Everything that occurs in “The Night Gardener” by George Pelecanos has a consequence and affects the perspective of the novel’s multitude of characters.
Washington D.C. is a major character…not the city seen by tourists, politicos and lobbyists…rather the city where the murder of a drug dealer is known as a “society cleanse.” Mr. Pelecanos transports the reader to this authentic and shocking kingdom of street crime.
At the core of the story are three D.C. cops and the cases that trigger their lives to intersect.
In 1985, T.C. Cook was a legend in the homicide division, while Gus Ramone and Dan “Doc” Holiday were rookie beat cops.
Cook was lead detective on a serial murder case involving three teens who were murdered in various city community gardens. The cases were never closed…the killings stopped.
In 2005, Cook has retired and had a stroke…Doc Holiday has a limo service (he left the force just before an internal affairs investigation)…Gus Ramone is a solid family man and homicide Detective Sgt.
The three are reunited while trying to solve a present day killing with possible links to the three unsolved from 1985 that continue to haunt them.
The three have separate motives. Solving the case would mean redemption for the alcoholic Holiday. For Cook, apprehending the killer will end his obsession so he can rest in peace. For Ramone, it is all part of the job…and it is personal, as his fourteen-year-old son knew the 2005 victim.
This is a panoramic novel, with a sizeable cast amid a tangle of subplots. The reader immediately becomes caught up in the sequence of events and Mr. Pelecanos challenges you to pay attention. And, the rewards are great.
More a novel about crime than a crime novel per se, you will become more interested in learning how the case will alter the lives of the trio of cops than how they will solve the crime.
“The Night Gardener” is a compelling and powerful novel whose characters come alive via revealing details. The absorbing plot of parallel stories of working cops and career criminals will lead you in unexpected directions.
To detail any more of the story line would deprive readers of the shock of discovery.
At the conclusion, you may feel the need for a standing ovation.