by Jeffery Deaver
Oh, WOW! I loved this suspense/mystery. I think I've discovered a new favorite author. It may be premature to say that after one book, so I'm starting on a second Deaver to make sure. I loved this book. The plot, the characters, the setting of Nazi Germany in 1936 were all topnotch.
The book's hero is a mob "button man," or hit man, Paul Schumann, who is caught in the act in New York City. His captures offer him an alternative to the electric chair - to go to Berlin undercover as a journalist writing about the upcoming Olympics, in order to assassinate Col. Reinhard Ernst, the chief architect of Hitler's militarization, seen as a threat to American interests. A German spy onboard Paul's transatlantic liner grows suspicious and sends a warning to Germany before Paul discovers and kills him. Then in Berlin, Paul, en route to meet his contact, kills a second suspicious man who may be a storm trooper, setting Insp. Willi Kohl of the Berlin police on his trail.
Deaver weaves the three manhunts—Paul after his target, Kohl after Paul and the Nazi hierarchy after Paul—with a deft hand,.
One of my favorite parts of the book was the look at the frightening life of 1936 Berlin, a city on the brink of madness. Top Nazis, including Hitler, Himmler and Göring, make colorful cameos, but it's the smart, shaded-gray characterizations of the principals that anchor the exciting plot.
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.
How have I missed reading anything by Deaver before now?! Garden of Beasts is a stand alone novel; not part of Deaver's Lincoln Rymes series, which I've added to my list of new series.