March, 1944. US Army lieutenant Billy Boyle, back in England
after a dangerous mission in Italy, is due for a little R&R—and a
promotion. But the now-Captain Boyle doesn’t get to kick back and enjoy his
leisure time because two upsetting cases fall into his lap at once.
The first is a personal request from an estranged friend:
Sergeant Eugene “Tree” Jackson, who grew up with Billy in Boston, is part of
the 617th Tank Destroyers, the battalion poised to make
history by being the US Army’s first combatant all–African American company. But
making history isn’t easy, and the 617th faces racism at every turn. One of
Tree’s men, a gunner named Angry Smith, has been arrested for a crime he almost
certainly didn’t commit and faces the gallows if the real killer isn’t found.
Tree knows US top brass won’t care about justice in this instance and asks
Billy if he’ll look into it.
But Billy can’t use any of his leave to investigate
because British intelligence agent Major Cosgrove puts him on a bizarre and
delicate case. A British accountant has been murdered in an English village,
and he may or may not have had some connection with the US Army—Billy doesn’t
know because Cosgrove won’t tell him. Billy is supposed to go to the village
and investigate the murder, but everything seems fishy—he’s not allowed to
interrogate certain key witnesses, and his friends and helpers keep being
whisked away. Billy wonders whether Cosgrove even wants him to solve the murder.
The good news is the mysterious murder gives Billy an
excuse to spend time in and around the village where Tree and his unit are stationed.
If he’s lucky, maybe he can get to the bottom of both mysteries and save more
than one innocent life.
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