MYSTERY

The Rest Is Silence: A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery

Soho Crime. Sept. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9781616952662. $26.95;ebk. ISBN 9781616952679. M
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Southwest England in 1944. Operation Tiger is underway, a dress rehearsal for D-Day. Nerves are understandably raw. When a corpse washes ashore, questions naturally arise: Is this simply a drowned local or a drunken sailor or could it be a German spy? In this ninth entry in Benn's series (after A Blind Goddess), plucky Billy Boyle, late of the Boston constabulary but now a member of General Eisenhower's (Uncle Ike's) Office of Special Investigations, is dispatched to investigate. The case of the dead body quickly gives way to a domestic drama played out at Ashcroft House where Billy is billeted. In residence are Sir Rupert, a former Indian civil servant, his two grown daughters and their husbands, plus a cadre of servants. Presiding over the menagerie is great-aunt Sylvia, she of the acerbic comment. When a possible heir (not only is he from below stairs but is also American-raised) arrives unexpectedly on the scene, it's not difficult to predict trouble on the stormy horizon. There are period details aplenty with cameo appearances by historical figures. A bit of cheeky fun is had when the author enlists the aid of a certain Mrs. Mallowan (aka, Agatha Christie), a local resident, during the course of the investigation.
VERDICT With its very smooth mix of mystery and historical references (with a dash of Downton Abbey), just about everybody will find something of interest in this fizzy retro cocktail.

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