Garden of Beasts: A Novel of Berlin 1936, by Jeffery Deaver

Cover ImageFinished audio 1-14-09, rating 3.5, fiction, pub. 2004

In this historical novel Paul Shumann is a hit man for the mob who gets caught red-handed and is offered the choice of the electric chair or traveling to Germany to kill one of Hitler’s power men, Reinhard Ernst.  The choice was an easy one and Paul travels to Germany with the Olympic team where cameos by real Olympians, including the hero of the games, Jesse Owens, add interest.  Once Paul reaches Germany he is almost immediately embroiled in a murder that has the Crypto searching Berlin and beyond for the hit man.

The many storylines are compelling.  You get to meet Hitler and other real characters like Himmler and Goring.  The Cryptos search for Paul is a cat and mouse game that forces Paul into the shadows.  There are a few there to help Paul complete his heady task of killing Ernst.  And the men pulling the strings back in New York are not exactly what they seem.  There is also love and national loyalty at play.

This novel has plenty going on and there were many things I really liked about it.  I thought the first two-thirds of the book was a great set-up full of wonderful characters and storylines.  It was interesting to see that some of the police were not Hitler supporters and it added real depth to the real story being enacted Hitler.  Paul’s sense of duty to his job and his interest in righting injustice made him a compelling main character.

As much as I enjoyed the first part of the book I equally did not find the end satisfying.  The wrap up had plenty of twist and turns, which was good, but at the end there still seemed to be a few things left incomplete. 

If this time period intrigues you or you are a Jeffery Deaver fan you should give this book a try.