Excerpt from The Night Gardener by George Pelecanos, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Night Gardener

By George Pelecanos

The Night Gardener
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  • Hardcover: Aug 2006,
    384 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2007,
    364 pages.

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Tonight, wearing the blue, the badge and gun, standing next to a guy he would have ridiculed a few years back, now his contemporary, it felt like he had been free.

"...and she drops a bomb on me. Tells me she likes me and all that bulljive, but she's dating one of the Redskins, too."

"Joe Jacoby?" said Ramone, side-glancing Holiday. "Nah, not that beast." "So who?"

"A receiver. And not Donnie Warren, if you catch my drift."

"You're saying she's dating a black receiver." "One of 'em," said Holiday. "And you know they like white girls."

"Who doesn't," said Ramone. Over the crackle of the radios coming from the cars they heard Cook telling one of the men in his squad to keep the Channel 4 reporter, who was attempting to move under the tape, away from the deceased. "Punk motherfucker," said Cook, saying it loud, making sure the reporter could hear. "He's the one got that witness killed down in Congress Park. Goes on the air and talks about how a young lady's about to give testimony... "

"I had a problem with what she told me, I gotta be honest," said Holiday, watching Cook but going ahead with his story.

"'Cause he's black." "I can't lie.It was hard for me to forget him and her after that.When I was in the rack with her, is what I'm talkin about." "You felt, what, inadequate or somethin?"

"Come on. Pro football player, a brother ... " Holiday held his palm out a foot from his groin."Guy' s gotta be like this." "It's an NFL requirement."

"Huh?" "They check their teeth, too." "I'm sayin, I'm just an average guy. Down there, I mean. Don't get me wrong; it's Kielbasa Street when the blood gets to it, but when it's just layin there-"

"What's your point?" "Knowin this girl was hanging off the end of this guy's dick, it just ruined her for me, I guess." "So you what, let her go?"

"Not with that ass of hers, I wasn't gonna let her go.No, sir." A woman had wandered under the tape while they were talking, and as she approached the body of the girl and got a look at it, she vomited voluminously into the grass. Sergeant Cook removed his hat, ran a finger along the brim, and breathed deeply. He replaced the Stetson on his head, adjusted it, and allowed his eyes to search the perimeter of the scene. He turned to the man beside him, a white detective named Chip Rogers, and pointed to Ramone and Holiday.

"Tell those white boys to do their jobs," said Cook.

"People regurgitatin, fucking up my crime scene ...If they can't keep these folks back, find some men who will.I'm not playin."

Ramone and Holiday immediately went to the yellow tape, turned their backs to it, and affected a pose of authority.Holiday spread his feet and looped his fingers through his utility belt, unfazed by Cook's words.Ramone' s jaw tightened as he felt a twinge of anger at being called a white boy by the homicide cop. He had heard it occasionally growing up outside D.C. and many times while playing baseball and basketball in the city proper. He didn't like it.He knew it was meant to cut him and he was expected to take it, and that made it burn even more.

"How about you?" said Holiday. "How 'bout me what?" said Ramone.

"You been gettin any hay for your donkey?" Ramone did not answer. He had his eye on one woman in particular, a cop, God help him. But he had learned not to let Holiday into his personal world.

"C'mon, brother," said Holiday. "I showed you mine, now you show me yours. You got someone in your gun sights?" "Your baby sister," said Ramone.

Copyright © 2006 by George P. Pelecanos

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