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 20 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.
"George Pelecanos takes the urban crime novel as far as it can go....Pelecanos does some astonishing character work." (
The New York Times Book Review) "Pelecanos delivers a dignified, character-driven epic." (
Publishers Weekly) "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." (
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Excellent Pelecanos book withstands being abridged
Yes. It is a great story well read by the author.
I would compare The Night Gardener to Homicide: Life on the Street by David Simon. Both are the product of the author spending a significant amount of time embedded with an actual homicide unit and both have fascinating small details that seem to have come from this valuable experience. They both have an impressive verisimilitude. Particularly in the characterisation of the investigators, who are less crusaders and more workmanlike than television depictions would lead us to believe.
Pelecanos reading highlights the humour of the dialogue, particularly the banter between the detectives.
Pelecanos' ever strong characterisation never fails to draw an emotional reaction from me. The sad truth of the central mystery and the elegiac description of a later death both moved me.
The abridgement of the story seems to have taken something more than just length away - I enjoyed the original book more. Pelecanos is a little quiet as a voice actor so turn it up!
The opening is a flashback so try and listen to the first couple of chapters when you begin the book or it may be a little confusing.
- O. Parker