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.
'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.
Amazon.com - Jeremy Pugh
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.
An affecting love affair between Paul and his German landlady goes in surprising directions, as do the main plot lines, which move outside Berlin as heroes become villains and vice versa. This is prime Deaver, which means prime entertainment.
Booklist - David Pitt
Deaver's audience will be pleased with this one, but it will be an equally big hit with fans of such Nazi-era thrillers as Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir trilogy or Robert Harris' Fatherland.
Just the thing for readers who'd like to channel their frustration over the current geopolitical mess into the traditional American values of cleverness, adaptability, and vigilante violence in the best of all possible causes.
Library Journal - Robert Conroy
Following Schumann through a multitude of twists, turns, and betrayals is exciting and helps illuminate the early days of the Third Reich. Highly recommended.
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