WWII soldier Billy Boyle turns sleuth again to solve a string of murders in north Africa.
As American forces prepare to liberate Algeria in late 1942, jaunty narrator Boyle, now a lieutenant, is working as an aide to gruff Major Samuel Harding. The murky political allegiances of the Vichy government make the duo temporary prisoners of the Germans. In his previous adventure (Billy Boyle, 2006), Boyle, fresh from walking a beat as a Beantown cop, threw a series of incomplete passes at British officer Daphne Seaton, who was later killed. Now his significant other is Daphne’s sister Diana, a British spy he sees in Algeria for just an instant. Ebullient Polish native Piotr Augustus Kazimierz, aka Kaz, makes a brash return as a sidekick who’s gravely injured by Boyle’s daring escape plan. The game changes radically when French lieutenant Georges Dupree’s kid brother Jerome is murdered. The prime suspect is Vichy Captain Villard, who earlier impugned the elder Dupree’s loyalty and integrity. Boyle is tasked with solving the murder. His probe combines conventional sleuthing and crackerjack adventure as the body count rises—the American Sergeant Joe Casselli, for starters—and the clock runs down on Boyle’s apparently imprisoned ladylove Diana.
Benn’s wide-eyed hero retains his appealing earnestness and infectious spirit, and his escapade is refreshingly free of camp.