Billy Boyle World War II Mysteries

Blood Alone: A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery, the third in a series by James R. Benn, is an adrenaline-paced mystery that successfully grabs your attention on the first page. The story is fast, tricky and stays in full-tilt throttle.

Billy comes to in a field hospital in Sicily (the first day of the Allied Invasion) with amnesia and has “concerned” visitors he quickly figures out want him dead. His memory comes back in bits and pieces as he meets up with Vito Genovese, Lucky Luciano and other famous American mobsters “assisting” with the American war effort. Then he recalls his uncle General Eisenhower has entrusted him with a secret mission—only, you guessed it—he can’t remember what it is!

In case you want to read the entire series in order, the AADL also has the first two books Billy Boyle and The First Wave: A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery.

(Audio) Fabulous Fiction First #135

Spending too much time on the road? Busy with chores? Couldn’t find your reading glasses? Those are just more reasons to get to some of these fabulous fiction firsts. They are on audio! Smart and savvy publishers are releasing the audio format simultaneously with the print edition. Here are two of my current favorites.

I was mesmerized from the first track by professional actor Lincoln Hoppe’s poetic delivery of The Gargoyle*, by first time novelist Andrew Davidson . This “intense tale of unconventional romance” between a severely-burned hedonistic porn star plotting suicide and a beautiful sculptress in the psych ward who remembered their tragic love affair 700 years ago at a German monastery. “There's pure magic here, a classic redemption story… Davidson's Gargoyle is a rare gem: completely engrossing, wholly unforgettable, and utterly transcendent.”

Fans of Victorian domestic drama (think Upstairs Downstairs) and Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series would find much to like in Gerri Brightwell’s FFF The Dark Lantern - “a suspenseful novel of mistaken identities, intriguing women, and dangerous deceptions."

* = Starred Reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #133

When the corpse of a teenager turns up in an area known as the borderlands between the North and South of Ireland, Inspector Benedict Devlin heads up an investigation whose only clues are a gold ring placed on the girl's finger and an old photograph.

“McGilloway's debut Borderlands* is marked by tangled, derivative plotting, exceptionally mature prose and a hero as charismatically volcanic in his own way as Louisiana's Dave Robicheaux”. ~Kirkus Reviews

“With a mood and investigative style reminiscent of Hakan Nesser’s Inspector Van Veeteren series…, this is an excellent new procedural series, especially notable for its realistic and sensitive portrayal of life in modern Ireland.” ~Booklist

For fans of Tana French, another noteworthy newcomer to the genre.

* = Starred Reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #131

If you liked Company of Liars (see FFF #130 blog), then you would like Jeri Westerson's FFF Veil of Lies : A Medieval Noir*.

Stripped of his rank and honor for plotting against Richard II, disgraced knight Crispin Guest uses his wits to eke out a living in fourteenth-century London, taking on an investigation on behalf of a reclusive merchant that draws him into the middle of a complex conspiracy involving dark secrets, international plots, a missing religious relic, and murder.

Looking for similar reads? Check out the Matthew Shardlake historical mystery series by C. J. Sansom; the Dame Frevisse series by Margaret Frazer; and the Matthew Bartholomew series by Susanna Gregory.

* = Starred Review

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #130

In 1348 England, as the plague ravages England, nine desperate strangers attempt to outrun the Black Death, revealing their individual stories as they travel away from the devastation, but one among them is hiding a far more sinister secret.

"British author Karen Maitland makes her U.S. debut with Company of Liars that tips its hat deeply to Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. "Executed with stunning skill and precision, her medieval world is full of the fantasy and mystery you'd expect from the genre — but it also parallels our own culture more than we might expect."

"Decidedly not your English teacher's Chaucer, but creepy, suspenseful, fun", with a "gasp-out-loud finale". English majors and historical mystery fans are not going to want to miss this one! And you would want to watch for FFF #131 !

Historical Mystery Series Fan Alert


Here is a mystery series perfect for curling up in a comfortable chair with mulled cider in your favorite 16th century outfit.

Fiona Buckley’s Ursula Blanchard mysteries take place in Queen Elizabeth I’s court and begin with Ursula’s introduction in To Shield the Queen. Here we meet the recently widowed Ursula as she is summoned to court by Elizabeth to become one of her attendants. Elizabeth, it seems, likes Ursula because her mother was nice to Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn. Ursula helps Elizabeth unravel the murder of Sir Robert Dudley’s wife.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #128

The Black Tower* is a FFF of a different sort. This is not Louis Bayard's first novel. It is not even his first historical novel.

The mystery behind the identity and survival of a man-child who might be the lost son of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette fuels this rich, layered and energetic historical, and introduces to mystery readers Eugene Francois Vidocq, a colorful, resourceful and notorious criminal who became the world's first modern detective.

In real life, Vidocq, a fugitive from French justice before offering his services as a police spy and informer, was later named the first chief of the Sûreté. He was credited with:

a. being the first to introduce record keeping, criminalistics, and the science of ballistics into police work;
b. the first to make plaster-of-paris casts of foot/shoe impressions;
c. the first to patent indelible ink and unalterable bond paper;
d. founding the first modern detective agency and credit bureau.

Cleverly weaving historical details with conspiracies; webs of murders and intrigue with humor and heart; real-life as well as fictional characters; this intelligent and engaging thriller will keep you guessing after the last page is turned.

* = Starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #127

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo* is the hot Swedish thriller (with 5.5 million copies sold across Europe) that features "one of the most original heroines to come along in years" - a young, prickly tattooed computer hacker, who teams up with an embattled and discredited journalist facing a jail term, to investigate the disappearance of an heiress 40 years ago. Talk about a cold case!!!

Debut novelist Steig Larsson who died of a heart attack in 2004, was an investigative journalist. Girl, (originally published as Män som hatar kvinnor = Men Who Hate Women) is the first of a 3-part series. Highly recommended. Readers might also like to check out another FFF Nordic mystery Redbreast by Jo Nesbo.

* = Starred Reviews

Stalking Susan

Julie Kramer has written a debut novel that is filled with wit, suspense and well developed characters.

Stalking Susan is about a television reporter named Riley Spartz who is recovering from the death of her husband when a longtime friend (and former policeman) drops a file in her lap while at a movie theater. The file contains two cold cases involving women named Susan. These women are being murdered on the same day, one year apart.

While investigating the Susan murders, Riley discovers the killer has moved personal effects from one victim to the next victim. As part of her well-thought out plan to draw the murder out, she stages an on-air act that could threaten her life and career.

The killer’s motives will surprise you!

What are you reading?

Watcha reading: Robin Agnew discovers 'The crazy School,' by Cornelia Read: Robin Agnew, with "The Crazy School, by Cornelia Read.Watcha reading: Robin Agnew discovers 'The crazy School,' by Cornelia Read: Robin Agnew, with "The Crazy School, by Cornelia Read.

If you're searching for a good mystery, Robin Agnew would like to make a couple of suggestions.

Robin is the vice president of the Kerrytown BookFest (which takes place this Sunday, Sept. 7). What's more, she and her husband Jamie own Aunt Agatha's, the peculiar book shop at 213 South Fourth Ave. that specializes in mystery and detective books.

They founded the store in 1992, after Jamie, also a bookworm, spent some time working for Borders, another book store that originated in Ann Arbor. The choice to sell mystery and detective fiction was natural, Robin said. She worked her way through Nancy Drew in elementary school, and in middle school she read every one of Agatha Christie's mystery novels. She's remained a mystery reader ever since.

Robin is usually on the lookout for new authors to share with other book lovers, and this year she's telling people about Cornelia Read, after being impressed with her first novel, A Field of Darkness. She emailed us last week that the book was "terrific," and the writing "beautiful."

Now, here's what she has to say about Cornelia Read's latest novel, The Crazy School:

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