The Night Gardener
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The Night Gardener

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  3,177 ratings  ·  344 reviews
"When the body of a local teenager is found in a community garden, homicide detective Gus Ramone relives intense memories of a case he worked twenty years earlier. When he was still a rookie, Ramone and his partner Dan "Doc" Holiday assisted legendary detective T.C. Cook as he investigated a series of killings involving young victims left overnight in neighborhood parks. T...more
Hardcover, 372 pages
Published August 8th 2006 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2006)
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Dan Schwent
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...more
Greg
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...more
Melissa
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 i...more
jo
Jul 06, 2014 jo rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of the The Wire and richard price
Recommended to jo by: linda
Shelves: mystery-thriller
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 lingerin...more
Jeff
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...more
Josh
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 b...more
Ensiform
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, inspire...more
L
Jul 15, 2008 L rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: gio, laura
Shelves: mystery
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,...more
rachel
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.
brian
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.
Peter Clothier
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 Ch...more
Larry Bassett
“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...more
Tina
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...more
Zoeytron
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...more
Brandi
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 m...more
Book Concierge
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...more
Andrew
Aug 21, 2007 Andrew rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who read police procedurals, watch "The Wire", and/or live in D.C.
When I want a good mystery, I usually turn to time-tested, well-respected authors like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. The Night Gardener was published last year, but I have a feeling that it will prove to be a classic and its author, George Pelecanos, held up as an equal in the craft to writers like Hammett and Chandler. The premise of this police procedural is that two decades ago, there was a series of murders of children in community gardens in DC. Twenty years later, there is another...more
Fuzzy Gerdes
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 en...more
Mark

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...more
Herbivorous
Jan 23, 2008 Herbivorous rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who live in DC; people who go to rock clubs in DC
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 ha...more
Anne Hartman
Starts out in 1985 with 3 police officers working the 'Palindrome Killer' case.
Cut to 2005 - case still open and another kid gets killed - Asa, who happens to be one of the detective's son's friends. This case ends up getting the 3 officers back together...one of which is retired, one had begrudgingly left the force, and the other still works, but it is not his life. We do get to see what his life is like in W. DC...wife, 2 kids, everyday troubles, etc.
I really liked that the book focused a lo...more
Andrew Watson
George Pelecanos is a writer I turn to at least once a year, when I know I want to be entertained and taken back to Washington DC. This novel took a little longer than some of his others to get going, but once it did I was back in a familiar world and worrying that something bad wasn't going to happen to good people and hoping one or two others would get their comeuppance. Not so much music or food as some of his other work and perhaps not the kind of cuddly book to be reading at Christmas, but...more
David
A entertaining hard-boiled detective novel, with cussin', sex and violence. Not for those who want their homocide genteel.

I read a review, written when the TV series “The Wire” (partially written and produced by Pelacanos) was on the air, that called the book something to tide fans of “The Wire” over until the next season premiered. Now that “The Wire” is receding into television history, this book is even move useful as a tool to stave off the sadness that comes from knowing that one of the bes...more
Oak Lawn Public Library - Youth Services
Title: The Night Gardener
Author: Jonathan Auxier
Lexile Level: 690
Pages: 350 pgs
Summary: A dark and spooky middle grade fiction story that centers on two abandoned Irish children who journey through the “Sourwoods” to work as servants at the mansion of the Winsdor family. The mansion is in ill-repair, the Winsdor family appears to be suffering from a mysterious sickness and there is an enormous, ancient tree whose roots are breaking through the inner walls and ceilings of the house. Molly and Ki...more
Beth Sambur
I have never read any books by George Pelecanos, I have never watched The Wire, and I'm not a big fan of Crime fiction. Although, I did enjoy this book. The writing is fresh and exciting. There was alot of action and drama, but there was also a great deal of character development. The topic of race has been used before, but it is always poignant. Overall, it was definitely worth the read.
Debra
Mar 13, 2011 Debra marked it as to-read
Stephen King recommended author and book. He says: "Pelecanos, best known for his work on HBO's The Wire, is perhaps the greatest living American crime writer. He proves it again in this story of how 20 years changes three cops when an old serial killer of teens seems to become active again. The ending is guaranteed to tear your heart out."
Pamela
Pelecanos has never disappointed me. I love his fiction--the mystery is that he's not as well known as other novelists of social fiction such as Richard Price. Pelecanos is equally as good, and if you like books such as Clockers I can recommend Pelecanos for you.

I've not seen The Wire, so apparently I'm in for a treat.
Jennifer
Much more than just a police procedural. Pelecanos writes with style and empathy, creating real characters, interesting plot lines and moral dilemmas, and it is always fun to read about the side of D.C. we don't experience. I really enjoyed this. It has been a summer of great reads so far!
Alison
George Pelicanos is one of the writers from The Wire- after the show ended I need my fix. The character development isn't the greatest but the plot moves fast. All of his novels are set in DC and he knows the city like the back of his hand.
Stacey
George Pelecanos is great! This book was fascinating and fun (in a very dark way). I especially love that Pelecanos writes about real locations, so I was able to drive down the very same streets and see key scenes through the characters eyes.
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George P. Pelecanos (born 1957 in Washington, D.C.) is an American author of detective fiction set primarily in the capital of the United States, Washington, D.C. He is also a film and television producer and a television writer. He has worked extensively on the HBO series The Wire. His novels use an ensemble cast of characters, following their exploits across several generations. While there are...more
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“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. (final lines)” 10 likes
“I'm just a man, no more enlightened than any other.” 4 likes
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