A Firing Offense
A Nick Stefanos novel
George Pelecanos
Back Bay Books 2011

A Firing Offense is the first of three Nick Stefanos novels George Pelecanos wrote in the early nineties. It is finally back in print with Back Bay Books. A Firing Offense introduces readers to Pelecanos’ Washington D.C. and to Nick Stefanos, a thirty-something guy with a good job who gets drawn into the darker side of things.

A Firing Offense is more a novel than a mystery or thriller though it is about a guy investigating someone’s disappearance. Nick Stefanos is an ad writer for Nutty Nathan, a electronics chains store. The grandfather of a kid who worked in the warehouse gets in touch with him asking him to find his grandson Jimmy. The connection is only that the kid chatted bands with Stefanos.

Stefanos gets his boss to let him go back on the floor of one of the chains stores under the guise of getting closer to the customers. The real reason is to have time to look for Jimmy.

Here George Pelecanos reveals the many tricks electronics salesmen and stores use to get the customers to buy more than they intended. There is even a neat passage about the letter code the sales cards.

Stefanos learns Jimmy was involved with an older woman, a skinhead, and some coke. Not one to give up, he pursues things until they come to a head.

This is a good if sometimes meandering novel. Its many superb passages and its main character make the reader want to get to the end of Firing Offense and it is worth it.