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Evil for Evil, a Billy Boyle World War II Mystery

This is the fourth in James R. Benn’s World War II series about Second Lt., Billy Boyle, and Irish-American Catholic from Boston who has fought World War II across Africa and Italy with Eisenhower and is assigned to the HQ staff. He and Ike are apparently shoe-string relatives, and Billy calls him Uncle Ike, affectionately. Before the war Boyle was a Boston cop.

The novel starts out in Eisenhower’s Jerusalem HQ getting ready to support the famous meeting between Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill in Tehran. Billy is also fretting over his girl friend, Diana’s, decision to accept another SOE special op behind enemy lines, the type of mission where a third or better never returned.

In frustration, Billy agrees to accept a mission in Northern Ireland helping the British and their Ulster allies find out who stole 50 Browning Automatic Rifles. This sets up a real conflict for Billy, since it is highly probable the IRA stole the guns and are planning to use them to create havoc in the North. The British believe that German infiltrators are working with the IRA and will use the weapons to topple the Ulster government and destabilize the neutrality of the Irish Republic. Since Billy’s family has always been staunchly pro-IRA, this assignment is somewhat painful for the Catholic Billy Boyle.

I very much appreciate what a fine job Benn has done weaving the complexities of the different viewpoints and belief systems among the Northern Irish Catholics and Protestants. He also skillfully weaves into the story bits and pieces of historic events that serve to move along the story line.

Readers will find this a fast-moving, action-packed thriller that sucks the reader into the action and makes the reader care about what happens to many of the characters, and certainly Boyle. I look forward to following him across Europe in Eisenhower’s command until the end of World War II and beyond.

Liz Nichols

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