Mysterious Reviews Home

Rag and Bone

A Billy Boyle, World War II Mystery by James R. Benn

Rag and Bone by James R. Benn

Review: Military investigator Billy Boyle, a newly promoted 1st Lieutenant in the US Army, is sent to London to determine if the murder of a Soviet official was a random killing or a pre-meditated act of revenge in Rag and Bone, the fifth mystery in this series set during World War II by James R. Benn.

In the spring of 1943, thousands of bodies of Polish soldiers were discovered in mass graves deep inside the Katyn Forest in German-occupied Russia, each with their hands tied behind their back, a single bullet to the head. Eight months later, a Soviet officer based in London is killed in the same manner. Detective Inspector Horace Scutt of New Scotland Yard is certain he has the killer: Lt. Kazimierz, a member of the Polish government in exile, whose hatred for the Russians is widely known. Billy knows "Kaz" and doesn't believe he is guilty … but is put in an awkward position since the Russians are allies in the war against Germany and he must strive to uncover the truth without appearing to favor the prime suspect. Once in London, clues lead him to other potential suspects, including the leaders of an East End gang involved in the black market, any number of government spies, even another high ranking Russian official. Can Billy prove Kaz didn't kill the Russian in retaliation for the deaths of so many of his countrymen?

Benn seamlessly weaves a real event — the Katyn Massacre — into a fictional murder investigation, the result being yet another superb entry in this already outstanding series. The depictions of the people and places of London at war seem spot on, giving depth and richness to the story. Billy's investigation into the Russian officer's murder is far from linear, but the twists and turns it takes are not artificially introduced, but are written as a natural consequence of what he learns. Government politics and military politics play a role here and are well integrated. Both a mystery and an adventure story to be sure, there is also some gentle humor and displays of loyalty, comrades in arms, as it were. This series just keeps getting better, and Rag and Bone doesn't disappoint in any way.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Rag and Bone.

Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided an ARC of Rag and Bone for this review.

Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …

Mystery Book Review: Blood Alone by James R. BennBlood Alone
Soho Press (Hardcover), September 2008
ISBN-13: 9781569475164; ISBN-10: 1569475164

Mystery Book Review: Evil for Evil by James R. BennEvil for Evil
Soho Press (Hardcover), September 2009
ISBN-13: 9781569475935; ISBN-10: 1569475938

Location(s) referenced in Rag and Bone: London, England

— ♦ —

Rag and Bone by James R. Benn

Rag and Bone by A Billy Boyle, World War II Mystery

Publisher: Soho Press
Format: Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-1-56947-849-3
Publication Date:
List Price: $25.00

Buy the Book (purchase options)

— ♦ —

Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews

Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites