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The Night Gardener

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  4,146 Ratings  ·  409 Reviews
Gus Ramone is good police, a former Internal Affairs investigator now working homicide. His new case involves the death of a local D.C. teenager named Asa. 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 murders, all involving local ...more
Audio CD, 12 pages
Published September 28th 2006 by BBC Audiobooks America, Sound Library (first published 2006)
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(showing 1-30)
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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
Jul 07, 2010 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Larry Bassett
Aug 23, 2010 Larry Bassett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, crime
“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
Jeff
Jul 22, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Melissa
May 29, 2014 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 15, 2008 jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Cathy DuPont
Aug 31, 2014 Cathy DuPont rated it really liked it
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
...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.
Josh
Sep 20, 2011 Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
L
Jul 07, 2008 L rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Brandi
Jul 02, 2008 Brandi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Matt
Mar 21, 2017 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 22, 2009 Tina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ensiform
Jul 02, 2013 Ensiform rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
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
Peter Clothier
Dec 02, 2011 Peter Clothier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
orsodimondo
OMICIDI PALINDROMI
Aveva 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.

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 s
...more
Herbivorous
Jan 23, 2008 Herbivorous rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Zoeytron
May 02, 2013 Zoeytron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Thomas Strömquist
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...
Fuzzy Gerdes
Jan 18, 2008 Fuzzy Gerdes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 e ...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
Delaney Diamond
May 03, 2012 Delaney Diamond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
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 h
...more
Mark
Jul 15, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery

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
Bettie☯
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrew
Jul 12, 2007 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
David
Nobody captures the life of the Washington, DC citizen as George Pelecanos. He doesn't write about thepoliticians, power brokers and party-happy elite of the upper class suburbs, but the ordinary people of the city as they struggle to raise families and go to jobs among a criminal element determined to make their lives difficult.

In The Night Gardener , Pelecanos' theme is ambition, and the way it can set a direction for life, or an early death. It's set against the backdrop of a cold case from
...more
Anne Hartman
Jul 11, 2009 Anne Hartman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
E
This was my first Pelecanos, which I picked up because his are usually set in D.C. I found the characters intriguing and P's focus on the less glamorous parts of the District very interesting - he is clearly in tune with the setting. But the pace was very slow - about the first half of the book moves the investigation along very slowly, if at all, and seems to be more about P's showing off his ability to use "street" language and descriptions than about zeroing in on unraveling either the old cr ...more
Nicole
Feb 17, 2011 Nicole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book, 2011
This may have been a case of really disliking the performer of the audio book, which in turn made me dislike the book as a whole; however, I don't think it would have been my favorite book anyway. This is a fairly gritty crime novel set in DC, where there are parallels between a murder that happens in present day and the crimes of a serial murderer from the 80s that was never caught.
My biggest problem with this book was that the author spent a lot of time going into details on characters that d
...more
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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)” 17 likes
“I'm just a man, no more enlightened than any other.” 6 likes
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