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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2004 Jeffery Deaver (P)2016 Simon & Schuster

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of my favs

As a historical fiction book? It’s great.

As a general fiction book? Also great.

Everything from the atmosphere to the narration are stellar.

Sadly no sequel that I know of but it’s still a great ride and it goes quickly

61 of 66 people found this review helpful

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  • ES
  • Centreville, VA
  • 06-27-16

very good

Any additional comments?

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.

46 of 51 people found this review helpful

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great read

love this one. highly recommend it to anyone good story great characters and play between them. keeps you listing from start to end.

26 of 31 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark
  • Waltham, MA, United States
  • 05-11-18

Doesn't click until the end

This mystery takes place in Germany in 1936. Paul Schumann is a hitman who is hired by the US secret service to assassinate a Nazi leader. Doing so will earn him a clean record and his freedom. He poses as a sports writer during the Olympics. Paul is involved in a murder in Germany, and a German police officer is ruthlessly tracking him as the deadline for the assassination nears.

I liked the background, but Schumann's character is not as interesting as Deaver's characters usually are. The German police inspector is by far the most interesting character. He is trying to do his job while questioning the new Nazi regime. This novel bounces here and there, with some very good moments amidst a slow story. The Nazi Germany backdrop takes this novel only so far. I liked this enough to stay with it, and then then the last two hours drew me in with great twists and turns and some powerful scenes. That end almost pushed this up to a 4 star listen, but too much of this story did not draw me in enough. Still, pretty good, and original.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Edge of your seat riveting!

Finally a book that catches me from the first page. This book has so many twists and turns and constant suspense! This is the book I listen to while doing laundry and find myself just sitting and staring off. The book you listen to when you drive, but then refuse to get out of the car because you can’t leave the book. Intense! Can’t wait to explore more of his books.
Mild language and sex, there is some but it’s not constant and too explicit. You could almost let your kids hear it, which is good but you want it on:)

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

great historical fiction

The author did a brilliant and chilling job of immersing the reader into Nazi Germany in 1937, a time when civil rights were suspended including the right to trial. A time when citizens openly love Hitler else they were killed or sent to camps. A time of summary judgment handed out by thugs wearing SS and Gestapo uniforms.
This is the background of a believable plot
that is full of action, intrigue, and many twists.
The narrator did a very fine job of immersing the reader into the story with his performance of the many roles and the many voices.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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An amazing amalgamation of history and fiction

I don't know this author. I bought this on a deal. The story is well constructed. The narration complete with accents, yet clearly understandable is fantastic.

This is a fictional tale of an American hit man sent to pre-war Nazi Germany to assassinate a fictional member of Hitler's inner circle. Along the way he is caught up in a police investigation of a murder. A cat and mouse game ensues as he tries to carry out his hit while evading the local cop. He finds an unlikely ally at a local speak easy and builds a friendship. Amidst a great story full of suspense is the fascinating collision of a hit man's morality clashing with Nazi attitudes toward minorities. That clash affects not only him, but makes other characters living in a cultural anathema to a modern perspective reevaluate their own moral codes. But this is not a fable with a moral. It is a thriller, a reverse murder mystery.

The story is told from different perspectives, though mostly from the main character, an American hit man turned international assassin. Other perspectives include the German street cop chasing him, and still others from Nazi elites -- Hitler, Goering, Hummer, etc.

It has a masterful mix of pre-war Nazi Germany culture, real characters, and fictional characters. And the story comes to a satisfying conclusion that is consistent with history. (The story is not destroyed by our knowledge of history.)

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A good read that makes it an audible success

Aa clever plot which is rapped in the horror of prewar Germany’s rise of Hitler and his gang of ruthless associates; It started slow but gains momentum and interest as story progresses. An excellent reader, whose narration adds a lot to the listening experience:

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  • Daniel
  • Hickory Creek, TX United States
  • 05-15-18

"Noir" Historical Fiction

In this book, Jeffrey Deever has crafted an historical novel "noir". That is to say, he's written a book that takes us back to the summer Olympics of 1944. Our intrepid hero is NOT a detective though. He is instead a German-speaking American who makes his living as a "button man", or a man who kills for the mob. He is a little unusual though. He will only kill bad men: those with their own murders on their souls; and those are murders of innocents.

He is tasked with killing a high-level German official. This story kept me on the edge of my seat. I couldn't put it down. It was so craftily constructed; so devilishly devised; so wickedly written I was pretty much spellbound from start to finish.

Jefferson Mays did a great job on the narration. If you like historical fiction and old style "detective" books, get this book. You will love it. It is a wonderful blend of both genres.

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Amazing

Love Jeffery Deaver and this is my favorite book
There are surprises at every turn
Jefferson Mays does the book justice and is highly enjoyable