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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Department of Book Reports 30: The Night Gardener

The Night Gardener, by George Pelecanos (Warner, $7.50) In his 14th novel George Pelecanos gives us a tour of the "Other D.C.", far from K Street. This police procedural introduces its characters slowly, and you're going to get to know them very well by the end of the book. Three cops, one retired and aging, one disgraced and now off the force, join Det. Gus Ramone to find justice for the young man (a friend of his own son's) found shot dead in the community garden. The circumstances echo a serial killer who 20 years ago, left his victims in the neighborhood gardens. Pelecanos builds the richness into his book as he lingers at a local watering hole, letting his characters tell their stories, jokes and conquests. The Ramone family is warmly and fully portrayed, and it is here he examines the harm of words. The Ramone's teen-aged sons have reached that age and school level where "That's so gay!" and "You Fag!" are hurled without thought. I hear a lot of this out of kids around here and this book confirmed my resolve to speak up and confront that whenever I hear it.

This is a perfectly constructed and personal novel that I consider his best yet.

I haven't read all of George's books, but I've loved everyone that I have devoured. The Nick Stefanos novels began in 1992, and later he went on to write the D.C. Quartet, which examine the decades after the middle of the last century, beginning in the fifties. More recently, Derek Strange and Terry Quinn have 4 contemporary tales so far. Although George does tend to break things into four books, the characters often over-lap in other volumes.

If 14 books isn't enough George Pelecanos for you, check out the HBO series, The Wire, where he shares writing duties with Dennis Lehane and Laura Lippman.

And Now the Darwin Award™ Contest Results:

1 vote: So, I got out the ShopVac™

1 vote: Of course, that was throwing myself into another pit of snakes

Trust me, if you knew her
~Bukko in Australia

1 vote: In the immortal last words of all Darwin Award winners; "Hey, y'all! Watch this!"

1 vote: hitch hike speedboat rides on the upper Potomac River
~anne johnson

Good thing I had flip-flops on at the time

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!
2 votes: Didn't just slip off of the rope, oh, no. Didn't just fall on me bum.
~Anntichrist S. Coulter

really nice double-barrelled shotgun, which has the barrels exploded

1 vote: Rolling Rock and sleds do not go well together

1 vote: So we decided to put a silver salute into the neck of one of those old 7 oz Coke™ bottles

I came across a 6" diameter lodgepole whose roots were completely burned out

And a late entry from: And lucky to be alive.

Thank you all for being brave enough, or desperate enough to tell everyone your extreme acts of stupidity. I knew you could! There are even more confessions back at the original column.

We have a clear winner in Anntichrist S. Coulter, everyone's a sap for someone who selflessly throws themselves into the Kitteh spay/neuter battles! And, although it's really a tough call, SeattleDan and I throw our votes at raindogzilla for embodying the spirit of the Darwin Awards™ so succinctly. MattYoung, you get honorable mention for doing exactly what I woulda done. Please contact Jackson Street Books for your Prize package! The rest of you knuckleheads who participated should contact us for your consolation prizes.

This Week's Contest!
I have five copies of 101 Things You Need to Know... and Some you Don't! for the first five people to go tell me a joke over at Jackson Street Books' spiffy new blogspot. Bonus points if it's of a literary nature. Keep it fairly clean please, we are a neighborhood bookstore!

We haven't caught sight of democommie™™™™®© since he mis-heard the assignment as "101 things you really DON'T want to know".
Just. Don't. Ask. Him.

Remember, there's always a Fine Independent Bookstore near you.

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We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.