• Garden of Beasts

  • A Novel of Berlin 1936
  • By: Jeffery Deaver
  • Narrated by: Jefferson Mays
  • Length: 13 hrs and 20 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (2,573 ratings)

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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 listeners say about Garden of Beasts

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  • Overall
    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

85 people found this helpful

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  • ES
  • 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.

58 people found this 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.

29 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.

24 people found this 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:)

16 people found this helpful

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"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.

10 people found this helpful

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Excellent from the first page

Captivating from page one with unexpected twists and well developed characters. Highly recommend - worth 2 credits.

7 people found this helpful

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Audiobooks this good are not easy to find.

Personally, I enjoyed this story more than anything written by Le Carre, Deighton, or Forsyth. And the narrator's accents, cadences, nuances of emphasis were done masterfully.

5 people found this helpful

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No Translation Necessary

I particularly enjoyed this book, but one thing always distracted me: many German words were translated. This is a book of Nazi Germany. It is the Third Reich, not the Third Empire. Grunenstrasse is Green Street, not Grunen Street, but should be left in German. Riechsfuhrer-SS is not Chief of Police, Unter den Linden should be called that, not Under the Lindens, etc.

I enjoyed the characters and the plot progressed well.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Exciting listen

Fast paced, exciting listen with some fun twists and turns. Deaver is master of the dark and unpredictable and this is no exception. At least one of the twists was a little hard to swallow and there were a few loose ends dangling, so I marked it down a star, but it's still a fun book and much better than most pulp fiction.

Also exceptional was his masterful use of patwa from the 30s and his fun references to iconic products and name brands from that era.

Reader was ok, but his constant mispronunciation of "heil Hitler" and a couple other words were annoying. Still he kept the story moving and did impressions fairly well.

4 people found this helpful