've listened slow starters but with stories that caught me after a couple of hours. The closest comparison I can think of is Barbara Cleverly's Joe Sandilands series (WWI and 'tween the wars).
I bought this first Billy Boyle book because the concept of a mystery in WWII intrigued me. Never heard of the author or the series. In this case, the gamble has paid off. My husband and I are enjoying it immensely. The author has both a good sense of humor and a sensitivity to the "common soldier" that is a winning combination. The mystery is good and most important, the characters are very likeable. Marc Vietor does a fine job narrating.... but we're in Minnesota... we think everyone has an accent but us. We will definitely be listening to the whole series.
Other reviewers have criticized harshly the narrator's accent. Unless you are a linguistics expert from Boston, don't let this criticism dissuade you from trying this fast-paced mystery. I liked the narrator and his use of accents quite well.
This story will keep your attention. It is not bound to be a classic, but the writing is much better than for some of the formulaic mysteries that are so popular these days. The setting during World War II makes for an interesting backdrop.
The title says it all -- a World War II mystery. If you are a fan of World War II, you may want to consider this book, since the author does incorporate a realistic plot device involving a diversionary invasion (Operation Jupiter) by the Allies to Norway. Straightforward plot, slight twist at the end, but fairly predictable ending. I did like the way the author portrayed the main character (Billy Boyle) as someone who was less-than-enthusiastic about being in uniform -- I thought that was a realistic touch, since not all GI's were gung-ho to be in the war effort. On the other hand, I found Boyle's connection to Dwight Eisenhower ("Uncle Ike") completely implausible. Narration was only adequate, in part because the narrator did not do women's voices very well, nor did he have a convincing English (and Norwegian!) accent, although his south Boston accent for the main character was okay.
Not to say that Marc Vietor isn't a good narrator- he may very well be- but I was literally cringing listening to him voice a character who was supposed to be from South Boston and finally switched to the real book to read the story. Vietor's accent goes in and out and even when it's 'in' it's more bad Kennedy impersonation than anyone actually from Boston. Maybe this doesn't bother those listening who aren't native New Englanders but I couldn't do it, and I'm a huge mystery and audio reader and rarely give up on an audio book if I like the story. In this case though I've got to say: get the book and read it instead and pick a different audio.
I completely agree with Colleen. I was dismayed to note that all books in the series were by the same narrator. As a New Englander it is distracting to battle the accent all through the story.
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