Holly's Reviews > The Night Gardener

The Night Gardener by George Pelecanos
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's review
Feb 23, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: audio-books

It is readily apparent to the reader that George Pelacanos writes screenplays as this book reads very much like one.

What I liked about this audio book is that Pelacanos portrays Washington, D.C. in a positive light despite the criminal elements. It is easy to negatively stereotype the District and its residents in a novel as other authors have done. Pelicanos takes an evenhanded approach to heroes, villains, and bystanders alike. He features Southeast D.C. as a place where real people live, not just a place the drug dealers and gang members running amok. Also, the narrator does a great job at speaking for different genders, classes, and ages through the specter of characters.

What I didn't like about this novel is that the focus was on interpersonal relationships rather than the mystery itself. (Children being murdered and dumped in community gardens is a compelling crime to solve.) But the author focuses on the characters’ personal relationships and struggles more than the actual case. He also is eager to share his mastery of urban slang and lexicon, which could get tiresome.

An overarching theme of this book is diversity and the hypocrisy of whites who claim to "celebrate diversity." While I agree with Pelacanos on these issues, as a reader I don't need a heavy-handed lecture about diversity. Diversity issues can be addressed in fictional form and other authors have made their case adeptly. Near the end of the tale, Pelacanos has the primary detective and his wife discussing diversity between themselves as if they were ready to draft an editorial on the topic.


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