Garden of Beasts

by

Author: Jeffrey Deaver

Title: Garden of Beasts

Genre: Adventure, Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 11 discs

Geographical Setting: New York City, New York; Berlin, Germany; other various

Time Period: 1936

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:  When hitman Paul Schumann finds himself caught in a sting set up by New York City police, he recognizes that his luck has run out.  Preparing himself to be tried, jailed and probably executed, Schumann is surprised when he is given a choice: instead of facing the consequences in America, he can work a job for the American government and assassinate a political leader in the burgeoning Nazi government.  When he accepts, Schumann is sent off on a wild and crazy ride through Berlin where he meets local characters, beautiful women, and the most dangerous and evil villains in the world at that time.  Narrated by several characters other than Schumann, including a German police detective hot on Schumann’s heels and the object of Schumann’s assassination plot, the audio book version’s performer Jefferson Mays does a decent job of differentiating between characters and uses accents to provide local color.

Subject Headings: Mafia hitman; Nazi Germany; German Olympics; Adolf Hitler; Jesse Owens; Assassination plot; Detectives; Anti-semitism

 Appeal: Builds in intensity, engrossing, fast-paced, atmospheric, dangerous, dramatic, menacing atmosphere, stark, detailed characters, flawed characters, strong secondary characters, multiple points of view, action-oriented, character-centered, cinematic, investigative, multiple plot lines, plot twists, thought-provoking, detailed setting, historical details, political, unpretentious language, jargon

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Builds in intensity, flawed characters, historical details

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

A piece of narrative nonfiction, this title describes the lives of the William E. Dodd, the American ambassador to the Third Reich, and his family as they lived in Berlin during the period before World War II.  Figuring in the story also are the characters of Göring and Goebbels who are featured in Jeffrey Deaver’s novel of almost the same title.

Hitman: The Untold Story of Johnny Martorano: Whitey Bulger’s Enforcer and the Most Feared Gangster in the Underworld by Howie Carr

This biography of Johnny Martorano, a hitman for the mob tells the story of life for a real hitman.  It also discusses the knowledge of some politicians and the FBI of Martorano’s activities.  This mirrors Schumann’s eventual connection to political and law enforcement organizations as well as giving more information about his line of work.

Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany by Robert Gellately

This title discusses and rejects the idea that the German population as a whole knew nothing about the atrocities committed by Hitler and his minions.  It discusses this point of view using primary sources including case studies and news sources.  Some of the terms and ideas touched on in Garden of Beasts are presented and expounded upon in this book.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Game of Lies by Rebecca Cantrell

The third in a series about German crime reporter Hannah Vogel, this title takes place during the 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Berlin, Germany.  This historical mystery shares a time period and setting with Garden of Beasts.

Casino Royale: a James Bond novel by Ian Fleming

This first James Bond novel has 007 taking on the Soviet Union.  It includes many elements similar to Deaver’s Garden of Beasts including adventure, international intrigue and assassins and is written with a fast-paced and suspenseful style.

Killing Castro by Lawrence Block

This novel, written in 1961 tells the story of 5 Americans offered $20,000 to kill Fidel Castro.  The fast-paced suspense story includes multiple plot lines and a suspenseful feel that may appeal to fans of Garden of Beasts.

Name: Christi H.

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