What is Charley Crompton hiding? The police in a small town aren´t sure, but when he is reported digging in his garden in the middle of the night soon after his wife disappears, it seems like something is up. This is the intriguing premise for Robert L. Fish´s enigmatic, Edgar-award-winning short story Moonlight Gardener.
When we meet him, Charley seems both crazy and evasive. Why does he answer the door holding a bloodstained hatchet? And do we believe him when he claims that he was only digging up his peach trees "to let the roots breathe"? The police investigation is both an inquiry into Mrs. Crompton´s disappearance and a look behind closed doors into the private life of the main suspect and his missing wife. Is Charley acting so strange because he is guilty, or did the severe and judgmental Mrs. Crompton decide she finally had enough of her strange husband? Or is something even stranger going on?
Police investigations routinely work by paying close attention to the norms of life, and finding cause for suspicion when those norms are violated. But what happens when a criminal inquiry meets genuine eccentricity? Do the police have sufficient imaginative resources to untangle the mystery of the moonlight gardener?