Ratlines

  • by Stuart Neville
  • Narrated by Alan Smyth
  • 10 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Ireland 1963. As the Irish people prepare to welcome President John F. Kennedy to the land of his ancestors, a German national is murdered in a seaside guesthouse. Lieutenant Albert Ryan, Directorate of Intelligence, is ordered to investigate. The German is the third foreigner to die within a few days, and Minister for Justice Charles Haughey wants the killing to end, lest a shameful secret be exposed: the dead men were all Nazis granted asylum by the Irish government in the years following World War II.
A note from the killers is found on the dead German's corpse, addressed to Colonel Otto Skorzeny, Hitler's favorite commando, once called the most dangerous man in Europe. The note simply says: "We are coming for you."
As Albert Ryan digs deeper into the case, he discovers a network of former Nazis and collaborators, all presided over by Skorzeny from his country estate outside Dublin. When Ryan closes in on the killers, his loyalty is torn between country and conscience. Why must he protect the very people he fought against 20 years before? Ryan learns that Skorzeny might be a dangerous ally, but he is a deadly enemy.

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, January 2013 - I listened to Stuart Neville’s debut novel Ghosts of Belfast 3 years ago, and was totally swept up by his seamless blending of fantasy into an IRA noir thriller. In Neville’s next two novels he delivered solid thrills, but they were slightly more traditionally drawn. But when I heard about his newest stand-alone Ratlines, I knew I had to listen to it. He heads back to his old narrative stomping grounds of an Ireland at war with itself, while bringing in an alternate history element involving Nazi stowaways. It doesn’t get more chilling than that! —Emily, Audible Editor

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What the Critics Say

“Thrilling.... Readers will hope to see more of Ryan, a formidable yet damaged hero." (Publishers Weekly)
“Another moody winner mixes Nazis into Neville's usual Irish noir.” (Kirkus Reviews)
"Neville, whose debut, The Ghosts of Belfast, won the 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller, concocts a believable plot with an intriguing protagonist torn between duty to country and his distaste for Nazi criminals. Fans of Jack Higgins and Ken Follett will enjoy this novel." (Library Journal)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

excellent novel; loses authenticity in narration

To second reviewer Deborah: if you find Gerard Doyle's standard of narration essential for an excellent listen, consider getting this in print. Smyth is very competent and although I'd listen to him in other novels, he is not a match for a Neville Ireland-set tale. This maybe good news for listeners not fond of Irish inflected vowels, however.

Apart from the narration, I think this is as a good a novel (plot, character, setting, atmosphere) as Ghosts of Belfast - even richer because it is excellent historical as well as crime fiction. Grounded in the larger lines of history but with fictional details, it captures the moral complexity of real life. Neville avoids creating black hats/ white hats compared to much best selling historical fiction.

There are, however, as in real life, generous doses of torture, beatings and murder.

I enjoy detective and historical fiction but try to stay away from the violent stuff out of fear of becoming desensitized to violence -- but, I think by staying "real" -- by avoiding glamorizing adventure and espionage, this Neville novel doesn't make violence entertainment for entertainment's sake. I found the violence "wince factor" higher in this Neville, however - and that may be due to my narration preference.

Including the JFK angle in the storyline might appeal to a larger audience than earlier Neville -- thus the choice of the more standard General English narration I guess -- that choice has debatable merit. Without Doyle's narration, I doubt I would have found even Ghosts of Belfast so engaging. He was able to expand on author Neville's nuances of class, sectarian and generational differences beyond the printed word. I spent as much time wondering what a different narrator could bring to Ratlines as I did thinking about the moral complexities raised by Neville, and that is unfortunate. Narrators matter, especially in an assembly of characters such as this.
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- connie "Narrative makes the world go round."

Where's Gerard?

I love Neville's trilogy and they are a few of the not many books I've listened to over and over. Gerard Doyle is terrific as their narrator. I'm still on part one of this novel and have had to backtrack several times because the narration is so boring and strange. Weird accents come and go with the main character sounding American and bad Irish depending on a whim. It's just too distracting. I'm debating buying the kindle version. The story seems interesting but I just can't stay interested due to Mr. Smyth's reading of it.

I'd recommend reading this one.
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- Deborah "Lover of good cops and robbers books, Anne Tyler, Robert Parker, Dennis Lehane, James Lee Burke."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-02-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios