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The Night Gardener
ISBN 0316156507 / 9780316156509 / 0-316-15650-7
Publisher Little, Brown and Company
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Among aficionados of crime fiction, the name of George Pelecanos is revered. And the fact that he is not particularly known to the general public -- who spend their money on far less accomplished authors -- only adds to the lustre of his reputation among those who have discovered him. If you are wondering why this is the case, pick up The Night Gardener, and the chances good that you will see the appeal of this highly accomplished author.
Stephen King has called Pelecanos 'perhaps the greatest living American crime writer', and one of the reasons for this praise may be the total verisimilitude of his writing: this is crime fiction that makes most entries in the fields seem glossy and insubstantial. The plot here involves unsolved crimes and a killer who has never been brought to justice. In 1985, a ruthless individual was kidnapping teenagers, killing them and dumping their mutilated bodies in public parks. 20 years have passed, and detectives Gus Ramone and Dan Holiday -- who worked on the original case -- have taken different career trajectories: Gus has made Detective Sergeant, while Dan has lost his job over a series of irregularities. But then a boy is found murdered in a public park, and both men find themselves seeking closure on a dark case from their pasts. All the things that distinguish Pelecanos' best writing -- flinty characterisation, solid plotting and a marked social concern -- are present here. If you haven't already, it's time to join the legions of Pelecanos admirers. --Barry Forshaw. [via]