Monday, March 31, 2014

Blood Alone by James R. Benn

First Sentence: I was hot.

If you’re looking for a gentle entry into a story, you won’t find it here. Benn has both his character, and his reader fully involved from the beginning. There is an excellent setup to the crime early in the story. However, even with action that is practically non-stop, Benn manages to include an excellent plot twist.

Each of the Billy Boyle books takes the reader to a different location with a basis on an event in history. It’s nice to have a completely involving story with a bit of education rolled in. Benn’s voice is strong and provides evocative descriptions…”Yellow flowers were clipped by flying lead, scattering bouquets over the dead and dying.”

It is the character of Billy who truly drives the story and Benn skillfully provides the reader with details of Billy’s background. He is also our moral center. His realization regarding the events of his recent past, the effects of the ware, backbreaking labor and poverty on the poor are powerfully expressed, while Benn points out one of the tragic facts of history. “Blood alone moves the wheels of history,” Sciafani quoted [said by Mussolini]. An element that makes the story particularly interesting is Billy’s amnesia. Yet, in spite of it, it demonstrates that he is capable and a survivor, as well as caring and clever. “When I was trying to figure out who I was, I ran into a Sicilian doctor. He told me about amnesia and said I was the most fortunate of men because I was about to discover who I was. He told me some philosopher once said the unexamined life is not worth living, and that I was being given the opportunity to examine mine.”

“Blood Alone” is a very good blending of fiction and actual history with excellent characters and great action.

BLOOD ALONE (Hist Mys-Billy Boyle-Italy-WWII) – VG
James R. Benn – 3rd in series
SOHO, 2008

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