2. 'Ratlines,' by Stuart Neville
Location: Ireland, 1963
Detective: Lt. Albert Ryan
The timing could hardly have been any less impeccable. Yet another German man is found murdered in Ireland right before a historic visit by the first Irish-American president.
This is not good for a variety of reasons, especially the uncomfortable truth the Ireland has been good to ex-Nazis. Very good, in fact. In real life, as in the new mystery novel "Ratlines," Ireland served as a friendly post-war host to Reich leaders on the run.
Lt. Albert Ryan gets the case. He's young but not young enough in 1963: He chose to serve with the British during World War II, a decision that turns him into a traitor in the eyes some of his countrymen.
Soon he finds himself navigating through a maze of violence, intrigue, and (of course) romance.
"Ratlines" is a brash and exciting thriller, full of hairpin turns and espionage. Even the film "Dr. No" makes an appearance, appropriate for a book that tries to create a James Bond with a lilt instead of a Connery-style brogue.
Lt. Ryan, stolid and a bit colorless, doesn't come to as much life as the novel's cinematic villains do. But that's okay. The bad guys, along with an expert depiction of 1960s-era Ireland and a rapid-fire plot, turn "Ratlines" into a must-read thriller.