Evil for Evil

Written by James R. Benn
Review by Ken Kreckel

In this fourth installment of the Billy Boyle World War II mysteries, the intrepid lieutenant from South Boston is sent by General Eisenhower to investigate the disappearance of fifty Browning automatic rifles from a U.S. Army depot in Northern Ireland. This assignment places him in the middle of a chaotic mix of IRA terrorism, Ulster baked reprisals, MI-5 skullduggery, and possible German infiltrators, with a dose of good old fashioned Army rear echelon embezzlement to boot. Billy handles all of this with his usual aplomb, keeping his Irish sympathies at bay, even while being forced to question his most basic assumptions about good and evil in this almost mythic land of his forefathers.

This is a very good mystery, set in a credibly presented Ireland at the time of World War II. Benn gets his characters right, and manages to pass along some history along the way, without letting any of it get in the way of a compelling story. The basics are indeed rooted in facts, although the author takes those facts a bit further than what actually really happened. Still his projections are plausible. As ever, the clever device of Boyle being a sort of handyman on Eisenhower’s staff allows the telling of almost any story related to the war, without unduly hampering reality. This is first and foremost a mystery, although due to its setting, one with more than the usual sense of adventure. Anyone who loves mysteries and has more than a passing interest in the era of World War II will not be disappointed.