Race Relations, WW II and Ike's Nephew

A Blind Goddess - James R. Benn

I had read an earlier Billy Boyle novel, so when this latest became available from NetGalley, I downloaded it and added it to my stack.

Captain Billy Boyle works for his uncle as a special investigator. It's World War II and Billy's former occupation as a Boston cop provide him with the skills necessary to look into unusual or sensitive crimes. He has a particular advantage in that his uncle happens to be General Eisenhower. 

His investigation this time at the behest of Major Cosgrove involves the death of a British accountant, but Cosgrove provides few details on why Boyle is even needed. A parallel investigation provides an opportunity for Benn to examine the extreme racism that existed between white and black troops in England during the War. An old friend, Eugene "Tree" Jackson, but one with whom he had had a mysterious falling out several years before, asks Boyle to look into the charge of murder leveled against his gunner. The black troops, welcomed by the English who had few problems with their daughters consorting with them, have been moved out of a popular town and into a backwater village with nothing to do. Tree is sure that his gunner could not have killed the constable he has been accused of killing. 

The local cops also don't think Tree is guilty and the fact that the body, Tom Eastman, a local constable, was found draped over the gravestone of his father, formerly a well-respected policeman, also pointed to someone with local knowledge. Tree had been having an affair with a white wife of a distinctly disagreeable man who beat her.

Benn uses the parallel investigations, including the search for a local girl and the body found of another young girl, to examine the rancorous relations between the American black and white troops. The British did not have the same history of malevolent race relations and black soldiers were welcomed into the local culture much to the consternation of many white Americans. 

This tension provides an interesting backdrop for Billy's investigation. After a rather slow start, the book finds its gear and becomes quite an interesting read.

My thanks to the publisher for this opportunity to read another volume in the Boyle series in exchange for an honest review.