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Monday, March 24, 2014

Audio Book Review: A Blind Goddess by James R. Benn

This is an engaging double mystery with very interesting racial history from WWII.
A Blind Goddess
Author: James R. Benn
Narrator: Peter Berkrot
The Billy Boyle World War II Mysteries, book 8
Length 10.2 hrs
2014 by Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Genre: World War II Mystery
My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0

March, 1944. US Army Lieutenant Billy Boyle, back in England after a dangerous mission in Italy, is due for a little R&R—and a promotion. But the now-Captain Boyle doesn’t get to kick back and enjoy his leisure time because two upsetting cases fall into his lap at once.
The first is a personal request from an estranged friend: Sergeant Eugene “Tree” Jackson, who grew up with Billy in Boston, is part of the 617th Tank Destroyers, the battalion poised to make history by being the US Army’s first combatant all–African American company. But making history isn’t easy, and the 617th faces racism at every turn. One of Tree’s men, a gunner named Angry Smith, has been arrested for a crime he almost certainly didn’t commit and faces the gallows if the real killer isn’t found. Tree knows US top brass won’t care about justice in this instance and asks Billy if he’ll look into it.
...© 2013 by James R. Benn

US Army Lieutenant Billy Boyle is a special investigator working through orders sometimes issued by his “cousin” General Ike Eisenhower. He is in between assignments planning a little vacation with his girlfriend. He is contacted by an estranged childhood friend, Sergeant Eugene “Tree” Jackson. Tree wants Billy to investigate a murder that his gunner, Angry Smith, has been charged with. Tree and Angry are part of the first combatant all African American company and there is a great deal of American racism that harasses them even though the Europeans have accepted the blacks as polite and mannerly forces in their restricted community.

Billy and his Polish co-hort, Caz, agree to look into the circumstances regarding Angry’s arrest but then they are given an assignment in a nearby town. A young man has been killed at a boarding house that is operated by a German couple who are apparently assets of the allied forces. Billy has been called in as the primary suspect is an American soldier and they powers that be want special handling for the case.

Billy and Caz, along with help from local authorities, persistently pursue minimal leads on both cases. A local girl has also gone missing and Billy begins to believe that there is a connection. There is wonderful foot work and detail to the investigation that made this very interesting. At the same time there is a fascinating, if disturbing, picture of the tragedies of racism that have followed Tree all his life, from his childhood days with Billy, to his army days in the prejudiced south and now continuing from the white army companies.

The unraveling of the murders is well done, including an action chase when one of the murderers tries to escape and a tense show-down when the other is discovered. This is a very good blend of mystery and history on a sensitive topic. Apparently there are other Billy Boyle mysteries and I think they would be good stories that any mystery fan and WWII history fan would enjoy.

Audio Notes: The narrator, Peter Berkrot, does a good job with the various accents although it took just a little time to get used to the Boston accent for Billy, who is the primary character. Not only did Mr. Berkrot do a good job with the voices but also with the emotional inflections. This is the sort of story I might not read in print but found entertaining to listen too.

I received this title through Audiobook Jukebox.

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