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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History of Irish Noir...
Stuart Neville's debut, 'The Twelve', was one of my favourite novels of 2009. The follow-up, 'Collusion', was good, although my enjoyment was lessened, perhaps unreasonably, because I listened to the audiobook version and was pulled out of the action by the narrator's emphasis of the 'mo' in Ormeau Road (I realise only some from Northern Ireland may share this, and it...
Published 23 months ago by Domino

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nazis in Ireland after the war
This is in line with a Jack Higgins romp - a good easy read when being entertained without having to dig into the deep recess of the mind to find a solution.

What it did provoke was an interest into Ireland at its part in accepting ex Nazis after the second world war - I will be looking to follow up with further factual reading on the subject.
Published 17 months ago by N. Sutcliffe


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History of Irish Noir..., 5 Jan 2013
This review is from: Ratlines (Paperback)
Stuart Neville's debut, 'The Twelve', was one of my favourite novels of 2009. The follow-up, 'Collusion', was good, although my enjoyment was lessened, perhaps unreasonably, because I listened to the audiobook version and was pulled out of the action by the narrator's emphasis of the 'mo' in Ormeau Road (I realise only some from Northern Ireland may share this, and it might only be me). 'Stolen Souls' was a competent thriller but did not stand out from the crowd and did not deliver on the promise of Neville's first two books. His new novel, 'Ratlines', not only delivers, it is Neville's best work to date.

Set in 1963 Ireland, 'Ratlines' tells the story of what might have happened in the Republic's dealings with Nazi's who fled Germany in the aftermath of WWII. Neville's fictional Lieutenant Albert Ryan comes up against a real-life rogues gallery including a young Charles Haughey, the future controversial Taoiseach, and Otto Skorzeny, SS 'hero' of the commando raid to free Mussolini from captivity.

Stuart Neville is a first class plotter and the story moves quickly with plenty of action and a thrilling climax worthy of he genre but the book does so much more. As an outsider, a Protestant in the largely Roman Catholic Eire, an Irishman who fought for 'the Brits' in WWII (or the Emergency as it was referred to by many in neutral Ireland), Ryan's interactions with other characters in the story allow Neville to touch on issues such as how Ireland's relationship with the old enemy, Britain, informed it's attitude to almost everything else - the war, the Nazis. That is not to suggest that Neville ever lets his research get in the way if a good story. He does not, but there is much here that opens the way to the reader's own exploration of these issues, if so minded. If not, there is simply a very good historical thriller, very well written.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark deeds..., 3 Jan 2013
By 
Raven (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Ratlines (Kindle Edition)
Stuart Neville more than proves his versatility as a writer with his new historical standalone novel, `Ratlines'. By carefully blending a mix of authentic historical characters along with fictional protagonists, Neville brings to life a dark period of Irish history that has been rarely addressed in fiction before, and weaves a tale of political duplicity, betrayal and murder that grips the reader from outset.

Set in 1960`s Ireland with a visit from President Kennedy on the horizon, there comes to light a series of murders of individuals tainted by their former lives as Nazis or as Nazi collaborators who have sought sanctuary in Ireland, either as permanent residence or as a stop off point in their fleeing to South America. Using the `ratlines', a network of escape routes, their flight to Ireland has remained largely unaffected until their identities become known and the systematic killing begins. Otto Skorzeny, a former shining light in the Nazi regime, finds himself in the spotlight of the killers, but drawing on his close affiliation with Justice Minister, Charles Haughey, and Skorzeny's integral part in the ratlines, seeks to evade their clutches. Enter our hero Lieutenant Albert Drake of the Directorate of Intelligence, assigned to uncover the killers and to protect and defend this representative of a pernicious regime, that Ryan himself had fought against as one of the 100,000 or so, Irishmen that fought for Britain in World War II. Ryan, whose own parents are persecuted for the perceived nationalistic betrayal of his fighting for the British, uncovers a shadowy world of dubious morality, ultimately fuelled by a no more complex motivation than greed. As the plot progesses, Ryan finds himself drawn into his own moral maze, an unwitting pawn working at the behest of powerful politicos and manipulated by those seemingly seeking retribution for crimes of the past.

The plotting is absolutely first class throughout and with the attention to historical detail, this book opened up to me a dark period of Irish history that I was entirely unfamiliar with, as well as referencing the role of individuals from Breton during the war and their collaboration with the Nazis in their determined seeking of independence from France, which in turn leads to their forced flight to the sanctuary of Ireland. Through Ryan, we observe the ambivalent response to `The Emergency' as Ireland named World War II, and the continuing persecution of those Irishmen who defied the genrally held consensus of opinion that Irish citizens should not have fought on the side of the British. Using the theme of the ratlines, it becomes clear how some of the most evil figures of the Nazi regime had escaped justice and how individuals like the scheming, Skorzeny inveigled their way into the favour of some less than moralistic political figures in Ireland. Add into the mix, an assured and pacy plotline that carries the reader along effortlessly as these treacherous games of betrayal and murder unfold, and what we have is a novel that quickly holds the reader's attention.

Other reviewers have queried a perceived lack of deep characterisation in this novel, but I would take issue with this, observing that the main protagonists are perfectly well-drawn and that their essential human qualities, and morals, or conversely lack of, moral stature are in evidence throughout. This is the not the type of book that needs a complex exploration of the human condition, as their motivations for their own behaviours and their manipulation of others, flows easily from the the central narrative and the direction of the plotting. Indeed, the characterisation was to me, perfectly executed giving no qualms to me as a reader as to my own responses to the array of, at times, morally dubious characters on display. I liked the way that Neville manipulates the reader slightly by making some characters that every fibre of your being is telling you to hate, seem almost charming in their own way, but not blurring the boundaries enough that you won't fail to relish the prospect of their come-uppence. Ryan is an empathetic hero of the piece, and Neville slowly reveals layers to him, as professional soldier, and essentially moral individual and a different side to him in a nice little romantic development in the plot, that fits in well with the overall arc of the story.

There is always a slight danger when established authors branch out into a standalone, and whilst bearing in mind the strength of Neville's previous series and seeing some less successful standalones from other well known series writers, I did have fears, but trust me, my fears were assuaged very quickly, by being so immediately drawn into this thrilling and enthralling plot. My first read of the year and I'm pleased to say a very enjoyable one at that.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars another winner from Mr. Neville, 28 Feb 2013
By 
I. B. Pitbladdo "jacandian" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ratlines (Hardcover)
This is another great story from Stuart Neville. The action centres around real life World War II S.S. soldier Otto Skorzeny and other former Nazis granted asylum in Ireland. It is a fast moving and gripping tale which will hold your attention first page to last.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice!, 3 April 2013
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This review is from: Ratlines (Kindle Edition)
Did some of the Nazis flee to Eire after the war?
Did the Irish government colude in the escape of war criminals?
Is this well written story totally fictional.....or..?

A fast paced, violent, action thriller. who done it, twist on history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, 18 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Ratlines (Hardcover)
'Ratlines' exposes a little known (to me) dirty Irish secret: the harbouring of German war criminals after World War 2 - or the Emergency as the Irish referred to it at the time. It has everything - an attractive hero, an even more attractive 'leading lady', villains (not all of them Nazis) and a plot that weaves history, politics and criminality into a compelling story - to make it a most entertaining and very readable book. This is the first Stuart Neville novel I have read. It will not be my last.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars (3.5 stars) Good start but becomes morally lightweight, 21 Dec 2012
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Ratlines (Hardcover)
(3.5 stars)

Dublin, 1963, and when three ex-Nazis are killed after being given refuge by the Irish government everyone assumes it's a political reprisal for war-crimes. But as Albert Ryan gets deeper into the investigation, his assumptions start to be challenged...

This starts off really well with a complex plot with its roots in the Second World War. Neville writes well in an easy, flowing style which draws us in very quickly, and there are some interesting points made about uneasy bed-fellows during the war: Breton nationalists, for example, who welcomed a Nazi alliance and worked against the French Resistance.

But about two-thirds of the way through, the plot veers off into a direction which I found disconcertingly lightweight in moral terms, especially given the build-up of the start of the book, and the story lost some of my interest from then.

So overall this is a good political thriller, but it does set up expectations which I felt weren't fulfilled - it moves from having some kind of moral weight to being something far more mundane.

Recommended but with reservations.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting history. Too heavy on the sadism!, 7 Sep 2013
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The pace of this thriller is pretty good and the use of little known history of fascist fugitives in Ireland made me want to read the book on the subject mentioned in the bibliography. The only bad note is the amount of torture and beatings the hero gets subject to. He would have been hospitalised half way through give the punishment he took!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thriller - good holiday read, 4 Sep 2013
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Standard thriller fare - a good read. Far fetched but kept my attention on relaxing holiday! Worth adding to suitcase
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars gripping read, 19 Aug 2013
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Really gripping story set in post war Ireland. Full of Nazis, spies and devious politicians. A really good spy/detective story that makes for a great holiday read. Not a classic novel that will make your "all time list" but a top 20 read for 2013.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nazis in Ireland after the war, 4 July 2013
By 
N. Sutcliffe (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ratlines (Kindle Edition)
This is in line with a Jack Higgins romp - a good easy read when being entertained without having to dig into the deep recess of the mind to find a solution.

What it did provoke was an interest into Ireland at its part in accepting ex Nazis after the second world war - I will be looking to follow up with further factual reading on the subject.
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Ratlines
Ratlines by Stuart Neville (Paperback - 1 Aug 2013)
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