The Billy Boyle World War II Mysteries follow the progress of that conflict in this, the sixth installment, albeit it with a different twist. It brings Billy his first murder case, either as a Boston detective (in his previous civilian life) or as “uncle” Ike’s special investigator. But the horrors of the war in Italy, and especially the Anzio beachhead invasion, provide the backdrop for the tale.
When two officers are found murdered with clues left behind, one a ten of hearts on the body of a lieutenant and a jack of hearts on that of a Captain, the signs of a possible serial killer bent on revenge against the brass emerge, causing concern back at Eisenhower’s Supreme Headquarters. So Billy is recalled from a three-day pass during which he met with his girlfriend in Switzerland and sent to Naples to begin an investigation into the crimes. Then he has to face the fact that his younger brother is arriving as a replacement in the very platoon in which he suspects the killer is a member.
The author, a librarian, writes with accuracy of the difficulties and what would today be called PTSD endured by the GIs, as well as the physical hardships and psychological manifestations of infantry warfare. His plotting is taut, descriptions graphic. All in all, the series just keeps on getting better and better. And the Second Front hasn’t yet been opened. The series has a long way to go, and that’s a good thing.