Monday, October 17, 2011

Garden of Beasts by Jeffery Deaver

Garden of Beasts

This was an entertaining, historical fictional page turner that took me into the world of Nazi Germany's 1936 Berlin during the Olympics.  This exciting read is told from the viewpoint of an American assassin, Paul Schumann, who has been promised forgiveness from his mob assassinations by the US if he will kill one of the (fictional) Nazi leaders, Reinhard Ernst, for the Department of the Navy. 
This story is told in a time before World War II, when Hitler was attempting to form his conquering armies in spite of the Treaty of Versailles where Germany agreed (well, by a twist of arm, they lost WWI) that not only did they cause WWI but they agreed to have an extremely limited military.  Deaver created a work of art, not telling, but showing the reader the mood of Berlin, where everyday Germans were terrorized by government thugs known as "Brownshirts", or the SA. Jewish shop owners are attacked, and worse....

He wrote his story, alternating between the viewpoints of diverse characters.  Our hero, Paul Schumann, is busy negotiating Berlin's underground, trying to figure out how to get a bullet through Ernst.  Ernst is busy successfully surviving the hostile politics of Hitler, Goering (head of SS) and Goebbels (minister of propaganda).  Kohl of the Berlin Police (known as Kripo) is on Paul's trail for a murder he did not commit.  One can only hope that Paul gets Ernst before Kohl catches Paul.

The story was totally fun, deep in history, and has many discussion points.  I would recommend this book for discussion.

One curious thing is that there is another book titled In the Garden of Beasts written by Eric Larson.  This book was chosen by my book club, and I accidentally picked up the wrong book.  They were both about Nazi Berlin, but In the Garden of Beasts was not fictional, and was set in 1933.Though I haven't read the one I was "supposed" to read, after our reading group meeting, I'm convinced I had a lot more fun reading this book! No complaints here!  Many complaints from others regarding In the Garden of Beasts.