March, 1944. US Army lieutenant Billy Boyle, back in Englandafter a dangerous mission in Italy, is due for a little R&R—and apromotion. But the now-Captain Boyle doesn’t get to kick back and enjoy hisleisure 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 ofthe 617th Tank Destroyers, the battalion poised to makehistory by being the US Army’s first combatant all–African American company. Butmaking history isn’t easy, and the 617th faces racism at every turn. One ofTree’s men, a gunner named Angry Smith, has been arrested for a crime he almostcertainly 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 asksBilly if he’ll look into it.
But Billy can’t use any of his leave to investigatebecause British intelligence agent Major Cosgrove puts him on a bizarre anddelicate 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’tknow because Cosgrove won’t tell him. Billy is supposed to go to the villageand investigate the murder, but everything seems fishy—he’s not allowed tointerrogate certain key witnesses, and his friends and helpers keep beingwhisked away. Billy wonders whether Cosgrove even wants him to solve the murder.
The good news is the mysterious murder gives Billy anexcuse 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 morethan one innocent life.