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The Night Gardener

By George Pelecanos

http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/features/georgepelecanos/

Plot

Ex cop, now chauffer Dan Holliday stumbles across the corpse of a teenage boy in a community garden in Washington, D.C. Detective Sergeant Ramone, though not primary on the case, assists in the investigation. Both quickly realize the killer’s signature is similar to one investigated twenty years ago by a master detective, T.C. Cook. Holliday contact Cook, who still has the unsolved cases on his mind and, with Ramone and his partners, start to unravel the clues. This case may also have a connection to another slaying in the D.C. area. Meanwhile, one cousin looking to make a reputation for himself and another looking to try to stay on the straight and narrow are out shaking down drug dealers and runners for money.

Pelecanos adds his unique style to a classic plot of unsolved serial killings making a return in the future. There are several layers and subplots and the author does a fine job of keeping everything in line.

Characters

T.C. Cook: Black, bald, retired cop, suffered stroke a few years previous, widower, has a daughter, likes to wear a brown Stetson

Giuseppe ‘Gus’ Ramone: White, 42, married with son and daughter, wife is black, medium height and build, college dropout, Detective Sergeant in Washington, D.C., black wavy hair, fit

Dan ‘Doc’ Holliday: White, 41, college dropout, blond, ice blue eyes, thin but with a beer gut, womanizer, smokes and drinks, ex cop now chauffer, has an older more successful brother, sister and parents dead

There are many other characters including Ramone’s partner and a couple of bad guys who like to rob drug dealers of money. Each character is very well defined. yOu don’t have to guess on what these people look like because Pelecanos give basic descriptions and, when important, background information. As with many Pelecanos’ books, no good guy is a superhero and no bad guy is totally evil. There is a lot going on with these people and I find myself interested in each one.

Dialogue

Straightforward. No jacking around with anything unimportant. Most of the time you can tell individual voices although many sound similar.

Writing

A few instances of profanity but the usage is not overdone. Basic details and descriptions. Pelecanos gives us the facts with no holding back or subtlety. He just lays them down in front of you and you take them and run with them. The story is basic, similar to his other books in that the important factors include race, music, food, and alcohol. I did like the added mystery of trying to find a killer.

My ranking:

Blue Belt