German-American Paul Schumann is one of those people who reside on the fringes of society. He is a World War I infantry veteran, occasional freelance sports writer and owner of a seedy boxing gym in New York City. But his main income comes from his occasional jobs as a button man (contract killer) for the local mob. While in the trenches of France he learned to become an excellent shot and to compartmentalize his conscience which enabled him to unemotionally kill an enemy without guilt while at the same time remaining a caring and otherwise law abiding human being. Schumann has a strict code and will only kill other murderers. He will accept an assignment from one mob boss to kill another boss or one of their enforcers but he will not accept any assignments to kill innocent people who have simply run afoul of the mob. Schumann is also a very careful and thorough man. When he accepts a job he studies the target and the target's habits carefully and then moves in for a quick, clean kill leaving no evidence behind.
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Schumann's murder for hire activities bring him to the attention of others besides mob bosses. Tom Dewey, the ambitious prosecutor is one and Naval Intelligence is another. Concerned about the rise of Hitler, a U.S. Senator, a wealthy businessman and James Gordon of Naval Intelligence hatch a plan to assassinate Reinhard Ernst, a retired Army colonel from World War I who is currently the man behind Germany's secret re-armament. The three plotters feel that by publically assassinating Ernst during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin they can slow down Hitler's plan to re-arm Germany and postpone or avoid another war. In addition to Paul's expert marksman skills and professionalism as a button man, he is also fluent in German which makes him ideal for the assignment. Paul is given a choice, either be turned over to Tom Dewey and go to the electric chair for his crimes or accept this assignment. In addition having his record wiped clean, he will be provided with an escape from Germany and $10,000 (a fortune in the Depression Era) to start his new life. Paul accepts the assignment and is given the name of a contact, Reggie Morgan, who will assist him in Berlin and passage on the boat carrying the American Olympic team and their fans to Germany. His cover is that of a freelance sportswriter covering the Olympics.
Once in Berlin, Paul makes contact with, Reggie Morgan but another fellow appears on the scene and Morgan is forced to shoot him. Paul and Reggie flee and, after agreeing on a meeting place, separate. While fleeing, Paul comes upon a group of Hitler's Brown Shirts beating up an elderly bookseller and his wife. This is Paul's first glimpse of the horrors of the Third Reich and, without hesitating, he steps in to defend the bookseller. He dispatches the thugs but has to run for his life as reinforcements approach. In doing so, he runs into Otto Webber, man similar to himself who lives on the edges of the law, who leads him safely away from the pursuing Brown Shirts.
As Paul makes his preparations for the assassination of Ernst he begins to see the pervasive evil of the Nazi regime and his assignment becomes a cause rather than simply a means out of his unfortunate situation. However, treachery and the use of innocent people as pawns in a power game are not limited to Nazi Germany as Paul suddenly discovers that one of the three behind his mission has a different agenda which involves killing Paul in an attempt to win Hitler's friendship and thereby avoid war. Paul discovers that he has been set-up and that his handler is not Reggie Morgan but another American agent posing as Reggie and intent on betraying Paul.
The review of this Book prepared by Chuck Nugent
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 forty-eight 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.
The review of this Book prepared by danzel
Simon & Schuster, Jul 2004, 432 pp.
In 1936, contract freelance hit man Paul Schumann tries to kill a man named Malone, but the mark is not here. Paul realizes he has been set up and the subsequent phone call tells him that twelve armed men wait for him to throw his two guns out the window to remove his jacket, and wait for their entry with his hands up if he wants to survive.
Navy Intelligence Officer Bull Gordon gives Paul a choice. If he refuses, they have evidence to prove he murdered people, which would lead to at least life in Sing Sing that is if they do not turn him into cement. Paul accepts their kind offer to go to Berlin to kill Colonel Ernst, Hitler's brilliant militarization expert.
Disguised as a reporter covering the Olympics, Paul sails across the Atlantic, but a Nazi undercover agent believes he might be a paid assassin. Paul kills the spy, but not before word reaches Berlin. When he kills a second person in the German capital, Police Inspector Kohl is on his crowded trail loaded with Nazis wanting to kill Paul before he completes his mission.
The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner