In the depths of World War II, Lt. Billy Boyle (A Mortal Terror, 2011, etc.) is tasked with solving the murder of an American priest in German-occupied Rome.
Who tasks him? His Uncle Ike, of course: Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower. The supreme allied commander apparently has an endless trove of thorny missions set aside for his nephew, all of which turn out to be survival tests. In Vatican City, Monsignor Edward Corrigan has been found stabbed to death, and FDR, whose close friend he was, wants an all-out investigation. So Roosevelt leans on Eisenhower, who leans on Billy. Though a homicide investigation is not exactly foreign territory to an ex–Boston cop, this latest assignment comes Billy’s way at a particularly complicated time. British spy Diana Seaton, the love of his life, has been taken by the Gestapo. Given their famously untender mercies, Billy isn’t sure that he should hope Diana’s alive, but he’s learned that she is, jailed somewhere in Rome. Monsignor Corrigan’s murderer is also somewhere in Rome. The upside is that now, Billy too has been deployed where the action is. The downside is how quickly he finds himself a pawn in a deadly geopolitical chess game. Still, Billy knows that if a pawn plods straight ahead long enough to reach the last rank, “it can be anything it wants.”
The gobs of back story have the unfortunate effect of nudging charming Billy off center stage. A shame.