As Little, Brown unfolds its marketing campaign for “THE NIGHT GARDENER” I’m sitting on the side lines reading reviews, reading profiles and crossing my fingers ….. big time.
It is no secret I am huge fan of this Washingtonian’s work. When my husband Jon put together a book of author interviews called INTERROGATIONS I was honored he allowed me to do the introductory essay on Pelecanos’s work. And it was perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever written. There’s so much to say about the layers of any Pelecanos read. If I was going to write about him in a print format it had to be perfect. Naturally it wasn’t but I spent over a week obsessing on 800 words.
And now Little, Brown is doing much what I did 4 years ago, giving it everything they’ve got because Pelecanos needs to be presented to the entire reading community. They are backing the work of a one of this generation’s most gifted writers with their entire arsenal. Little, Brown believes in the books. Their assumption is that if the numbers (sales) aren’t what Pelecanos deserves the fault lies within the house, the marketing. Not the writer or the writing. And so the push. It makes my cynicism about the publishing world abate. How much does Little, Brown believe? My first e-mail from the publicity department about the work came before the book had a title. Every e-mail I sent was returned within twenty four hours. The A.R.C. came the first week in March. Enough time for me to read it twice before deadline. Keep in mind Crimespree is not Entertainment Weekly. L,B. is excited. Rightfully so.
If I call Pelecanos a “cult” read within the mystery community would anyone disagree? After all, even in our community we should be able to do better for him. 20,000 hard covers (a high estimate)? But we are a diverse community and I have friends who’ve confessed to me, “His work’s a little too real Ruth” or “I only read British” “The dialect, I can’t get past the dialect.” We all have preferences and peccadilloes.
So here is my rally call. In an insular community where we look at publishing with bewilderment, let’s reward Little, Brown for their efforts. Let’s all buy a copy of THE NIGHT GARDENER. Each and every one of us. It’s a good investment.
THE NIGHT GARDENER is an excellent book. With the Pelecanos style that has made him a cult figure and a story that crosses over to contemporary fiction with an élan that only a truly gifted scribe could manage. If you haven’t read G.P. lately , this is the one to pick up. New characters allow those of us who are truly anal to shut our eyes to the overwhelming backlist of what came before. This book revolves around three entirely different personalities. The two cases, one old and one new take a distinct look at two time periods with an eerie insight. Pelecanos’s Washington is again a central character but in THE NIGHT GARDENER he also moves into the suburbs with the same truth that has made his Washington THE Washington in Crime Fiction. In THE NIGHT GARDENER the human condition with all of its strengths and fallibilities is again primal. And hope, hope is in the family. A family with all the day to day concerns and conflict of our own.
Are you still unconvinced? I have a secondary argument. Everyone who reads has friends who read. And not necessarily within the “mystery genre”. Give them this book. Wrap it up with a bow and say, “You’re welcome,”. THE NIGHT GARDENER (roll eyes with me everyone) transcends the genre. Truly. If you’ve a friend who reads “literary novels” by all means, gift them. “Best-sellers”, ditto. This novel will be enjoyed by all.
Are you a library reader or perhaps someone whose collection has outgrown their book space? Buy it anyway , read it and then pass it along. This is his time. This is the book with which the mystery community can share George Pelecanos with the rest of the reading population. Little, Brown has a tradition of taking the very best of Crime Fiction and nurturing their writers. Connelly, Rankin, Mina, Meyers, Mosley. And George Pelecanos. Now it’s time for us to return the favor. We can all go to our local bookstores, spend the 20 odd dollars and say thank you to Little, Brown for continuing to back quality product in a market that becomes more by the numbers every day. And it doesn’t hurt that when Pelecanos becomes a household name we can know we found him first.