Customer Reviews of Garden of Beasts
What a fascinating novel!
Mr. Deaver says he does not like to ambush his readers especially those electing to buy his hard cover books. So he lets people know right off the bat that he's writing about Berlin in 1936. That may have turned some readers off. Pity. They missed an extraordinary book.
Well let's see. Germany in 1936. You would have to be on Bill and Ted's Excellent Vacation or with Sean Penn at Ridgemont High to not realize that Armageddon was about to begin. So Mr. Deaver surmises, what about a plot not to assassinate Hitler (Tried that. Didn't work. Unfortunately.) but to assassinate his rearmament expert and throw the rebuilding of the Third Reich into chaos.
This is a cross between William Diehl's brilliant "Eureka" and an Allan Furst novel. It's a great period piece and Deaver generously sprinkles innocent reminders for us throughout the book. Cars. Travel by ship. Newspapers. Clothing. Hats. Brands of cigarettes. Drinks. Hostesses.
And of course the center of all this is Paul Schumann, a tough Humphrey Bogart like hit man who truly - corny as it sounds - is about to discover that there is something Homeric about him.
Every great detective story needs a great cop and here it's Willi Kohl, hot on the heels of Paul Schumann, who also is about to discover the hero within. Great stuff. I hope Paul Schumann returns. 5 stars. Larry Scantlebury
I was very wary when I got this when I realized it was NOT part of the teriffic Lincoln Rhyme series,,, am uneasy when an author leaves a great subject to branch out in a new direction: does anyone remember how utterly AWFUL Patricia Cornwell's Isle of Dogs was when she dropped Kay Scarpetta? This one started out sort of dull, but grabbed me when I got into it...I am in my seventies and old enough to relate to most of this. It is a great read!!!
Deaver's words ricochet like wild bullets from page to
page in this pre-war 'Hitler's Germany' novel. Read the professional reviews to get the story; this review is about the man and his book. I should imagine that a book and its author are like father and child. Jeffrey, you can be very proud of this particular one. You tickled the imagination from the first word with a complex hero-villain and almost immediately presented the reader with a dilemma. Are we for or against this anti-hero who kills; but only evil people? Is killing not evil no matter whom he kills?
Paul Schumann...a button man...a taker of life. Careful, clever, precise...turns to ice on his assignments so he doesn't feel...the only feeling is that in killing his prey, doing his job, finishing his assignment...all business and a 'righteous' deed.
Perfect prose, jarring jousting, slippery schemes, cunning coup d'tats, deceitful and daring deeds, military mysteries, scientific slayings and evil most egregious...this and more as this 'child' of Deaver's grows: we walk the streets in bright sunlight and the darkness of night, see sights of beauty and despair, the sweet smell of flowers and the sordid stink of Berlin.
We admire Kohl, the staunch German policeman following Paul and several times hold our breath as they almost come face to face. He is the relentless and most clever and analytical; pursuer of Paul as the murder suspect; and Paul in turn is pursuing the man he is committed to kill.
How can we not love Otto; the man of innumerable contacts, the man who has a plan for everything and a way to achieve it. And Kathe who indroduces Paul to the GARDEN OF BEASTS in a shocking but memorable way.
Of course we meet Himmler, Goring, Goebbels and he whom they call The Leader; the former paper hanger himself: Adolph Hitler.
And as Deaver's child is growing we come to his maturity in a truly brilliant, unexpected, and very fulfilling closure. Only Jeffrey Deaver with his genius for weaving together characters and plot could slowly, carefully and cleary bring such a magnificent story to a totaly surpising yet satisfying ending.
If it is somewhat true that an author and his book are like father and child; then I sincerely hope that Jeffrey Deaver will continue to be a prolific parent and supply us with many more hours of enjoyment. If you have not read TWISTED make that the next Deaver thriller you pick up.
Read and enjoy! And thank you Jeffrey for another great one!
Garden of the Human Heart
There are many reasons to recommend Jeffrey Deaver's, "Garden of Beasts," the first among them being it is a good story, well told.
Mr. Deaver has taken a few fictionalized days in the history of the real, mixed compelling characters and events, forced us to confront both the malign and altruistic workings of the human heart, and the corruption of an entire nation - quite a weighty accomplishment.
"Garden of Beasts," is a cat-and-mouse page turner pitting a German-American "button man" with a heart of gold, and searching for redemption, against an intrepid German detective - also with a heart of gold - in the milieu of pre-War Nazi Berlin. Also featured are American politicians and industrialists, the hierarchy of the Nazi Party, innocents struggling to keep body and soul together, and the petty criminals that make their living in a society turned topsy-turvy. One of these criminals - oddly enough also with a heart of gold - helps add an element of "buddy story" to the whole. Mr. Deaver has done his research, paints a detailed picture of the city, and forces us to confront the manipulative rot of Nazism that uses fear and bigotry to corrupt an entire country. He does a remarkable job of showing us the beast in humanity, and humanity in the beast - to the extent that I wondered if some might find the monsters a little too likable. Not to fear, though, Mr. Deaver - at least in this book - is nothing if not a moralist of high order.
Recommended as a page-turner, and as an insightful study of good, evil, and the land that lies between.
It's 1936 - In Berlin, Germany - and You Are There!!!!!
I had come to expect a certain type of novel from this author (one that gives you trouble sleeping) and was delighted to find that he is much more than a one trick pony. In Garden of Beasts, Deaver takes us back to 1936 and I mean he takes us back. Edward R. Murrow used to have a television show, as I recall, entitled "You are There." in which the viewer was taken back to an historic event. Well, after reading this book, you will have a pretty clear picture of Germany in the days of the Hitler ascendancy. It is not a pretty picture.
Paul Schumann, a NY mob hitman is given the choice of going to prison or traveling to Germany to asassinate one of Hitlers most important ministers. If he does so and makes his way out, he is promised money and a new life by our government. Shumann opts for a future which does not involve prison.
Traveling as a reporter to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Schumann is not even off the boat before things start happening which complicate his life and his task. And it just keeps getting more complicated. Let Deaver take you by the hand as you traverse the Garden of Beasts. You will hate to put the book down, look forward to returning to the story and will appreciate the well thought out ending.