Book: Garden of Beasts

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Book:

Garden of Beasts: A Novel of Berlin 1936

Author: Jeffery Deaver
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Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Paul Schumann, a German American living in New York City in 1936, is a mobster hitman known as much for his brilliant tactics as for taking only “righteous” assignments. But then Paul gets caught. And the arresting officer offers him a stark choice: prison or covert government service. Paul is asked to pose as a journalist covering the summer Olympics taking place in Berlin. He’s to hunt down and kill Reinhard Ernst—the ruthless architect of Hitler’s clandestine rearmament. If successful, Paul will be pardoned and given the financial means to go legit; if he refuses the job, his fate will be Sing Sing and the electric chair.

Paul travels to Germany, takes a room in a boardinghouse near the Tiergarten—the huge park in central Berlin but also, literally, the “Garden of Beasts”—and begins his hunt. In classic Deaver fashion, the next forty-eight hours are a feverish cat-and-mouse chase, as Paul stalks Ernst through Berlin while a dogged Berlin police officer and the entire Third Reich apparatus search frantically for the American.

Garden of Beasts is packed with fascinating period detail and features a cast of perfectly realized locals, Olympic athletes and senior Nazi officials—some real, some fictional. With hairpin plot twists, the reigning “master of ticking-bomb suspense” (People) plumbs the nerve-jangling paranoia of prewar Berlin and steers the story to a breathtaking and wholly unpredictable ending.

Reviews

Amazon.com

Jeffery Deaver’s Garden of Beasts introduces anti-hero Paul Schumann, a notorious rubout man for the New York Mafia known for his cold and professional approach to his job. But the jig is up when he is duped by high-ranking feds who give him a choice—prison or one more impossible job: assassinate the man who’s running Hitler’s plan for rearming Germany. The hard-nosed German-American lands on the streets of Berlin where immediately the best-laid plans of the United States Government go awry. Schumman finds himself in a city living in fear, tracked by Berlin’s best homicide detective. As the intricate chase wears on, both men will discover that the greatest evil is the ascendant Nazi party.

Deaver’s novel, equal parts noir thriller and historical extrapolation, is a page-turner that offers a twisting visceral experience of the tension in Berlin during that fateful summer. He draws sympathetic portraits of everyday Germans caught between duty to country and their consciences. Into this mix, Deaver drops his coldly dangerous hitman who brawls with brownshirts, chums with Olympic athletes, collaborates with criminals, fraternizes with poets, and discovers the hero inside his hardened soul. —Jeremy Pugh

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