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'Garden Of Beasts'

In his first piece of historical fiction, bestselling author Jeffery Deaver pits his usual cast of characters against the Nazis during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Deaver's 19th novel is aptly titled, "Garden Of Beasts."

Like his other protagonists, his new hero, Paul Schumann, has a twisted sense of morality.

"He's a righteous hit man," Deaver tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler. "He only kills other killers. Of course, he's the hero in the book and I want him to be a popular, well-liked kind of guy. I introduce a lot of layers of what I'd call moral ambiguity in it. All the Germans aren't bad. All the Americans aren't good. I try to create the sense of realism in the book."

Schumann is a killer by trade or in 1930s' jargon, a "button man" for the mob. He is caught by the Feds and given two options: assassinate Reinhardt Ernst, the mastermind behind the Nazi military buildup, in return for a full pardon, or life in prison.

The book took Deaver twice as long to write as his previous ones. "I got the idea a few years ago and I thought, this will be a fun book to write," he says. "Well, when you go back in time, you've got to get all your details 100 percent right. So I did basically two years of research on this book."

It was the events of Sept. 11 that inspired him to add more realism into his work.

He explains, "I've done books about serial killers and homicidal kidnappers and so forth. I won't do them again. I thought my readers might enjoy a book that would institutionalize evil. The villain 'Garden of Beasts' is the entire Nazi regime. A little different from what I've written in the past."

And yet it allowed him to offer readers another suspenseful roller-coaster ride. He says, "'Garden of Beasts' is typical of my thrillers. It takes place over about 48 hours - lots of twists and turns, big surprise ending, and yet, another surprise ending, on the last two pages, yet another big whammy ending."

Read an excerpt from Chapter One.

Deaver is best known for his Lincoln Rhymes books, including: "The Vanished Man" published last year, and "The Bone Collector," which was made into a film starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. In some circles, especially those of loyal CBS soap opera viewers, Deaver may also be known for his cameo appearance in "As The World Turns."

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