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Students of history and readers of historical-crime fiction are used to finding Nazis in the unlikeliest places but Ireland? That's one refuge many of us may have missed. It's 1963, and Lieutenant Albert Ryan of the Directorate of Intelligence is tasked with solving a string of murders. The dead were all Nazis and collaborators, and on the eve of JFK's presidential visit, their identities could prove embarrassing to his hosts. The investigation proves a minefield, with Ryan unsure whether he's reporting to the minister of justice, Charles Haughey, or Otto Skorzeny, a renowned Nazi commando now living quite comfortably on the Emerald Isle (Slorzeny obviously has a personal interest in the case). Neville writes wonderfully, setting the scene in precise, economical prose; pitting well-defined, historically inspired characters in opposition to each other; and tangling the plotlines tantalizingly. If he goes astray at all, it's after a gruesome plot turn that renders Ryan helpless, with nearly all of his subsequent action passive or reactive. With a character this strong, we want to see him fight to the finish. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Given the acclaim for Neville's prize-winning Belfast Trilogy (Stolen Souls, 2011; Collusion, 2010; The Ghosts of Belfast, 2009), Soho is betting big on this one with a $150,000 marketing campaign, a national tour, and big pushes at BEA and ALA.--Graff, Keir Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Set on the eve of President Kennedy's 1963 visit to Ireland, this thrilling, historically informed stand-alone from Irish author Neville (Stolen Souls) charts the efforts of Irish intelligence officer Albert Ryan to discover who murdered three Nazis granted asylum in Ireland after WWII. Ryan has to be wary of real-life Col. Otto Skorzeny, one of the most dangerous surviving Nazis, to whom a note on one of the bodies was addressed: "We are coming for you." In his digging, Ryan learns of the titular "ratlines," the secret routes use to ferry postwar Nazis from one safe place to another. Complicating Ryan's investigation is his growing attraction to Celia Hume, a woman of mysterious means whose job it is to charm important men and ascertain secrets. As Ryan tracks the killer, he meets Mossad agent Goren Weiss, who's intent on getting to Skorzeny. Readers will hope to see more of Ryan, a formidable yet damaged hero. Agent: Nat Sobel, Sobel Weber Associates. Author tour. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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At the end of World War II, several denazified Germans found sanctuary in Ireland, among them notorious SS officer Otto Skorzeny. Best known as the commando who rescued deposed dictator Mussolini from his mountain prison in Italy, Skorzeny set up some of the "ratlines" that served as escape routes for Nazis fleeing Allied justice. Drawing on these historical tidbits, Irish author Neville (Stolen Souls) crafts an engaging crime story set in 1963, just weeks before President Kennedy's visit to Ireland. Several murders have upset the Minister of Justice in Dublin, a man known to be friendly with Skorzeny. The victims are all ex-Nazis formerly granted asylum by the government. Intelligence agent Albert Ryan is tasked with solving the crimes before they embarrass the country and sabotage Kennedy's visit. VERDICT 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, though some readers may find graphic scenes of torture difficult to bear.-Ron Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.