In the most ingenious and provocative thriller yet from the acclaimed New York Times best-selling 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 48 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.
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This was a welcome change to the Rhyme books. Deaver has created a new set of interesting characters within an entertaining and well paced story. This would be a welcome beginning to a new series. It offers a similar milieu as the Alan Furst novels but is faster paced.