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BLOOD ALONE: A BILLY BOYLE WORLD WAR II MYSTERY
By James R. Benn
Soho, 2008 ($24.00)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
Billy Boyle, a Boston cop who thought working for his uncle would get him a plush job stateside, has already survived a bombing in London and numerous dangers in North Africa. That’s what can happen when your uncle’s name is Ike. Billy wakes up with a massive headache and a blank mind. He doesn’t know his name, or how he got hurt, or where he is, or who he is. His uniform has no markings, his dog tags are missing, and the soldier who brought him to the medical aid tent can only tell him he’d been rescued from an Italian soldier who was trying to kill him. Having no frame of reference, Billy has to trust in the kindness, and the information, of this stranger, Sgt. Roscoe. He knows two things: he is in Sicily, and he has a yellow silk handkerchief, with the letter L embroidered on it, stuffed deep in his jacket pocket. Sgt. Roscoe offers to take charge of it for him, but somehow Billy knows it is important, and refuses to part with it. As his memory slowly returns, he realizes that he has a mission to fulfill, and the hankie is vital to that mission.
Someone in the camp really wants that kerchief, and Billy finds himself under attack again, this time by American soldiers. With a little help from an old friend he escapes the camp and sets off across Italy to complete his mission. The handkerchief, it turns out, is connected to the Mafia, both the Sicilian and American branches. He has some knowledge of how the Mafia functioned in Boston and New York, and he has trouble believing the Sicilian version can be trusted, but he is willing to take that leap of faith if it means saving American and Italian lives.
This is another excellent book in an excellent series. Benn reveals a little-known part of World War II history, provides a detailed and poignant look at how the Sicilians were affected by the war, and spins another fine story about the life and times of Lt. Billy Boyle.
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