Read The Night Gardener by George P. Pelecanos Online

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Back in the winter of 1985, someone was taking teenagers, killing them and leaving their abused bodies in public parks. 20 years on, and it seems the killer has struck once more....

Title : The Night Gardener
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780753822111
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 379 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Night Gardener Reviews

  • Dan Schwent
    2019-01-17 10:14

    In the bygone age of 1985, detective TC Cooke, with young cops Gus Ramone and Dan Holiday in tow, tried to save a string of murders dubbed the Palindrome Killer, aka the Night Gardener, and failed. Twenty years later, a murder with the same telltale characteristics occurs. Has the killer resurfaced? And can the three men, now in vastly different lives, crack the case?The Night Gardener is a police procedural mystery set in Washington DC. At least, at first glance. It's really the tale of fathers and sons, secrets, and redemption. Gus Ramone, a veteran homicide cop, has his life shaken when a friend of his young son's turns up dead of a gunshot wound in a community garden. Since the young man's name is Asa and the situation is similar to the decades old Palindrome Killer crime, the police speculate there is a link. Retired cop TC Cooke and disgraced former cop Dan Holiday both get wind of it and launch an investigation of their own. Couple that with the story of some rival gangsters and a briefcase of stolen money and it's off to the races.Much like the rest of George Pelecanos' novels, music, basketball, and car talk are often featured in the dialogue. Derek Strange's wife and dog make cameo appearances, as does Pelecanos himself as an unnamed passenger in a limo driven by Holiday. I kept waiting for one of the characters to get a drink at The Spot so would could check in with Nick Stefanos but it was not to be. Pelecanos revisits familiar themes like racism and what it's like to grow up black and poor in Washington DC.As usual, his characters come right off the page. Ramone wants more than anything to keep his family safe. Holiday wants a chance at redemption. Cooke wants to solve the case that haunted the final days of his career. Even the bad guys were far from one dimensional. Several knew they were in over their heads and acted accordingly.The revelation about Asa's death and what led him down that road were pretty hard hitting. The big gunfight was even more brutal than I thought it was going to be. The ending for the rest of the characters wasn't what I was expecting but was fitting.Every time I return to the Washington DC of George Pelecanos, it's like I never left. As usual, Pelecanos kept me entertained for the duration. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

  • Orsodimondo
    2018-12-26 07:02

    OMICIDI PALINDROMIAveva spalle ampie e squadrate, il viso gradevole, con gli zigomi in parte coperti da lunghe treccine. Gli occhi erano di un marrone intenso ma poco espressivi, l’ideale per un tassidermista.”L’imbalsamatore” di Matteo Garrone, 2002.Mi piace come scrive George Pelacanos.Le sue crime novel sono diverse: hanno un ritmo andante, che sa prendersi il giusto tempo per costruire atmosfera situazione caratteri, senza fretta senza strappi senza salti.Mi piace che non usi effetti, men che meno effettacci, che non sprechi il sangue, che risparmi sui pezzetti di cervello fatti saltare in aria da una pallottola.Mi piace che le sue storie, anche se parlano di droga, crimine, violenza, che non sono tanto la mia quotidianità, sembrino così verosimili, e così credibili.Mi piace che i suoi personaggi abbiano un’età e la dimostrino, che siano a volte coi fianchi larghi, a volte calvi, a volte bassi, a volte magri allampanati, e non sempre semidei come nei libri di Don Winslow o Jefferson Parker.Mi piace che tratti le donne come gli uomini, e non con il machismo solito di questo genere di letteratura.Mi piace che i suoi libri siano tutti ambientati a Washington.E mi piace la sua insistenza nel descrivere percorsi stradali, toponomastica, architettura urbana, arredamento, modelli di automobili e altri aspetti che potrebbero sembrare marginali.Mi piace perché il Male nei suoi libri non è sovrumano, diabolico, infernale, ma sembra che abiti nella porta accanto.Mi piace perché mi sembra diverso, fuori dal coro.

  • Greg
    2018-12-27 06:59

    The side of me that can get sucked into watching a Law and Order: (X)* and then watch the next eight episodes also airing that day enjoyed this book. The part of me that feels disgusted with myself after an orgy of Dick Wolf created police procedurals didn't care for this book so much. Reading the police procedural stuff I could feel the critical part of my mind snapping off. I'm surprised that I didn't leave the subway coming home last night with paper cuts from turning the pages so fast. I can usually read fifteen to thirty pages on my commute, and I read twenty pages of this book on the first morning I brought it to work on the train. But last night I clocked in fifty-five pages, without any delays. The book had the satisfaction of a sugar rush though. There was promise of more than cheap entertainment here, but it never really developed. Pelecanos can do better than this, and the other novels of his that I read do do (hahaha, I said do do, like poo) better than this one. Not that this book is bad, it's very entertaining, but it's not good. The police stuff is ok, but in a post Homicide/The Wire (ok not post The Wire but The Wire was already in full swing when this book came out) there needs to be more. More what? I don't really know, I don't normally read this stuff, but portraying cops are regular folks with there own good and bad sides and all of that can only be taken so far, there needs to be something else behind the story, and in this book the story seemed to never really catch. Although, even without a satisfying story this was still a very entertaining book to read. * where X stands for either the original LAO or any of the spin-offs.

  • Larry Bassett
    2018-12-21 05:20

    “That was Freda Payne, and I don’t care what she did,” said Bonano. He blew into a deck of Marlboro Lights and watched as the filtered end of one popped out. “She didn’t do this.” Standard George Pelecanos cigarette extraction. Even in The Night Gardener with none of the usual Greek suspects. But we find the metro DC police, serial murders and teenagers in troubled waters. As usual.But wait, here is Derek Strange on page 152. Now I am beginning to feel comfortable. This is the Pelecanos that I love. And there is the dog Greco, a boxer, following close behind. Just like I remembered. Now we’re getting somewhere!Pelecanos doesn’t mind staking out a political or social position occasionally. And it doesn’t hurt that I usually agree with him. I like an author who is on the correct side of the issues! But you know, locking people up willy-nilly for drugs doesn’t do shit but destroy families and turn citizens against the police. And I’m not talking about criminals. I’m talking about law-abiding citizens, ‘cause it seems like damn near everyone in low-income D.C. got a relative or friend who’s been locked up on drug charges. Used to be, folks could be friendly with police. Now we’re the enemy. The drug war ruined policing, you ask me. And it made the streets more dangerous for cops. Any way you look at it, it’s wrong.And some sociology of homosexuality in the black community that even Pelecanos, who often alludes to topical issues, had avoided thus far. This is a bold move, if somewhat delayed, in this book published in 2006.“Black teenagers do commit suicide. Matter of fact, the suicide rate of black teenagers is on the upswing. One of the benefits of being admitted to the middle and upper class. You know, the cost of money. Not to mention easy access to guns. And a lot of black gay kids just know they’re never gonna be accepted. Part of it’s that unspoken thing in our culture. Some of my people gonna forgive you for just about anything, except that one thing, you know what I’m saying?“Another Pelecanos specialty found in every book: the moment of death from the inside. No afterlife. Dunne listened to the crickets and stared up at the branches and the stars. I cannot die, he thought. But soon the sensations of sound and sight faded to nothing, and Grady Dunne joined Raymond Benjamin and Romeo Brock in death. And another Pelecanos specialty: ambiguous guys. Not really bad guys but not totally good guys either. George Pelecanos writes about people with dreams as well as nightmares. And what about Derek Strange and Greco and Janine on page 152? It turns out they were just there in a sentimental cameo appearance. But there was some real sentimentality at the end of the book. Soon it began to drizzle for the second time that night. The drops grew heavier and became visible in the headlights of the cars. It was said by some of the police on the scene that God was crying for the girl in the garden. To others, it was only rain.

  • Jeff
    2018-12-28 10:55

    This was my first time reading George Pelecanos. This is a cross between Elmore Leonard and Richard Price. It has Leonard’s knack for bold characterization and sharp dialogue combined with Price’s gift for storytelling in an urban setting.A serial killer, who killed three victims twenty years before has apparently struck again. This brings together a disparate group of characters and storylines. The murder is just a framing device for one of the best novels I’ve read this year. It’s a story that takes unexpected twists and turns. A story that is at times moving, at times violent.On the cover of this edition of the book, Stephen King says of Pelecanos: “Perhaps the greatest living American Crime Writer”. Mr. King, in this book, Mr. Pelecanos rises above any genre.

  • Melissa
    2019-01-07 07:13

    This almost turned out to be The Little Friend of Pelecanos books, but much like that one, the pleasure was all in the journey & not in trying to figure out who the night gardener really was or just who was killing those kids with the palindromic names. I left the obsession to the police & sat back & enjoyed the ride. I went about it backwards a bit with this guy, reading his newer stuff first & saving the older for last. I'm retroactively pleased that I did it this way because if you ask me, his older work is where it's at - but here's the depressing part: I think I have two books left to read & then George & I will be parting ways for a bit. I think I'll need Wire marathon to cheer me up when that happens.

  • jo
    2019-01-12 08:59

    this is an extremely good police procedural. it is so good that it makes me less sad to have already read Lush Life, to have exhausted all episodes of The Wire, and to know that richard price won't write another epic for another few years (he ain't fast, that man). in fact, a quick perusal of his work has led me to understand that george pelecanos does not always write police procedurals, and i have made a little deal with myself that, not to spoil the pleasure of this novel, to keep it lingering on my tongue for as long as possible, i will read all of his police procedurals before i read any other of his book, if at all. because, i've realized, i like police procedurals more than any other crime&mystery writing, hands down. this is personal so i won't bore you with it. but let me tell you why this is so good.first of all, it's paradigmatic of a certain way of looking at police work in cities (it's set in D.C.) made edgy to the verge of hysteria by race, class, and the tensions of gentrification. richard price does this in Freedomland, Clockers, and Lush Life, especially the last (gentrification was not as present to the collective mind when Freedomland and Clockers were written). this paradigm looks at cops as real people with life-issues, problems, and, occasionally, serious instances of fucked-upedness. it also endeavors not to demonize cops, but to make them genuinely interested in people, including the losers they occasionally have to send to jail but would rather not. in The Wire, richard price's work, and here, cops are often lonely, often working extra jobs so they don't have to go home, often corrupt but not too much, often indulging in exploitative sexual relationships with informants, often keen on the bottle, often sexist, racists, and generally unpleasant. you don't like them but you understand them, especially when they are "good police" who care about their job more than about the politics of policing.pelecanos squeezes all these features into this book so artfully that i say this one volume exemplifies how they work (or are meant to work) together better than any of the instances i mentioned above.then there are the cops you love, lorenzo in Freedomland, matti and his female partner (what's her name?) in Lush Life, and, here, rhonda and ramone, who are, both of them, very well designed and very cool. i have to regret that these boy writers make men a lot more complex than women. in The Wire kima is a fairly complex, if not fleshed out, character, but both the female detectives in Lush Life and rhonda in The Night Gardener are wise and wise-cracking, no-nonsense female cops, tough as nails, soft as leavened dough, and way too busy to shoot the fat with the guys. they are great and you love them, but it'd be nice to move away from the stereotype.but the complexity of this story is the real treat. the layering. the interweaving of police work, personal psychology, social issues, multiple and only apparently intricate plot-lines -- all doused with hard-boiled ethical reflections on the value of childhood, parenting, and community life. nice.

  • Thanasis Papageorgiou
    2019-01-03 12:19

    7/10

  • Cathy DuPont
    2019-01-10 06:19

    My baptism to George Pelecanos and it was great. Wonderful way to join the Pelecanos GR Fan Club. He reminds me of a few writers who I already love and read much of, so no surprise how much I enjoyed Pelecanos' writing. And he's easy on the eyes too, which of course has nothing to do with his writing talent. I'm getting terrible about judging men from how they look. Nevermind, don't care, he's good looking, gals, with those big blues.A couple things are a must for me; a great dialogue, a better than average storyline and clearly drawn characters whether they are heros or the bad guy(s) and Pelecanos deserves high marks on all accounts. Will read another Pelecanos in the near future especially since I'm finishing one of my more than 15 character series that I'm reading. I think it's Matthew Hope, Ed McBain's lawyer friend. Damn, McBain has a lot of 'friends' out there.And double dog damn, someone just emailed this am saying how much they liked Pelecanos, in part because they are from DC. Ok, just who was that fine friend from this am? Come up, come up wherever you are. Got it...it was Ij; Ij's hometown is Washington, D. C. where everything happens, don't we know. I always enjoy reading a new author and if you're into Connelly, Crais, Deaver crowd, you'll like George. We're now on a first name basis and I want to get to know him better.

  • John Culuris
    2019-01-10 09:24

    ★ ★ ★ 1/2My first non-series Pelecanos. The return of a serial killer after twenty years of dormancy brings together three men: a detective and two former cops, one retired, one forced out. Perhaps because of my preference for series characters, I closed this book thinking, Interesting but not great. Yet there is no denying Pelecanos’s brilliance as a writer, particularly with street-level life. His average is still better than most. I’ll end up reading all of his work eventually, series or not.

  • Rachel Elizabeth
    2019-01-15 13:02

    I have found my personal literary grail: a worthy fictional successor to David Simon's Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. When it comes to (East Coast) urban noir, this is the best of the best.

  • Josh
    2019-01-01 08:19

    Crime in a George Pelecanos novel is so confronting and unnerving that it is almost as unsettling as reading true-crime. His depictions of squalor, violence, bangers, urban poverty, and police procedures are as real and engrossing as his characters. In THE NIGHT GARDNER, Pelecanos delivers everything I’ve come to expect – deep characterisation, a free flowing yet multidimensional plot and most of all, pure noir amongst a backdrop of a heinous crime. Adding yet another string to this impressive bow, is the sense of continuity with Gus and Doc living in the same fictional world as Derek Strange (Quinn and Strange PI novels) and the criminal known as Red Fury (WHAT IT WAS) of which the wannabe gangers of THE NIGHT GARDNER idolise with a deluded sense of hero-worship.Detective Gus Ramone, haunted and a little segregated from the inner circle of policing due to his sting in IA is tasked with solving a homicide of a young man which has similar hallmarks to a string of murders 20yrs ago. Back then, Gus as a green beat cop along with Doc were in awe of the T.C. Cook, a solid detective with an exception case closure rate. Fast forward to present day, Gus is now a leading homicide police, Doc is driving cars after a less than honourable discharge from the force and Cook is retired and on his last legs – yet all three become reunited by a crime never solved which seems to have surfaced once again. THE NIGHT GARNDER, while predominantly a police procedural with noir trappings is really about character and the challenges that face inner city living minorities and heartache. Gus, a father first, sees this latest crime hit too close to home with the latest vic, Asa, a boyhood friend of his teenage son. Coupled with that loss is the undercurrent of racial vilification at the school Gus’ son attends and other such incidences which threaten to send Gus’ family into a downward spiral. While Doc, a cop turned driver turned bordering alcoholic, the chance to be involved in a real case literally falls in his lap. Adding to the discovery of the body is a shady recollection through a drink infused haze which also threatens to test the mantle of another cop who may or may not have been in the vicinity of the crime when it was committed. Doc, seeks out Cook in a bid to right his wrong and shine his somewhat tarnished rep that forced him out of policing and finally put a stop to the killings. THE NIGHT GARDNER is one of the best novels I’ve read by Pelecanos. He manages to create a real sense of time and place, putting the reader inside the shoes of Gus, Doc, and others. While THE NIGHT GARNDER is a standalone, I found it beneficial and more enjoyable having read WHAT IT WAS prior, as the character Red Fury, eluted to in THE NIGHT GARNDER is seen in a whole new light having read about his escapades and criminal legend in the Derek Strange novel. In summary – a must read for fans of Derek Strange, Washington D.C. crime fiction, THE WIRE, and noir. 5 stars. View more on my blog: http://justaguythatlikes2read.blogspo...

  • L
    2019-01-09 10:14

    This is a many layered book. The mystery itself is a fine one, one whose ending I didn't see coming. (But then, I'm not one who usually guesses "who done it," anyhow, probably because that's not why I read mysteries.) Other twists were more obvious, but no less enjoyable for that; they're well done. It's the other layers--character, fatherhood, love (and lack thereof), relationships among co-worker cops, the city itself--with which Pelecanos works his greatest magic. The young men in this novel, the problems that beset them, and their responses to life ring exceptionally true. Youth are neither patronized nor romanticized, but respected as full-fledged characters. Finally, there is the matter of race relations in a complex setting & situation. Pelecanos does seem to give the cops a break here, with very little explicit racism on the part of the police. Those who beat & back-shoot African American men don't make an appearance, although to be fair the novel is set in DC, not Miami, LA, or Cleveland, and a number of the police in question are themselves African Amerian. The racial honesty shows in Ramone's ruminations on race here and there throughout the novel. As with the youth, this white character is not romanticized, but portrayed straight-on. I don't know that this is the model for socially conscious detective novels, as Laura Lippman suggests in her comments, but it is close enough to have reminded me of why I took up with those in the first place. It's less explicitly political than Paretsky's work or Burke's "Tin Roof," yet as surprising in its way as Connelly's "Angels Flight" was . . . a sort of gritty member of this family.

  • Brandi
    2019-01-14 10:01

    I read this book initially thinking it was a classic/thriller mystery but was sorely disappointed. The crux of the story didn't actually develop until over 150 pages. There was a lot of time spent on crude, back and forth dialogue between the police characters that felt more like screenwriting than a novel. Rather than providing a resolution to the crime mystery that was presented, the book becomes more of a fable on what it really means to celebrate diversity and waxes philosophical about the meaning of success. While I think these are great points to make, they seemed better suited for a blog.

  • Matt
    2019-01-14 12:09

    I've been a Pelecanos fan for a long while so I might be biased but I think this might be one of his very best. What started as a slow (and fairly standard) police procedural evolved into something utterly brilliant that delivered a gut punch of an ending that left me reeling and reflective. Highly recommended.

  • Tina
    2019-01-13 09:13

    I am a die hard fan of the HBO series The Wire. i have always maintained that that tv show "read" more like a novel than it did a typical tv show. It had characters with depth, there were no good guys and bad guys only people who were varying shades of grey. It had layers and a definite, recognizable signature of style and storytelling.So it is no surprise that a book by George Pelecanos, a contributing writer for that show, would also showcase many of the things that make the show so compelling.This story is at once a murder mystery, a police procedural, a set of character studies and a little dash of domestic drama. The central story of the murder of a teenage boy seems, at first, to be straightforward enough. Years ago, a killer known as the Palindrome Murderer (his victim's names spelled the same forward and back) eluded the police. Now 20 years later, the police wonder if he has returned because the newest murder victim, also discovered in the same way as those other victims, has a name that is spelled the same forward and back.In the 20 year time, the three cops who were at the scene of the last known palindrome murder have all had very different life trajectories. Seargent Cooke, who headed the investigations at the time, has since retired and spends his days in boring loneliness but still thinks, almost obsessively, about the case he could never solve. Dan "Doc" Holiday was drummed out the of the force and now owns a chauffeur & bodyguard business and sees this at his chance at redemption. And then there is Gus Ramone, a straight arrow who has worked his way up the ranks and who has a very specific interest in the newest murder because the victim is a good friend of his own teen aged son.What follows is the story of how these three, in their own way, pursue the case and then reconnect. Interspersed in the main story are other moments of police work as well as glimpses into the home life of Gus Ramone, all worked organically into the flow of the narrative. As a whole, there is a lot more going on than just a murder case. There is a lot of story with some excellent secondary and even minor walk-on characters.Another thing that I really liked about this book is that it is set in DC which has a very large minority population and the writer does not ignore that. I have read books by writers who set their books in large urban areas that have a very sizeable minority population and not a single person in the book is a person of color. What is better is that Pelecanos is very matter of fact about race. It is isn't there to be preached about or obsessed over, it just is. These people all live there. Some comment on it, some describe others by race, some have unconscious prejudices, some don't consciously think about it, but it is there. That is true even of his treatment of Gus and his family life.One side subplot deals with Gus' determination to make sure his children attend a better school than the on they are supposed to go to. But the school they send the kids to unfortunately racially profiles in a very passive-aggressive way. Gus is married to a black woman so his kids are biracial. He and his wife struggle with the decision whether to keep their son in a school where the classes, teachers and material are better but he and other black students are singled out for minor infractions that are ignored in their white classmates or to send him back to his old school that is in decay but accepts him and where he flourishes. It isn't a heavy handed, bleeding heart subplot, but it does remind me of the excellent season 4 of The Wire where the public education system was a central theme.I was gratified with how really wonderful a read this was. The story was not predictable, the ending was somewhat surprising to me but was exactly the way it should have ended.I highly recommend!

  • Ensiform
    2018-12-31 06:14

    The body of a black teen is found with one shot to the head in a community garden. MPD homicide detective Gus Ramone’s own teen son knew the boy, and Ramone is driven to solve the case. Two ex-cops – one who quit under morals charges and one a retired legend – think this murder might be related to a series of killings twenty years earlier in which the victims were all left in gardens, and take it upon themselves to investigate, though they have no authority. In a subplot, a young banger, inspired by the legend of ‘70s bad guy Red Fury (from the Pelecanos novel What it Was), wants to go on a spree that will have people saying his name for years to come – but he may have stolen from the wrong bad guys.This is another hard-boiled, gritty, seamy-side-of-the-city crime novel from an established master. Engaging, suspenseful, and intricate, this is a page-turner from beginning to end. Phrases I’ve used to sing the praises of Pelecanos’ unflinching prose in earlier novels also apply here: he “creates a grim tableau of the modern city and its culture of poverty, crime, and drugs;” he “delivers the seedy underbelly of DC without rose-colored glasses or glorification;” he “knows DC streets, restaurant culture, the way criminals move and talk, types of weapons, and all the other little details that bring characters and plots to life.” I repeat myself because with every book, he proves again that he can deliver the human side of crime: the problems in the school system that foster cycles of ignorance and violence, the culture of expensive clothes and hyper-masculinity where appearance and reputation are king; the economic disparity; the undercurrent of race resentment, always bubbling near the surface. His minor characters are richly drawn and have an air of tragedy because Pelecanos knows that even drug addicts and gangsters have dreams and goals. In this book, Pelecanos tones down his irritating foible of defining masculinity in his work, though the stupid line “he checked out her backside, because he was a man” (which I found needless in Soul Circus) is here as well, and his nearly defensive preference for voluptuous women results in cartoonishly predictable body shapes for characters, as if this were a Disney cartoon: curvy women, whether wife or whore, have a lust for life and good heart, and slim hips are a near-sure sign that that woman is a humorless prude. I know this is nitpicking; I just continue to find it odd that an author who can bring empathy to killers and corrupt police can’t seem to shake his neurosis about manliness and body shape.

  • Peter Clothier
    2018-12-27 13:06

    I’m cheap. I buy my entertainment books at the local library used book stand, and donate the ones I’ve read. It’s a good system for all, and it does a bit supports the library, I suppose, in hard times. It does mean, though, that I come by my thrillers way past their publication date—truthfully, well past their publication year. I don’t much mind, though. Unless they’re really old, they read pretty much the same. No burning issues. I've loved the genre since browing up with the greats--Leslie Charteris, G.K. Chesteron, Daphne DuMaurier, Ngaio Marsh--and, of course, Agatha and Sir Arthur. You know who I mean...Anyway, there are certainly no burning social or philosophical issues in The Night Gardener, by George Pelecanos, which I just finished last night. It's a change of pace from Than Geoff! Pelecanos writes TV escapist fare--cop shows--and that much is evident here. The action is fast-paced, the street dialogue cryptic and convincing. Not too much gore, but murders aplenty and a hint of the currently topical theme of sex abuse. Characters are engaging, vulnerable, each broken in some way, some sufficiently well explored to be sympathetic.The book is a page-turner. For a reader who, like myself, gets hooked on story and is impatient to know how it unfolds , The Night Gardener is guaranteed to keep you up a bit longer than you’d planned. My quibble: I do get tired of the macho exchange of tough cop talk between, mostly, guys who have a lot invested in their guy-ness—football, booze and sex. Otherwise, if you enjoy this kind of nonsense as I do, I say go for it.

  • Zoeytron
    2019-01-06 07:07

    Ah, The Wire. Yes, I am one of "those" individuals who continue to bemoan the passing of the best television series ever. Finally got around to picking up one of George Pelecanos' novels to see if I could get a taste of the same magic.Tough, gritty dialogue. You may want to avoid if you are at all queasy about gutter-speak as there is rather a lot of it here. I personally feel that it is fitting for the storyline and not at all out of the realm of true. Really good characters, amazingly fleshed out for such a quick read. I cared about these people and that's a big tip of the hat to the author. If you want a synopis of the story, there are some excellent reviews out there. I will not try to dredge it up another way just for the sake of doing it. The story is solid and there are a couple of surprises along the way. The end is sad, but real.

  • brian
    2018-12-30 08:07

    there were parts that were clunky and some of the usual contemporary crime cliches popped up; but the book surprised me more often than not. pelecanos is not content to slip into genre and do what he's supposed to do, but neither does he draw so far outside the lines so as to lose the reader looking for a great and dark crime book... his characterization, dialogue, and tone were top notch -- i fully understand why simon snatched this guy up to write for The Wire.

  • Andrew
    2019-01-08 10:12

    The Elmore Leonard-ish gangster subplot doesn't fit particularly well with the more subtle, haunted primary storyline, but this is still a good trip to Pelecanos' D.C., with interesting characters and the usual accurate local color.

  • Herbivorous
    2018-12-28 09:24

    A fair bit of how Pelecanos writes annoys me. I guess it's meant to be hard-boiled, but I wonder if for once maybe someone could just light a cigarette, rather than having to "put a match to a Camel."What I do like keeps me coming around to read one of his book every so often. For one, his sense of place in DC is very specific and very real -- I see the community garden where they find the corpse at the start of this book from my train window every weekday morning. I can see just where things happened. Secondly, I like the intense relationship with music that many of his characters have. I have a pretty intense relationship to music, so I can relate. And Pelecanos novels definitely read, and are a good choice when I want something that will give me a good ride without having to work too hard for it. I read this right after Infinite Jest, and it was a great change of pace. But if I lived anywhere other than DC, I doubt I'd bother with him much.

  • Thomas Strömquist
    2019-01-02 07:57

    I have a feeling I would have rated this higher had I not read it in sequence with a bunch of other police/detective stories. It's a perfectly good book in it's genre, but as it was I probably could have used a break about then. On the other hand, nothing stood out and made me want to search out further works by the author, so...

  • Larraine
    2019-01-02 12:23

    I hadn't read anything by Pelecanos in several years and had forgotten what a master he is of the inner city police procedural. He is also a producer and writer for The Wire and a new series on HBO about the growth of the porn industry. This novel goes back to the future when Asa, a middle school boy, is found dead in a community garden. Detective Gus Ramone is not assigned the case, but his son was a friend of the boy's although they hadn't spent a lot of time together recently. Gus takes an interest in the case because of the connection with his son. A retired detective who was renowned for his closing ability also takes an interest in the case along with a former cop who is still bitter about being forced to "walk away." He has his own limo service, but he hates himself and his job. The retired detective and disgraced former cop do their own investigation. There is also another ongoing case that threads in and out of the story involving a young wannabe gangster whose uncle is trying to keep from a life of crime. His uncle finds himself involved in a crime and walks away. The young man soon meets a sad, predictable fate. This story has an ending that I didn't expect. Apparently there is another book that recently came out, a young adult fantasy called The Night Gardener. This book would make an incredible film.

  • John McDermott
    2018-12-21 13:13

    Another solid, well written crime thriller from the always consistent George Pelecanos.

  • Fuzzy Gerdes
    2019-01-04 05:17

    George Pelecanos is one of the writers of The Wire and The Night Gardener, while not actually set in the same universe (as we'd say in the scifi world), feels very much The Wire-esque. Of course, Pelecanos has been writing these sorts of books for longer than The Wire has been on the air, so I suppose The Wire is very Pelecanos-esque. Whichever and whatever, I'm really glad to have discovered his writing--it'll be another way to satisfy my Wire fix when the series comes to it's all-too-soon end.The Night Gardener is set in Washington, DC and suburban Maryland (not far from the seedy Baltimore of The Wire) and follows some just-trying-to-do-their-jobs homicide cops as they try to solve several murders. The death of a young man might be connected to some decades-old serial killings, but this is no flashy Bones or CSI and these cops are on no great crusade."How do you solve a murder? Tell me. 'Cause I'd really like to know.""What are you talking about?""Would finding the killer raise those kids back from the dead? Would it bring closure to the families? What would it solve, exactly?" Ramone shook his head bitterly. "I lost the idea a long time ago that I was accomplishing anything. Occasionally I put assholes away for life, knowing they can't kill again. That's how I speak for the fallen few. But as far as solving goes? I don't solve shit. I go to work every day and I try to protect my wife and kids from the bad things that are out there. That's my mission. That's all I can do."We also get to see things from the perspective of criminals and school children (just like on The... alright, I'll stop now).

  • Book Concierge
    2019-01-12 11:24

    Audio book narrated by the author.3.5*** (4**** for the book / 3*** for the audio)Detective Gus Ramone thinks he recognizes a signature in the body of a local teen found shot in a community garden in a middle-class area of Washington DC. Twenty years ago, when he was just a rookie, Ramone and his partner Dan “Doc” Holiday” assisted veteran detective T.C. Cook in the investigation of several murders. The serial killer, dubbed “The Night Gardener” because the bodies were left in gardens, was never found. Now Ramone must wonder whether the murderer is back, or whether this is a copycat. Cook is long since retired, but the case still haunts him. Holiday is no longer on the force, having quit under a cloud of suspicion, and now operates a limousine service. But this boy’s death will bring all three men together in an effort to finish the work begun decades previously. Pelecanos writes a tight, suspenseful mystery/thriller. I was completely drawn into the story and there were enough complexities to the plot to keep me guessing all the way through. The action is fast but he still takes time to carefully draw his characters, slowly revealing one layer at a time and demonstrating that the line between right and wrong, truth and justice, good guys and bad guys is frequently blurred. This is my first Pelecanos, but it won’t be my last! Had I read the text, I would have rated this higher because the quality of the writing merited 4-stars. However, Pelecanos read the audio book himself. His lack of voice-over training means that most characters sound the same and with a fast moving plot it was sometimes hard to distinguish who was speaking. On the other hand, perhaps he was purposely going for that “jaded cop” quality. Audio gets only 3-stars.

  • Delaney Diamond
    2019-01-12 11:22

    This is an interesting tale that captures your attention even though the present-day murder doesn’t take place until about 25% into the story. With that type of setup, you get to know the characters, and they’re a fascinating cast with amusing nicknames. For instance, Antonelli was Butt Plug and Bakalis was Aardvark because of his prominent nose. Between the realistic camaraderie and the background stories, for me it was more than the typical thriller.I liked the family dynamic between Gus and his wife and kids. Gus is married to a black woman, but while every other character was clearly described by their physical features and race upon introduction in the book, she was not, which was odd. However, the author didn’t skirt the issues of race, which I thought was refreshing because people do talk about race in interracial relationships, and people do notice other races. That aspect was very realistic. I would have given the book 5 stars because it kept me entertained, but I couldn’t because of the ending. (view spoiler)[All the other mysteries in the book were solved except the main one, which was disappointing because I have certain expectations when I read a mystery. While the reader finds out who the killer is (possibly), there is no real justice because the reader is left to assume that the killer will be caught, but he’s never actually caught in the story. Considering the heinous nature of the crimes, I wanted justice, but I was left to assume that it will happen instead of actually seeing it happen. (hide spoiler)]Otherwise, I enjoyed the story and tried to find other books with the same characters, but it looks like this was a one-time deal.

  • Mark
    2018-12-21 06:10

    There are two things that make George Pelecanos' work stand out: his wonderful ear for dialogue, whether it's cops or gangsters or teenagers doing the talking; and his ability to weave together several subplots and have them all come together in the end without overly stretching credibility.In this novel, the lead detective is not only trying to solve the murder of a teenager that is eerily similar to a string of unsolved killings more than 20 years before, but the victim was an acquaintance of his son. In the meantime, he has moved his son into a Maryland middle school for a better education, but because his wife is black, their son is treated unfairly at the new school, and he has to struggle with the balance between not letting his son off the hook for discipline problems and not letting the school get away with obvious bias. Throw into the mix a former cop who has become a chauffeur and now thinks he can help a retired detective solve the old Night Gardener murders, a criminal on the make who steals money from a dealer who is backed by a much more powerful ex-con, and the atmospherics of the cop shop and the lives of those in the homicide bureau, and you have a novel that is way beyond the usual police procedural -- which is what you'd expect from a co-writer of The Wire.Recommended.

  • Bettie☯
    2018-12-28 09:58

    mp3 workaday Oooh this more like itRead By: Richard M DavidsonTotal Duration: 11:29:59blurb - Book Description================From Publishers WeeklyStarred Review. Pelecanos (Drama City) delivers a dignified, character-driven epic that succeeds as both literary novel and page-turner. In 1985, the body of a 14-year-old girl turns up in a Washington, D.C., park, the latest in a series of murders by a killer the media dub "The Night Gardener." T.C. Cook, the aging detective on the case, works with a quiet, almost monomaniacal, focus. Also involved are two young uniformed cops, Gus Ramone, who's diligent, conscientious and unimpressed by heroics, and Dan "Doc" Holiday, an adrenaline junkie who's decidedly less straight. Fast forward 20 years. Detective Ramone, now married with kids of his own, investigates the murder of one of his teenage son's friends. The homicide closely resembles the earlier unsolved Night Gardener murders. Holiday, now an alcoholic chauffeur and bodyguard, follows the case on his own and tracks down Cook, long retired but still obsessed with the original murders. While the three work together toward a suspenseful ending, Pelecanos emphasizes the fallacy of "solving" a murder and explores the ripple effects of violent crime on society. (Aug.)