Nerd favorite Stuart Neville ups his game with Ratlines, a historical thriller set in the early sixties in Ireland. Coming off his epic Belfast trilogy (Ghosts of Belfast, Collusion, Stolen Souls), Ratlines is a bit of a departure for the author but thankfully no less blisteringly badass.
The novel follows Irish military cop Albert Ryan as he looks into the murders of a German nationals who have been killed in the country. The higher ups want the hit squad shut down before the arrival of JFK in November and in particular they want the killers taken out before they get to prominent local business man and legendary Nazi Skorzeny. But soon Ryan finds that the Nazi hunters are something more gray than some angry Jewish residents or Mossad agents…
Neville knows how to let a story rip with the best of them, the novel starting out as an intriguing mystery before becoming a much more twisted thriller. His prose is tight, his characters complex, and his tension drum tight. But what brings Ratlines to another level is its riveting peek into a chapter in history few know about.
The Nerd is aware that the noir junkies may be getting wary of his praise at this point. Too many lame thrillers have burned us all with their insistence that their take on historical events will make us look over how tired their story is, but Ratlines bucks that trend like the meanest bronco in the county. This is some truly creepy and captivating history we’re digging into and Neville knows just how much detail to get into so we’re never bored or feeling like we’re being lectured at.
But I don’t want to get into the shady, shameful Irish history that’s unearthed in Ratlines because uncovering the layers of this time in the nation’s past is part of the immense fun of Ratlines. So if you want to learn some fucked up shit about Ireland in the most entertaining way possible, Ratlines should be placed at the tippy-fucking-top of your TBR pile toot-sweet.