A Conversation with James R. Benn

James R. Benn

James R. Benn, the creator of the Billy Boyle series, agreed to answer a few questions about his wonderful WWII set novels.  His newest book, When Hell Struck Twelve, will be published in September.

Robin: How did you come up with the initial idea to have Billy be Eisenhower’s nephew?

Jim: I wanted to create a mechanism that would allow Billy Boyle to follow the course of the war in Europe (and beyond) and to be close to major events. Having him work out of Eisenhower’s headquarters gives him carte blanche to go anywhere I need him to go. The notion of his being Ike’s nephew provides the opportunity to humanize Eisenhower through their occasional interactions; it was also the mechanism to explain Billy’s ascendancy to the lofty realms of high command, since Uncle Ike wanted a trusted family member to run his investigations into low crimes in high places. The relationship also explains how a lowly lieutenant, later captain, can act with relative impunity within the chain of command. read more

Stephen Mack Jones: Lives Laid Away

This book came out around the time we closed the store and I didn’t read it at the time, being deep into comfort re-reading of Agatha Christie and Patricia Wentworth.  However I thought the first book, August Snow, was wonderful and a great and much needed injection of diversity and vitality to the private eye genre.  This second book is even better, more intense and focused.  I recently interviewed Stephen who mentioned Robert B. Parker as an influence, and I can sure see it in this tight, funny, fast moving story. read more