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As expected from Stuart Neville, this is a good, solidly crafted story that quickly captures the imagination with a morally complex mystery set in 1963 Ireland. The title "Ratlines" refers to a system of escape routes through Europe utilized by Nazis after the end of WWII. Having never heard the term before, I was surprised when a quick internet search revealed that the novel's villain, Otto Skorzeny, was not only a real historical figure, but the very Nazi who masterminded the "Odessa File" underground railroad for fleeing fascists. As Neville expertly builds a multi-layered foundation for his story, much is explained about Ireland's role in WWII. A large portion of the Irish population seemed to believe the old chestnut, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Unfortunately, Ireland's neutrality and some citizen's quiet support of Hitler's war with Britain brought the country to the slippery slope that is the background of "Ratlines."
Some reviewers have taken exception to Alan Smyth's narration of this book. While I see that Neville's previous titles are in my Audible library, I must not be as passionate about their narrator, the truly excellent Gerard Doyle. I thought Smyth's Irish accent pleasant and understated. A testament to Smyth's versatility is his ability to handle the narrative cocktail of several different European accents (so many old Nazis popping up!) with a South African and American chaser. He disappeared into the story and that's my definition of great narration.
Finally, I feel compelled to tell you that several scenes in this book are quite graphic in their description of torturous interrogation. I mean quite graphic. I mean, I pulled my earphones out for awhile, then listened again for a sec, then pulled them out for another while. To the author's credit, the scenes are so chillingly real, the dread experienced by the characters was easily grasped, giving further understanding of how fear drove their actions - and inactions.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful
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.
21 of 23 people found this review helpful