CHAPTER ONEgt;  gt;   “You don’t look like a Jew,” Helmut Krauss said to the mangt; reflected in the window pane.gt;   Beyond the glass, rolling white waves threw themselvesgt; against the rocks of Galway Bay, the Atlantic gloweringgt; beyond. The guesthouse in Salthill was basic, but clean. Thegt; small seaside town outside Galway City hosted families fromgt; all over Ireland seeking a few days of salt air and sunshinegt; during the summer months. Sometimes it provided beds forgt; unmarried couples, fornicators and adulterers with the nervegt; to bluff their way past the morally upright proprietors of suchgt; establishments.gt;   Krauss knew so because he had enjoyed the company of severalgt; ladies in guesthouses like this one, taking bracing walks alonggt; the seafront, enduring overcooked meals in mostly empty dininggt; rooms, then finally rattling the headboard of whatever bed theygt; had taken. He carried a selection of wedding rings in his pocket,gt; alongside the prophylactics.gt;   This dreary island, more grey than green, so choked by thegt; Godly, provided him few pleasures. So why not enjoy the oddgt; sordid excursion with a needful woman?gt;   Perhaps Krauss should have allowed himself the luxury of agt; decent hotel in the city, but a funeral, even if for a close friend,gt; did not seem a fitting occasion. The security might have beengt; better, though, and this visitor might not have gained entry sogt; easily. For a moment, Krauss felt an aching regret, but immediatelygt; dismissed it as foolishness. Had he been the kind of mangt; who submitted to regret, he would have hanged himself tengt; years ago.gt;   “Are you a Jew?” Krauss asked.gt;   The reflection shifted. “Maybe. Maybe not.”gt;   “I saw you at the funeral,” Krauss said. “It was a beautifulgt; service.”gt;   “Very,” the reflection said. “You wept.”gt;   “He was a good man,” Krauss said. He watched seagulls asgt; they skated the updrafts.gt;   “He was a murderer of women and children,” the reflectiongt; said. “Like you.”gt;   “Murderer,” Krauss said. “Your accent is British. For manygt; people in Ireland, you British are murderers. Oppressors.gt; Imperialists.”gt;   The reflection swelled on the glass as the man approached.gt;   “You hide your accent well.”gt;   “I enjoy the spoken word. To a fault, perhaps, but I spend timegt; refining and practicing my speech. Besides, a German accent stillgt; draws attention, even in Ireland. They shelter me, but not allgt; make me welcome. Some cling to their British overmasters like agt; child too old for the teat.”gt;   Krauss had felt the weight of his age more frequently in recentgt; times. His thick black hair had greyed, the sculpted featuresgt; turned cragged. The veins in his nose had begun to rupturegt; with the vodka and wine. Women no longer stared at him withgt; hungry eyes when he took his afternoon walks through Dublin’sgt; Ringsend Park. But he still had good years ahead of him, howevergt; few. Would this man steal them from him?gt;   “Have you come to kill me too?” he asked.gt;   “Maybe. Maybe not,” the reflection said.gt;   “May I take a drink, perhaps smoke a cigarette?”gt;   “You may.”gt;   Krauss turned to him. A man of middle age, between fortygt; and forty five, old enough to have served in the war. He hadgt; looked younger across the cemetery, dressed in the overalls of agt; gravedigger, but proximity showed the lines on his forehead andgt; around his eyes. Sand-coloured hair strayed beneath the woollengt; cap on his head. He held a pistol, a Browning fitted with a suppressor,gt; aimed squarely at Krauss’s chest. It shook.gt;   “Would you care for a small vodka?” Krauss asked. “Perhaps itgt; will steady your nerve.”gt;   The man considered for a few seconds. “All right,” he said.gt;   Krauss went to the nightstand where a bottle of importedgt; vodka and a tea making set waited next to that morning’s Irishgt; Times. The front page carried a headline about the forthcominggt; visit of President John F Kennedy, a story concerning agt; request by the Northern Irish government that he should venturegt; across the border during his days on the island. The Irishgt; worshipped the American leader because he was one of theirs,gt; however many generations removed, and anticipation of hisgt; arrival had reached a point of near hysteria. Krauss intendedgt; to avoid all radio and television broadcasts for the duration ofgt; Kennedy’s stay.gt;   Not that it mattered now.gt;   Krauss turned two white teacups over and poured a generousgt; shot into each. He went to soften one with water from a jug, butgt; the man spoke.gt;   “No water, thank you.”gt;   Krauss smiled as he handed a cup to the man. “No glasses, I’mgt; afraid. I hope you don’t mind.”gt;   The man nodded his thanks as he took the cup with his leftgt; hand. Undiluted vodka spilled over the lip. He took a sip andgt; coughed.gt;   Krauss reached into the breast pocket of his best black suit.gt; The man’s knuckle whitened beneath the trigger guard. Kraussgt; slowed the movement of his hand and produced a gold cigarettegt; case. He opened it, and extended it to the man.gt;   “No, thank you.” The man did not flinch at the engravedgt; swastika as Krauss had hoped. Perhaps he wasn’t a Jew, just somegt; zealous Briton.gt;   Krauss took a Peter Stuyvesant, his only concession togt; Americanism, and gripped it between his lips as he snapped thegt; case closed and returned it to his pocket. He preferred Marlboro,gt; but they were too difficult to come by in this country. He tookgt; the matching lighter from his trouser pocket and sucked thegt; petrol taste from its flame. The set had been a Christmas giftgt; from Wilhelm Frick. Krauss treasured it. Blue smoke billowedgt; between the men.gt;   “Please sit,” Krauss said, indicating the chair in the corner.gt; He lowered himself onto the bed and drew deeply on the cigarette,gt; letting the heat fill his throat and chest. “May I know yourgt; name?” he asked.gt;   “You may not,” the man said.gt;   “All right. So why?”gt;   The man took another sip, grimaced at the taste, and placedgt; the cup on the windowsill to his left. “Why what?”gt;   “Why kill me?”gt;   “I haven’t decided if I’ll kill you or not, yet. I want to ask a fewgt; questions first.”gt;   Krauss sighed and leaned back against the headboard, crossinggt; his legs on the lumpy mattress. “Very well.”gt;   “Who was the well-dressed Irishman you spoke with?”gt;   “An insultingly junior civil servant,” Krauss said.gt;   Eoin Tomalty had given Krauss’s hand a firm shake after thegt; ceremony. “The minister sends his condolences,” Tomalty hadgt; said. “I’m sure you’ll understand why he was unable to attend ingt; person.”gt;   Krauss had smiled and nodded, yes, of course he understood.gt;   “A civil servant?” the man asked. “The government actuallygt; sent a representative?”gt;   “A matter of courtesy.”gt;   “Who were the others there?”gt;   “You already know,” Krauss said. “You know me, so you mustgt; know them.”gt;   “Tell me anyway.”gt; Krauss rhymed them off. “Célestin Lainé, Albert Luykx, andgt; Caoimhín Murtagh representing the IRA.”gt;   “The IRA?”gt;   “They are fools,” Krauss said. “Yokels pretending to be soldiers.gt;   They still believe they can free Ireland from you British. But theygt; are useful fools, so we avail of their assistance from time to time.”gt;   “Such as arranging funerals.”gt;   “Indeed.”gt;   The man leaned forward. “Where was Skorzeny?”gt;   Krauss laughed. “Otto Skorzeny does not waste his preciousgt; time with common men like me. He is far too busy attendinggt; society parties in Dublin, or entertaining politicians at that damngt; farm of his.”gt;   The man reached inside his jacket pocket and produced agt; sealed envelope. “You will pass this message to him.”gt;   “I’m sorry,” Krauss said. “I cannot.”gt;   “You will.”gt;   “Young man, you misunderstand me,” Krauss said. He downedgt; the rest of the vodka and placed the cup back on the bedsidegt; table. “I admit to being verbose at times, it is a failing of mine,gt; but I believe I was clear on this. I did not say ‘I will not’. I saidgt; ‘I cannot’. I have no access to Otto Skorzeny, not socially, notgt; politically. You’d do better going to one of the Irish politiciansgt; that gather to his flame.”gt;   The man got to his feet, approached the bed, keeping thegt; Browning’s aim level. With his free hand, he opened Krauss’sgt; jacket and stuffed the envelope down into the breast pocket.gt;   “Don’t worry. He’ll get it.”gt;   Krauss felt his bowel loosen. He drew hard on the cigarette,gt; burning it down to the filter, before stubbing it out in the ashtraygt; that sat on the bedside locker.gt;   The man’s hand steadied.gt;   Krauss sat upright, swung his legs off the bed, and rested hisgt; feet on the floor. He straightened his back and placed his handsgt; on his knees.gt;   Fixing his gaze on the horizon beyond the window, Kraussgt; said, “I have money. Not much, but some. It would have beengt; enough to see out my days. You can have it. All of it. I will flee.gt; The rain in this damn place makes my joints ache anyway.”gt;   The Browning’s suppressor nudged his temple.gt;   “It’s not that simple,” the man said.gt;   Krauss hauled himself to his feet. The man stood back, thegt; pistol ready.gt;   “Yes it is,” Krauss said, his voice wavering as he fought thegt; tears. “It gt;is gt;that simple. I am nothing. I was a desk clerk. I signedgt; papers, stamped forms, and got piles from sitting on a woodengt; chair in the dark and the damp.”gt;   The man pressed the muzzle against the centre of Krauss’sgt; forehead. “Those papers you signed. You slaughtered thousandsgt; with a pen. Maybe that’s how you live with it, tell yourself it wasgt; just a job, but you knew where—”gt;   Krauss swiped at the pistol, grabbed it, forced it down, throwinggt; the other man’s balance. The man regained his footing,gt; hardened his stance. His countenance held its calm, only thegt; bunching of his jaw muscles betraying his resistance.gt;   Sweat prickled Krauss’s skin and pressure built in his head.gt; He hissed through his teeth as he tried to loosen the man’sgt; fingers. The man raised the weapon, his strength renderinggt; Krauss’s effort meaningless. Their noses almost touched. Kraussgt; roared, saw the wet points of spittle he sprayed on the man’sgt; face.gt;   He heard a crack, felt a punch to his stomach, followed by wetgt; heat spreading across his abdomen. His legs turned to water, andgt; he released his hold on the barrel. He crumpled to his knees. Hisgt; hands clutched his belly, red seeping between his fingers.gt;   Hot metal pressed against Krauss’s temple.gt;   “It’s better than you deserve,” the man said.gt;   If he’d had the time, Helmut Krauss would have said, “I know.”gt;gt;CHAPTER TWOgt;gt;Albert Ryan waited with the director, Ciaran Fitzpatrick, ingt; the outer office, facing the secretary as she read a magazine.gt; The chairs were creaky and thin-cushioned. Ryan endured whilegt; Fitzpatrick fidgeted. Almost an hour had passed since Ryan hadgt; met the director in the courtyard surrounded by the grand complexgt; of buildings on Upper Merrion Street. The northern andgt; southern wings were occupied by various government departments,gt; and the Royal College of Science resided beneath thegt; dome that reached skyward on the western side of the quadrangle.gt; Ryan had expected to be ushered into the minister’s presencegt; upon arrival, and by the look of him, so had Fitzpatrick.gt;   Ryan had left his quarters at Gormanston Camp as the skygt; lightened, turning from a deep bluish grey to a milky white asgt; he walked the short distance to the train station. Two horsesgt; grazed in the field across from the platform, their bellies sagging,gt; their coats matted with neglect. They nickered to each other, thegt; sound carrying on the salt breeze. The Irish Sea stretched outgt; beyond like a black marble table.gt;   The train had arrived late. It filled slowly with tobacco smokegt; and slack-faced men as it neared Dublin, stopping at every pointgt; of civilisation along the way. Almost all of the passengers woregt; suits, whether dressed for their day’s work in some governmentgt; office, or wearing their Sunday best for a visit to the city.gt;   Ryan also wore a suit, and he always enjoyed the occasiongt; to do so. A meeting with the Minister for Justice certainly warrantedgt; the effort. He had walked south from Pearse Station togt; Merrion Street and watched the director’s face as he approached.gt; Fitzpatrick had examined him from head-to-toe before noddinggt; his begrudged approval.gt;   “Inside,” he’d said. “We don’t want to be late.”gt;   Now Ryan checked his watch again. The minute hand tickedgt; over to the hour.gt;   He’d heard the stories about the minister. A politician withgt; boundless ambition and the balls to back it up. The upstart hadgt; even married the boss’s daughter, become son-in-law to thegt; Taoiseach, Ireland’s prime minister. Some called him a shininggt; star in the cabinet, a reformist kicking at the doors of thegt; establishment; others dismissed him as a shyster on the make.gt;   Everyone reckoned him a chancer.gt;   The door opened, and Charles J. Haughey entered.gt;   “Sorry for keeping you waiting, lads,” he said as Fitzpatrickgt; stood. “It was sort of a late breakfast. Come on through.”gt;   “Coffee, Minister?” the secretary asked.gt;   “Christ, yes.”gt;   Ryan got to his feet and followed Haughey and Fitzpatrickgt; into the minister’s office. Once inside, Haughey shook the director’sgt; hand.gt;   “Is this our man Lieutenant Ryan?” he asked.gt;   “Yes, Minister,” Fitzpatrick said.gt;   Haughey extended his hand towards Ryan. “Jesus, you’re a biggt; fella, aren’t you? I’m told you did a good job against those IRAgt; bastards last year. Broke the fuckers’ backs, I heard.”gt;   Ryan shook his hand, felt the hard grip, the assertion of dominance.gt; Haughey stood taller than his height should have allowed,gt; and broad, his dark hair slicked back until his head looked likegt; that of a hawk, his eyes hunting weakness. He had only a couplegt; of years seniority over Ryan, but his manner suggested an older,gt; worldlier man, not a young buck with a higher office than his agegt; should merit.gt;   “I did my best, Minister,” Ryan said.gt;   It had been a long operation, men spending nights dug intogt; ditches, watching farmers come and go, noting the visitors,gt; sometimes following them. The Irish Republican Army’s Bordergt; Campaign had died in 1959, its back broken long ago, but Ryangt; had been tasked with making sure its corpse remained cold andgt; still.gt;   “Good,” Haughey said. “Sit down, both of you.”gt;   They took their places in leather upholstered chairs facinggt; the desk. Haughey went to a filing cabinet, whistled as he fishedgt; keys from his pocket, unlocked a drawer, and extracted a file. Hegt; tossed it on the desk’s leather surface and sat in his own chair. Itgt; swivelled with no hint of creak or squeak.gt;   An Irish tricolour hung in the corner, a copy of the Proclamationgt; of the Irish Republic on the wall, along with pictures of racehorses,gt; lean and proud.gt;   “Who made your suit?” Haughey asked.gt;   Ryan sat silent for a few seconds before he realised the questiongt; had been spoken in his direction. He cleared his throat andgt; said, “The tailor in my home town.”gt;   “And where’s that?”gt;   “Carrickmacree.”gt;   “Jesus.” Haughey snorted. “What’s your father, a pig farmer?”gt;   “A retailer,” Ryan said.gt;   “A shopkeeper?”gt;   “Yes,” Ryan said.gt;   Haughey’s smile split his face, giving his mouth the appearancegt; of a lizard’s, his tongue wet and shining behind his teeth.gt;   “Well, get yourself something decent. A man should have agt; good suit. You can’t be walking around government offices withgt; the arse hanging out of your trousers, can you?”gt;   Ryan did not reply.gt;   “You’ll want to know why you’re here,” Haughey said.gt;   “Yes, Minister.”gt;   “Did the director tell you anything?”gt;   “No, Minister.”gt;   “Proper order,” Haughey said. “He can tell you now.”gt;   Fitzpatrick went to speak, but the secretary bustled in, a traygt; in her hands. The men remained silent while she poured coffeegt; from the pot. Ryan refused a cup.gt;   When she’d gone, Fitzpatrick cleared his throat and turned ingt; his seat. “The body of a German national was found in a guesthousegt; in Salthill yesterday morning by the owner. It’s believed hegt; died the previous day from gunshot wounds to the stomach andgt; head. His name was Helmut Krauss, and he had been resident ingt; Ireland since late 1949. The Garda Síochána were called to thegt; scene, but when the body’s identity was established, the mattergt; was referred to the Department of Justice, and then to my office.”gt;   “Who was he?” Ryan asked.gt;   “Here, he was Heinrich Kohl, a small businessman, nothinggt; more. He handled escrow for various import and export companies.gt; A middle man.”gt;   “You say ‘Here’,” Ryan said. “Meaning elsewhere, he wasgt; something different.”gt;   “Elsewhere, he was SS-Hauptsturmführer Helmut Krauss ofgt; the Main SS Economic and Administrative Department. Thatgt; sounds rather more impressive than it was in reality. I believe hegt; was some sort of office worker during the Emergency.”gt;   Government bureaucrats seldom called it the war, as if to dogt; so would somehow dignify the conflict that had ravaged Europe.gt;   “A Nazi,” Ryan said.gt;   “If you want to use such terms, then yes.”gt;   “May I ask, why aren’t the Galway Garda Síochána dealinggt; with this? It sounds like a murder case. The war ended eighteengt; years ago. This is a civilian crime.”gt;   Haughey and the Fitzpatrick exchanged a glance.gt;   “Krauss is the third foreign national to have been murderedgt; within a fortnight,” the director said. “Alex Renders, a Flemishgt; Belgian, and Johan Hambro, a Norwegian. Both of them weregt; nationalists who found themselves aligned with the Reich whengt; Germany annexed their respective countries.”gt;   “And you assume the killings are connected?” Ryan asked.gt;   “All three men were shot at close range. All three men weregt; involved to some extent in nationalist movements during thegt; Emergency. It’s hard not to make the logical conclusion.”gt;   “Why were these men in Ireland?”gt;   “Renders and Hambro were refugees following the liberationgt; of their countries by the Allies. Ireland has always been welcominggt; to those who flee persecution.”gt;   “And Krauss?”gt;   Fitzpatrick went to speak, but Haughey interrupted.gt;   “This case has been taken out of the Guards’ hands as a mattergt; of sensitivity. These people were guests in our country, and theregt; are others like them, but we don’t wish to draw attention to theirgt; presence here. Not now. This is an important year for Ireland.gt; The President of the United States will visit these shores in justgt; a few weeks. For the first time in the existence of this republic, agt; head of state will make an official visit, and not just any head ofgt; state. The bloody leader of the free world, no less. Not only that,gt; he’ll be coming home, to the land of his ancestors. The wholegt; planet will be watching us.”gt;   Haughey’s chest seemed to swell as he spoke, as if he weregt; addressing some rally in his constituency.gt;   “Like the director said, these men were refugees, and this stategt; offered them asylum. But even so, some people, for whatevergt; reason, might take exception to men like Helmut Krauss livinggt; next door. They might make a fuss about it, the kind of fuss wegt; could be doing without while we’re getting ready for Presidentgt; Kennedy to arrive. There’s people in America, people on his owngt; staff, saying coming here’s a waste of time when he’s got Castro ingt; his back yard, and the blacks causing a ruckus. They’re advisinggt; him to cancel his visit. They get a sniff of trouble, they’ll startgt; insisting on it. So it’s vital that this be dealt with quietly. Out ofgt; the public gaze, as it were. That’s where you come in. I want yougt; to get to the bottom of this. Make it stop.”gt;   “And if I don’t wish to accept the assignment?”gt;   Haughey’s eyes narrowed. “I must not have made myself clear,gt; Lieutenant. I’m not asking you to investigate this crime. I’mgt; ordering you.”gt;   “With all due respect, Minister, you don’t have the authoritygt; to order me to do anything.”gt;   Haughey stood, his face reddening. “Now hold on, big fella,gt; just who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?”gt;   Fitzpatrick raised his hands, palms up and out. “I’m sorry,gt; Minister, all Lieutenant Ryan means is that such an order shouldgt; come from within the command structure of the Directorate ofgt; Intelligence. I’m sure he meant no disrespect.”gt;   “He better not have,” Haughey said, lowering himself backgt; into his chair. “If he needs an order from you, then go on andgt; give it.”gt;   Fitzpatrick turned back to Ryan. “As the Minister said, this isgt; not a voluntary assignment. You will be at his disposal until thegt; matter is resolved.”gt;   “All right,” Ryan said. “Are there any suspects in the killings?”gt;   “Not as yet,” Haughey said. “But the obvious train of thoughtgt; must be Jews.”gt;   Ryan shifted in his seat. “Minister?”gt;   “Jewish extremists,” Haughey said. “Zionists out for revenge,gt; I’d say. That will be your first line of inquiry.”gt;   Ryan considered arguing, decided against it. “Yes, minister.”gt;   “The Guards will give assistance where needed,” the directorgt; said. “We’d prefer that be avoided, of course. The fewer peoplegt; involved in this the better. You will also have the use of a car, andgt; a room at Buswells Hotel when you’re in the city.”gt;   “Thank you, sir.”gt;   Haughey opened the file he had taken from the cabinet.gt;   “There’s one more thing you should be aware of.”gt;   He lifted an envelope from the file, gripping it by its corner.gt;   One end of it was a deep brownish red. Ryan took the envelope,gt; careful to avoid the stained portion. It had been cut open alonggt; its top edge. He turned the envelope to read the words typed ongt; its face.gt;   Otto Skorzeny.gt;   Ryan said the name aloud.gt;   “You’ve heard of him?” Haughey asked.gt;   “Of course,” Ryan said, remembering images of the scarredgt; face in the society pages of the newspapers. Any soldier versed ingt; commando tactics knew of Skorzeny. The name was spoken withgt; reverence in military circles, regardless of the Austrian’s affiliations.gt; Officers marvelled at Skorzeny’s exploits as if recountinggt; the plot of some adventure novel. The rescue of Mussolini fromgt; the mountaintop hotel that served as his prison stirred most conversation.gt; The daring of it, the audacity, landing gliders on thegt; Gran Sasso cliff edge and sweeping Il Duce away on the wind.gt;   Ryan slipped his fingers into the envelope and extracted thegt; sheet of paper, unfolded it. The red stain formed angel patternsgt; across the fabric of the page. He read the typewritten words.gt; gt;   SS-Obersturmbannführer Skorzeny,gt;gt; gt;   We are coming for you.gt;gt; gt;   Await our call.gt;gt;  “Has Skorzeny seen this?” Ryan asked.gt;   Fitzpatrick said, “Colonel Skorzeny has been made aware ofgt; the message.”gt;   “Colonel Skorzeny and I will be attending a function ingt; Malahide in a few days,” Haughey said. “You will report to usgt; there with your findings. The director will give you the details.gt; Understood?”gt;   “Yes, Minister.”gt;   “Grand.” Haughey stood. He paused. “My tailor,” he said,gt; tearing a sheet from a notepad. He scribbled a name, address andgt; phone number. “Lawrence McClelland on Capel Street. Go andgt; see him, have him fit you up with something. Tell him to put itgt; on my account. Can’t be putting you in front of a man like Ottogt; Skorzeny wearing a suit like that.”gt;   Ryan dropped the bloody envelope on the desk and took thegt; details from Haughey. He kept his face expressionless. “Thankgt; you, Minister,” he said.gt;   Fitzpatrick ushered Ryan towards the door. As they went togt; exit, Haughey called, “Is it true what I heard? That you foughtgt; for the Brits during the Emergency?”gt;   Ryan stopped. “Yes, Minister.”gt;   Haughey let his gaze travel from Ryan’s shoes to his face ingt; one long distasteful stare. “Sort of young, weren’t you?”gt;   “I lied about my age.”gt;   “Hmm. I suppose that would explain your lack of judgement.” gt;gt;gt;Continues...gt; gt; gt;gt; gt;gt;gt; Excerpted from gt;Ratlinesgt; by gt;Stuart Nevillegt; Copyright © 2013 by Stuart Neville. Excerpted by permission of Soho Crime, a division of Random House, Inc.gt; All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.gt;Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.