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STUART NEVILLE Graces Cover of Crimespree 49

_49Issue 49 of Crimespree will be going out on Friday and it features a cover story with an exclusive Stuart Neville interview by John Connolly. Here’s a little teaser for you!

And come January don’t forget to pick up RATLINES (from the wonderful SOHO Crime), it’s really a great book and the rest of the 2013 books will have to work hard to top it.

John Connolly: You didn’t mention any Irish crime writers among your influences, because there just weren’t any. There were Irish writers writing crime fiction, but they weren’t necessarily writing about Ireland. Crime fiction touches on a lot of unsavory things, and I don’t think we were ever comfortable with having our own state examined that way. You’re a writer from a Protestant tradition writing about a situation that is still very raw and featuring a Republican killer—what were the responses to The Ghosts of Belfast? Was there outcry?

Stuart Neville: The response was mostly positive—I only had one negative response in Northern Ireland, from a writer who happened to be from a Republican background. A few Irish Americans, a very small number, were very vocal in their disapproval—they didn’t want to have their green tinted glasses dislodged. Their point of view seems to be that I’m “the wrong kind of Irish” to be writing this book. I don’t know how to address that mindset.

John Connolly: That brings us to your new book, due out in January, Ratlines, which could ruffle some feathers too. In your own words, what would you say this book is about?

Stuart Neville: It’s about the Nazis and Axis collaborators who were harbored in Ireland after the Second World War. A string of foreign nationals have been murdered, and an intelligence officer called Albert Ryan is called in to investigate. But he finds out the murdered men were all Nazis, the same people he was fighting against during the war.

John Connolly: It’s a radical departure from what you’ve written before. But the historical detail is very interesting. It’s set in the south, not the north. How did it come about?

Stuart Neville: It’s one of those things you’d always been vaguely aware of—that there was a link between the IRA and the Nazis. I saw a documentary by Cathal O’Shannon called Ireland’s Nazis and two thing shocked me—the number of collaborators who came to Ireland, and the complicity of the state. Their coming wasn’t some back door thing. But probably the biggest shock of all was the character of Otto Skorzeny. He’s just a gift of a villain—6’5’’, built like a brick shithouse, with a huge scar down his face—you couldn’t make the guy up. He was a James Bond villain before there was James Bond. Then I found out he was raising sheep outside of Dublin from 1959 to 1969 after escaping custody on the Continent, and that he wasn’t even living in secret. He was always in the society pages, which treated him as a charming rogue kind of character. The more I dug into it, the more I found.


To see the rest of this interview pick up a copy of Crimespree issue 49.