Book: The Night Gardener

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The Night Gardener: A Novel

Author: George P. Pelecanos
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

The haunting story of three cops—one good, one bad, one broken—and the murder that reunites them in a showdown decades in the making. Gus Ramone is good police, a former Internal Affairs investigator now working homicide for the city’s Violent Crime branch. His new case involves a body found in a community garden. 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 series of murders was never solved.

Holiday left the force under a cloud of morals charges, and Cook retired but still agonizes about the Night Gardener killings. The new case draws the three men together, re-igniting the love, regret, and anger that once burned between them as they try to lay to rest the monster who has stalked their dreams.

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. The killer, dubbed, “the Night Gardener,” was never caught. Since then, Holiday has left the force under a cloud of morals charges; he now works as a bodyguard and driver, taunted by his dreams of what he might have been. Cook retired, but he has never stopped agonizing about the unsolved case. Ramone is “good police,” working as a homicide detective for the city’s violent-crime division. He is also a devoted husband and father, and his teenage son, Diego, was a friend of the most recent victim, a boy named Asa.

Could the Night Gardener be on the prowl again? Asa’s death draws the three men together on a mission to finish the work that has haunted them for years. For T.C. Cook, it means solving one of the few cases that eluded him in his distinguished career. For Doc Holiday, the Night Gardener case is one last chance to prove—to Cook, to Ramone, and to himself—what kind of police officer he once was. For Gus Ramone, catching the killer means not only doing his job but knowing that his son will not be the next victim. The regret, anger, and fierce sense of purpose that once burned between them come rushing back as they race to lay to rest the monster who has stalked their dreams.


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We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: George Pelecanos writes great crime fiction. Best known for his character-driven detective novels featuring D.C.-based private investigators Derek Strange and Nick Stefanos, this “Zola of Washington” imbues his gritty stories with a fierce intelligence and an epic sweep that have earned him a solid fan base. In this stand-alone thriller, three cops haunted by a series of unsolved murders reunite 20 years later to investigate a killing that mimics the cold cases. Peppered with the author’s distinctively urban noir touches of violence, crime, and interracial tension, The Night Gardner is a read our booksellers call “riveting.”

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