Summary and book reviews of The Night Gardener by George Pelecanos

The Night Gardener

by George Pelecanos

The Night Gardener
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2006, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2007, 364 pages

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Book Summary

The haunting story of three cops—one good, one bad, one broken—and the murder that reunited them in a showdown decades in the making.

Gus Ramone is "good police," a former Internal Affairs investigator now working homicide for the city's Violent Crime branch. His new case involves the death of a local teenager named Asa whose body has been found in a local community garden.

The murder unearths intense memories of a case Ramone worked as a patrol cop twenty years earlier, when he and his partner, Dan "Doc" Holiday, assisted a legendary detective named T. C. Cook. The series of murders, all involving local teenage victims, was never solved. In the years since, Holiday has left the force under a cloud of morals charges, and now finds work as a bodyguard and driver. Cook has retired, but he has never stopped agonizing about the "Night Gardener" killings.

The new case draws the three men together on a grim mission to finish the work that has haunted them for years. All the love, regret, and anger that once burned between them comes rushing back, and old ghosts walk once more as the men try to lay to rest the monster who has stalked their dreams. Bigger and even more unstoppable than his previous thrillers, George Pelecanos achieves in The Night Gardener what his brilliant career has been building toward: a novel that is a perfect union of suspense, character, and unstoppable fate.

ONE

THE CRIME SCENE was in the low 30s around E, on the edge of Fort Dupont Park, in a neighborhood known as Greenway, in the 6th District section of Southeast D.C. A girl of fourteen lay in the grass on the side of a community vegetable garden that was blind to the residents whose yards backed up to the nearby woods. There were colorful beads in her braided hair. She appeared to have died from a single gunshot wound to the head. A middle-aged homicide police was down on one knee beside her, staring at her as if he were waiting for her to awake. His name was T. C. Cook. He was a sergeant with twenty-four years on the force, and he was thinking.

His thoughts were not optimistic. There was no visible blood on or around the girl, with the exception of the entrance and exit wounds, now congealed. No blood at all on her shirt, jeans, or sneakers, all of which looked to be brand-new. Cook surmised that she had been undressed and re-...

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Reviews

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Pelecanos's Washington is not the glamorous side of politics and money but the other side of the city, which is so often portrayed in one dimension; Pelecanos shows us the usual aspects, such as the inner city schools, the garbage and the guns, but he takes us deeper to meet the parents who care for and worry about their children; and children who, despite their outward appearance, want to respect their parents.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews

The Washington Post - Stephen Amidon

Pelecanos once again shows himself to have ambitions far beyond simply creating a first-rate thriller....Few other writers working today are able to depict both the lurid realm of street crime and the quiet aspirations of domestic life with such a deft touch.

The New York Times - Janet Maslin

The Night Gardener is another of Mr. Pelecanos’s beautifully delineated moral tales, filled with gut-wrenching turns of fate and razor-sharp, boisterously vivid characters.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Pelecanos (Drama City) delivers a dignified, character-driven epic that succeeds as both literary novel and page-turner.

Library Journal

[Pelecanos] manages to weave several threads perfectly into the larger story. Another winner from arguably our best contemporary crime writer

Booklist

Starred Review. One thinks of Michael Connelly, John Harvey, and Ian Rankin--other writers able to look inside their cop heroes with remarkable sensitivity--but Pelecanos' scalpel may cut more precisely than any of them

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

George P. Pelecanos was born in Washington, D.C. in 1957. He worked as a line cook, dishwasher, bartender, shoe salesman, electronics salesman, and construction worker before publishing his first novel in 1992. He is the author of fourteen crime/noir novels to date, all set in and around Washington, D.C. In addition to his books and various works of short fiction he has also produced three feature films, Caught (1996), Whatever (1998) and Blackmale (1999), and is a staff writer and story editor for the HBO series, The Wire. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife and three children.

Bibliography

Nick Stefanos series
A Firing Offense (1992)
Nick's Trip (1993)
Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go (...

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