Friday, January 11, 2008

Listened to: "The Night Gardener" by George Pelecanos

Listened to: The Night Gardener by George Pelecanos, 2006, an Overdrive download.

Another damned abridgement. I should have paid closer attention during my last selection of titles.

This was a really well done story that survived the abridgement and the less than stellar narration by the author. I would bet that an experienced and skilled narrator would really make this chopped version shine.

Gus Ramone is a detective for the Washington D.C. police. Asa, a friend of Ramone’s 14 year old son, is found dead from a gunshot wound in one of D.C.’s community vegetable gardens. Ramone and a couple retired officers suspect that the victim was killed by the Palindrome Killer. The Palindrome Killer murdered three black teens (whose names were palindromes) in 1985 and left the raped bodies in community gardens. Ramone works Asa’s case and another murder while a secondary storyline follows an older ex-con trying to look out for his foolhardy nephew.

I think the abridgement took a lot out of the story. Character interactions were not fleshed out, characters come and go or are only spoken of, red herrings are not followed up, and the novel’s ending was lousy. The finale of the secondary storyline has a very minor character from the primary storyline suddenly appearing in the key role that merges the two stories. A flashback to 1985 has the Palindrome Killer hanging out at one of his crime scenes but he never made an appearance in the present day setting and was only used as a tool to have the two ex-cops meet and work together.

Pelecanos does such a good job with his characters, plotting, and the issues of race, gays, parents, teens, good cops and bad cops that the novel easily survives the abridgement.

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