The First Wave

Written by James R. Benn
Review by Rebecca Cantrell

Irreverent and sarcastic, young Billy Boyle arrives in French North Africa in 1942 to broker a peace between the Vichy France-appointed leaders and the invading American forces. Things quickly deteriorate and the young Irish American cop is soon investigating murders, checking out a gambling ring, dodging smugglers, and trying to reunite with his incarcerated lady love, a British spy. His allies are a Polish baron with a death wish, a British speedboat captain with a grudge, and his stern commanding officer. His enemies are well, just about everyone else, including French collaborators, well-armed Nazis heading north, suspicious American hospital personnel, and anyone who doesn’t like his style.

Billy’s dark sense of humor is infectious. He does his best to keep his head down and get through the war. But subtle political maneuvering on a large scale and petty acts of individual violence on a small scale make that impossible. A well-paced story with engaging characters wading through the blood, flies, and treachery of World War II North Africa.