In the most ingenious and provocative thriller yet from the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Jeffery Deaver, a conscience-plagued mobster turned government hitman struggles to find his moral compass amid rampant treachery and betrayal in 1936 Berlin.
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.
As soon as he stepped into the dim apartment he knew he was dead.
He wiped sweat off his palm, looking around the place, which was quiet as a morgue, except for the faint sounds of Hell's Kitchen traffic late at night and the ripple of the greasy shade when the swiveling Monkey Ward fan turned its hot breath toward the window.
The whole scene was off.
Out of kilter...
Malone was supposed to be here, smoked on booze, sleeping off a binge. But he wasn't. No bottles of corn anywhere, not even the smell of bourbon, the punk's only drink. And it looked like he hadn't been around for a while. The New York Sun on the table was two days old. It sat next to a cold ashtray and a glass with a blue halo of dried milk halfway up the side.
He clicked the light on.
Well, there was a side door, like he'd noted yesterday from the hallway, looking over the place. But it was nailed shut. And the window that let onto the fire escape? Brother, ...
'The Garden of Beasts' is Deaver's 19th novel and his latest break
from the Lincoln Rhyme series. Paul Schumann is a German-American veteran
of World War I. He is also a hit man (although one with principles as he
only kills 'bad' people). He's recruited against his will to
assassinate a key Nazi at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Although the
assassination target himself is fictional, top Nazis such as Hitler, Himmler and
Goring appear with plausible cameo roles.
Of course, it goes without saying that the assassination
doesn't go to plan, instead Schumman
finds himself on the run through the heart of Berlin and from there the story
twists and turns in true Deaver fashion.
If you liked Garden of Beasts, try these:
Rich with sharply etched characters and prose, and a plot of astonishing intricacy, this is an uncommonly intelligent thriller by one of our very best writers.
Philip Kerr returns with his best-loved character, Bernie Gunther, in the fifth novel in what is now a series: a tight, twisting, compelling thriller that is firmly rooted in history.
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