First Sentence: Light is faster than sound.
Captain Billy Boyle and Lt. Piotr “Kaz” Kazimierz are headed to Switzerland but crash-land in France, meeting up with Anton Lasho, a Sinti (Gypsy) determined to kill every German he meets. The three do make it across the border and connect with members of the OSS. Their task? Investigate Swiss banks that are laundering looted Nazi gold.
From the very start, there is high drama and fast action, and it’s great. One feels the anxiety of the characters as we are immediately introduced to Billy, “Kaz” and Anton Lasko, who is new to us but who proves to be such a good character, one wouldn’t mind seeing him in the future. Billy and Kaz are truly wonderful characters. One can very much appreciate the way in which Benn sprinkles information on their backgrounds throughout the story. It is through the trio that Benn creates such painful, yet honest scenes that they touch one’s emotions. That’s the mark of a truly fine writer.
Benn has an excellent voice. He includes the vernacular of the 1940’s—“You’re all packing, I assume” … “Can you get us shoulder holsters?” I asked. “It’s clumsy carrying these six-shooters around in a coat pocket.”—without overdoing it. He includes just the right touch of wry humor—“All we had to do was avoid imprisonment and long-range rifle fire. All in a day’s work.”
This may be Benn’s most complex book so far. It is filled with historical information. One may find it makes them quite angry. Not toward the author, but because of the information which one may not have previously known, yet is important to learn. And that’s what makes this a particularly good book.
“The Devouring” is a really well-done tale of duplicity, stolen gold, and a country that wasn't quite as neutral as we thought.
THE DEVOURING (Hist Mys-Lt. Billy Boyle-France/Switzerland- WWII) – VG
Benn, James R. – 12th in series
Soho Crime – Sept 2017