25.5.13

THE FIRST WAVE, by James Benn

2/series. Billy Boyle (Dwight Eisenhower's mythical cousin, ex-Boston detective, and all round decent guy) returns for his next adventure, this time in Algeria as the Allied forces land, and take the country from Vichy French control. From the first day, in the First Wave of soldiers to storm ashore, Billy's up to his ears in mayhem, most of it centered around penicillin, a brand-new drug being tested in the North African theatre. But the crime families - French, Sicilian, local - are set up and waiting, and the first batch goes missing just after it's been used to save the life of Kaz, Billy's friend. Diana Seaton, Billy's love, a British agent and instigator of the Algerian revolt, is rounded up and shipped off, a brutal Vichy thug in charge. For the rest of the book, murder and contraband war in his heart with the urgent need - shared by few in command - to rescue Diana. The old saying "war is hell" comes  brutally true for everyone involved.The eternal survivor's questions - why me? why didn't I die? what did I do to deserve to live? - are asked and answered repeatedly in this story. Benn - a WW II historian -  has hit the right tone and captured the emotions of the front line. I'm waiting for book #3. It's a 4+.