Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Night Gardener by George Pelecanos

If you're looking to read about the Washington, D.C., where the charcoal grey suits walk down K Street with their Bluetooth earpieces in, where the Filipino nannies raise the offspring of the elite, where the black SUVs with the security details stop traffic, where prestigious hospitals drop patients without a research-worthy disease, go read another book. However, if what you want are the stories of real Washingtoniansthe ones whose families go back generations in the city, who saw the riots of the 60s AND the 80s, who have seen their neighborhoods destroyed and then rebuilt by outsiders, who know the scorePelecanos's latest will fill your need like a half-smoke from Ben's Chili Bowl. Once again, he enfolds the history and culture of the capital city into a murder mystery featuring East of the Park D.C. The Night Gardener begins with a crime scene in 1985 Washington and takes you into the present, where a teenager's death brings back memories of those earlier crimes for three cops involved with the earlier cases. New characters are introduced as well. The various threads, which feature dreams destroyed and fulfilled, lives headed toward the precipice and those turned around, are knitted together in the climax, to great effect. Another winner from a guy who knows and lives the environment about which he writes. -- Inanna

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