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The Night Gardener Hardcover – 8 Aug 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 377 pages
  • Publisher: Little Brown and Company; 1 edition (8 Aug. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316156507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316156509
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 15.8 x 3.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,143,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Among aficionados of crime fiction, the name of George Pelecanos is revered. And the fact that he is not particularly known to the general public -- who spend their money on far less accomplished authors -- only adds to the lustre of his reputation among those who have discovered him. If you are wondering why this is the case, pick up The Night Gardener, and the chances good that you will see the appeal of this highly accomplished author.

Stephen King has called Pelecanos 'perhaps the greatest living American crime writer', and one of the reasons for this praise may be the total verisimilitude of his writing: this is crime fiction that makes most entries in the fields seem glossy and insubstantial. The plot here involves unsolved crimes and a killer who has never been brought to justice. In 1985, a ruthless individual was kidnapping teenagers, killing them and dumping their mutilated bodies in public parks. 20 years have passed, and detectives Gus Ramone and Dan Holiday -- who worked on the original case -- have taken different career trajectories: Gus has made Detective Sergeant, while Dan has lost his job over a series of irregularities. But then a boy is found murdered in a public park, and both men find themselves seeking closure on a dark case from their pasts. All the things that distinguish Pelecanos' best writing -- flinty characterisation, solid plotting and a marked social concern -- are present here. If you haven't already, it's time to join the legions of Pelecanos admirers. --Barry Forshaw. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

"Unmissable" -- LONDON LITE

"an exciting crime novel that shows the long shadow that violence throws" -- SUNDAY TIMES --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ichabod J VINE VOICE on 21 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
'The Night Gardener' tells the story of a police investigation into the death of a black youth in Washington DC. The apparent murder matches a series of unsolved killings that occurred 20 years previously. Gus Ramone and Dan Holiday, two cops who worked on the earlier cases, come together again to solve the latest crime. But their lives have diverged in the intervening two decades; family man Ramone remains a police officer, whereas the boozy, single Holiday had to leave the force under a cloud.

This straightforward premise is developed well by Pelecanos, who examines family relationships and racial issues in US society today along the way.

Aside from having a decent plot, a deal of reading pleasure can be had from Pelecanos's use of language, especially his dialogue, which is always snappy and authentic and often darkly humourous.

Overall, this is a thoughtful and well-constructed crime novel, that delivers social comment without slowing the narrative. I've read that Pelecanos has contributed to the acclaimed US series 'The Wire' - anyone who likes this or its ilk, eg 'The Shield' would probably find this a worthwhile read. Readers who've already tried Pelecanos only need to know this maintains his usual high standard.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By I. Read-Books on 15 April 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It took me a while to warm to this novel but by the time I'd finished it I was pretty much glowing. It's less of a thriller and more of a literary crime novel. The plot is hardly gripping - no cliff-hanger endings, no mysteries, no conventional action in the form of fights and chases, and no real twists and turns. Instead, what you get is an enchanting portrait of how a real homicide unit interacts - not only with itself but also with its suspects and with its local community. The characters are as real as any I have encountered in the genre - no cliched detectives here; rather uniformed cops with families to feed, bills to pay and vocational callings to fulfill. The dialogue is wonderfully authentic but it was the sheer humanity - the frailty, strength, bitterness and compassion - of the cast that really moved me. Progress on the central murder is slow but this only reflects the reality of the story. I do have some sympathy with the reviewer who complains that the book often reads like a street directory of Washington DC, and I am undecided on the merit of the final page. (Possibly brilliant; possibly a little trite). This isn't a page-tuner but it was an absolute pleasure to read. You'll love the Ramone family by the end of the book and you'll have a great deal of respect for the previously antagonistic 'Doc' Holiday. Don't expect fireworks. Instead, enjoy a masterclass in characterisation and dialogue and savour a biting yet sympathetic snapshot of life on the streets of DC.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By nickyb on 3 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback
I have to give this perfect novel five stars. It is Pelecanos at his best. Superb dialogue enveloping a fine mystery. And he has time for some moralising. I feel Pelecanos is right up there with Elmore Leonard for sheer atmosphere and grittiness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bill on 27 July 2010
Format: Paperback
If you've come to Pelecanos after The Wire, episodes of which he co-wrote and co-produced, then you won't be disappointed. This police procederal thriller could have been transported from the alleys and corners of Washington to those of Baltimore, and its large cast of characters would have been comfortably at home there.

But actually this novel owes much more to the Homicide TV crime series which preceded The Wire. Fans will recognise the multi-layered plot, with several crimes and murders running in parallel; the confontations between perps and po-lice in the interrogation room ('the box'); the detailed back stories of cops, crooks and citizens; and the underlying theme of a city slowly but surely falling apart at the seams.

And, like many an episode of Homicide, (and without giving too much away) the ends aren't always neatly tied up at the conclusion, and not all criminals brought to book. Yet this isn't unsatisfying; you get a strong feeling of lives continuing after the closing pages, with flawed ex-cop Don Holiday pursuing his new-found purpose in life, and Gus Ramone and his family starting over.

And I wouldn't be surprised if we don't meet Ramone and Holiday again. They're just too good, too real, for Pelecanos to let them breathe for just one novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By George Kelly on 19 Feb. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The Night Gardener revolves around a murder of a young black guy called Asa, which is possibly linked to the so-called "Palindrome Murders" of twenty years before. It's also the story of three different "police" (one retired, one by-the-rules, and one who resigned after an Internal Affairs investigation) brought back together by this case.

The main story was pretty strong and kept my attention, making me want to read on to find out the central mystery, although the whodunnit angle is played down a little, taking a backseat to all the issues of race and parenting. At times it almost seemed like George Pelecanos was setting up scenes merely to rant or preach to me about parenting and race in the world today, but usually it integrated well with the scene and didn't come across TOO forced. Plus, George Pelecanos has strong dialogue, as always, even if some of it bugged me in places.

Also there's a pointless subplot to the novel that barely connects to the main storyline and has no real place in the book. It's just another version of two-black-dudes-with-guns-jack-two-other-black-dudes-for-cash-or-money. Pelecanos has gone with this same foundation for a story in the past three or so novels, and they're just not interesting anymore--he's got the dialogue down, but he rarely makes these characters come to life. It just reads like a script of a realistic shakedown: a couple black dudes take some cash or money, then it comes back to bite them on the ass, and somewhere in between there's a girl involved. He's done it before and he's not adding anything new to it. He doesn't give these characters depth, even if he attempts to give them alternate personalities.

And another minor annoyance--so many characters' names start with an R: Ramone, Regina, Rhonda, Richard and Ronald.
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