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Synopsis: Two officers from the American troops stationed in Caserta, Italy, not far from Naples, have been found murdered. The MOs are completely different, and it seems like the officers had no connection to each other, but one frightening fact links the murders: each body was discovered with a single playing card: the lieutenant, the ten of hearts; the captain, the jack of hearts. The message seems to be clear: if the murderer isn't apprehended, the higher ranks will be next. Billy is sent to Italy for the investigation, which grows increasingly sinister. But he has other things on his mind, too. His girlfriend, Diana, is on a very dangerous spy mission, and Billy doesn't know when--or if--he'll see her again. To make matters worse, Billy's just learned that his baby brother, Danny, is being sent to Europe as an infantry replacement, an incredibly dangerous assignment. And all around him, he sees GIs suffering from combat fatigue preparing for another battle. As the invasion at Anzio begins, Billy needs to keep a cool head amid fear and terror as the killer calculates his next moves.
Author One-on-One: James R. Benn and Hank Phillippi Ryan
Hank Phillippi Ryan: Quick! Elevator pitch. What's your new book about?
James R. Benn: The sacrifices that loyalty demands. For Billy, it’s personal: his kid brother experiences war as an infantry replacement, and he has to deal with his natural protective instinct. For other characters, the sacrifices are life, limb, and spirit as GIs who have been in battle for months are thrown into the ill-conceived Anzio invasion, while a murderer stalks American officers.
Two officers from troops stationed near Naples, Italy, have been found dead. The first was a lieutenant, found behind a supply tent with his neck snapped. The body of a captain, strangled on the same night, was left in an elegant garden. One frightening fact links the murders: each body was discovered with a single playing card. The ten of hearts with the lieutenant; the jack of hearts with the captain.
Ryan: Oh, tell me more!
Benn: The fear among officers at headquarters is that a crazed killer is working on a royal flush, with a general targeted as the ace of hearts. Billy is sent to stop the murders before they go any further and interfere with the upcoming invasion south of Rome. But he has more to worry about; his kid brother Danny has been drafted to the platoon Billy is investigating. While Billy knows his brother wants to prove himself, he's also well aware that the lifespan of a front-line infantry replacement is measured in days or even hours of combat. With the added pressure of a murderer lurking nearby, Billy has to find a way to protect Danny's life, a daunting prospect on the battleground of the Anzio Beachhead.
Ryan: So what about Billy Boyle? Where did you first "meet" him? How did you come to know him? What about him endears him to you?
Benn: I had a hint of Billy in 1972 when I watched The Godfather. In the opening wedding scene, which takes place in 1945, Michael is in his Marine uniform, a highly decorated veteran, and he’s practically ignored. The Corleone family didn’t value service to country, only family, and I wondered, what would it have been like if Sonny was the one who had to go into the service? I promptly did nothing with that idea for thirty years. When I was ready, it was the Boston Irish, not Sicilians, who gave birth to Billy. He arrived one day, fully formed and named, with a complete backstory. Instead of the Mafia, his family is organized around the Irish Republican Army and Boston Police Department, where promotions are handed out based on connections and family loyalties. Just as he was made Detective, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and Billy had to go to war. As far as the Boyles viewed things, no one had attacked Boston or Ireland; they saw no value in another war to help rescue the hated British Empire. They cook up a plan to have him serve out the war safely in Washington DC on the staff of a distant relative, an unknown general named Eisenhower. Things don't work out the way they planned.
Ryan: Love it. And it’s always so revealing to hear where the first nugget of an idea comes from. And why your brain plucks it out of the universe, and understands instantly that it’s the beginning of everything. I get goose bumps, sometimes, thinking of it. This book turned out to be about combat fatigue, right? Why did you choose that element?
Benn: Because of a friend who's a state trooper. He was involved in two shootings, and was forced to kill his assailant each time. I saw how bravely he dealt with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and that got me interested in what things were like for servicemen during World War II. It seems that in every war--starting with the Civil War, when it was called Soldier's Heart--we learn about the effects of violence on soldiers and then promptly forget about it before the next war. As late as 1944, army divisions in Italy did not have a single psychiatrist on their medical staffs. Today, we see the same struggles with PTSD in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lately with the proper diagnosis of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury from roadside bomb concussions.
Ryan: This is book six in your Billy Boyle series. Is it necessary to read them in order? Why? How has Billy changed over the books?
Benn: No, it isn't necessary. There is a narrative arc concerning Billy and his English lover Diana Seaton, but that doesn't interfere with reading them out of order. Each book stands alone in terms of the story.I think Billy has changed, in that the war has hardened him. He's suffered, and I think he's lost some of the innocence he had in the first book. But that's natural and quite necessary. This isn't Hogan's Heroes.
Ryan: What do you want your readers to understand or realize when they finish the last chapter?
Benn: The price is high. And thank God we have men and women who are willing to pay it. That evil is all around us and hides within the places where fear causes us to look away. And that Billy has paid a price for his decision--but wait, I don't want to give that part away!
Title: A Mortal Terror -
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Publication Date: 2011
Book Condition: BRAND NEW
Book Description No binding. Condition: Good. Former library audio book. Will have library markings and stickers and possibly no inserts. Plays perfectly. audio book. Seller Inventory # 012-56DA-XX06
Book Description Blackstone Audiobooks, 2011. Audio CD. Condition: Good. 9 AUDIO CDs withdrawn from the library collection. Some library marking. We will polish the Audio CDs for smooth listening. You will receive a good set. Enjoy this reliable AUDIO CD performance. Audio Book. Seller Inventory # CELEBRATECDS19
Book Description Sound Library, 2011. Audio CD. Condition: Good. Unabridged. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. May not contain Access Codes or Supplements. May be ex-library. Shipping & Handling by region. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 079278054X