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A Firing Offense (Nick Stefanos #1)

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,297 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
As advertising director of Nutty Nathan's, Nick Stefanos knows all the tricks of the electronics business. Blow-out sales and shady deals are his life. When a stockroom boy hooked on speed metal and the fast life disappears, Nick has to help find him.
Trade Paperback, 216 pages
Published 1999 by Serpent's Tail/Five Star (first published 1992)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,003)
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Dan Schwent
When an old man that knew his grandfather asks Nick Stefanos to find his missing grandson, Nick agrees out of a feeling of kinship for the boy. But what does an ad man in an electronics store know about detective work?

Here we are, George Pelecanos first novel. The more Pelecanos I read, the higher he is elevated in my esteem. A Firing Offense is no exception.

A Firing Offense starts off with a standard hard boiled plot: someone is missing. In this case, it's Jimmy Broda, a young man that reminds
Mar 24, 2013 Kemper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah, the ‘90s. When people still went into stores and bought stuff like chumps instead of just clicking a mouse to spend all our money. But back then when I hit up an electronics store for a new VCR or Discman, I don’t remember being able to hire a private detective at the same time.

Nick Stefanos worked his way up through the sales ranks of Nutty Nathan’s to an office position doing their advertising, but the job is feeling hollow and he’s got a nagging young boss on his ass. So when he gets a ca
May 21, 2014 Algernon rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014

I’ve been meaning to read George Pelecanos for quite a long time. His books receive a lot of glowing reviews in the press and here on Goodreads. I got a a little push this month from the pulp group and here I am ...
There is something appealing for me in starting a new author from his debut and following his development over the years, but the first Nick Stefanos novel was a bit of a disappointment, mostly due to the high expectations mentioned above. I imagine Pelecanos later books are more acco
James Thane
This early book from George Pelecanos introduces Nick Stefanos. Nick has worked his way up from the sales floor to become advertising director for an electronics retailer named Nutty Nathan's. But he's drifting, drinking too much and still hasn't found his real niche in life. When a stock boy at the Nutty Nathan's warehouse named Jimmy Broda goes missing, the boy's grandfather asks Nick to try to find him. (Broda has apparently spoken favorably of Nick to his grandfather, hence the request.)

Oct 17, 2013 Tfitoby rated it liked it
Shelves: black-as-night
I've been waiting for this for quite some time now, the first Nick Stefanos mystery and the first crime novel by George Pelecanos, it was worth the wait and I feel the urge to read everything else from one of the men behind The Wire now and hopefully I do mean immediately.

Nick Stefanos isn't a detective, he isn't a PI, he isn't a bounty hunter, gumshoe, cop, MD, CSI, mystery author, interested party, relative or accidentally involved in a crime, Nick Stefanos is in the marketing department of an
Pelecanos’ first novel, published in 1992 when he was 35, the first of the three “Nick Stefanos” novels (the others being Nick’s Trip (1993) and Down By the River Where the Dead Men Go (1995).

I can’t really compare this book to the others that I’ve read very well, since I don’t have access to any of those books, being on vacation. However, it does seem to be a “first novel” based on no more than my remembrances of the polish of those other books.

One thing that surprised me was the first person n
Jul 31, 2014 Josh rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, crime, read_2014
Probably my least favourite Pelecanos book - the homage to James Crumley is apparent as being an influence in the early iteration of Pelecanos' own style but I just thought the execution missed the mark - though I can’t quite pinpoint the exact reason for this. Perhaps the inconsequential over-descriptive nature of the place setting or the volume of music references (which, in his later novels works well) is the cause. Then again, perhaps it was lead character Nick and the jump from being a sale ...more
Nov 09, 2011 Nikki rated it it was ok
I've read a few of George Pelecanos's more recent novels and liked them very much, so I decided to go back to the beginning. This was his first book, published in 1992, and while one can see the seeds of greatness in it, one can also see how much he has learned in the intervening years. The protagonist, Nick Stefanos, is Greek-American like so many of Pelecanos's main characters. He works in a discount electronics chain (as Pelecanos himself did, according to the dust jacket). He's thirty years ...more
Jun 03, 2016 Julie rated it liked it
I like these early books by Pelecanos. They are a little raw, but you see the fantastic writer that is in there, just waiting to emerge.

Like most of his stories, this one is gritty and fun at the same time. If you ever worked retail, especially electronics retail, you will see many people you worked with and for in this one. The (male) characters are so well drawn that the reader walks away wondering how the people from the book are doing. (No problem; there are two more Nick Stefanos Books!) A
Tim Niland
May 21, 2014 Tim Niland rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-reads
Nick Stephanos is in a middle management position at a large chain of electronics stores. He's getting by OK, with an apartment in DC and a cranky one-eyed cat. A young man that had previously worked in the electronics' store warehouse, had bonded with Nick over a shared love of punk rock. When he goes missing, his grandfather begs Nick to find out what happened to him. Nick has no training in investigation, but is a stubborn character. Moving into one of the local stores in the District, allows ...more
Ty Wilson
May 07, 2014 Ty Wilson rated it really liked it
This is the first Nick Stefanos novel, a detective that isn't really a detective to begin with. But once Nick is hired to track down a young man who has gone missing, he's on the case until the end. Nick is a classic hard-boiled detective. He drinks too much, he sleeps with whatever woman is nearby and occasionally he gets punched in the face. Nick starts out as the advertising director for Nutty Nathan's, a Washington D.C. electronic store. Nick has worked his way up from the sales floor to the ...more
Jun 08, 2014 Franky rated it it was ok
A Firing Offense, the first in the Nick Stefanos mysteries, has its moments of wit, quirkiness, and intrigue, but unfortunately these moments are few and far between.

The debut into this series is clearly the transition from Nick being salesman at Nutty Nathan’s to full blown investigator. In A Firing Offense, Nick gets a request to find Jimmy, a stock boy at Nutty Nathan’s who has recently disappeared. Jimmy’s grandfather is concerned and believes that Nick is the right guy for the job. While r
Nancy Sebert
Aug 23, 2015 Nancy Sebert rated it it was ok
Another beach read - I don't usually do this but it seemed to sum up my thoughts too - "Nick's as robust as his mystery is anemic. This debut is promising--but better wait for Pelecanos to throw better stuff. -- Copyright 1992, Kirkus Associates, LP." (from Amazon) The focus was largely on Nick Stefano's debauchery with his friends, while trying to find a missing 19 year old, but I heard more about his vices than his mystery-solving ability and the situation went from bad to worse with a shoot o ...more
Larry Bassett
Jan 19, 2011 Larry Bassett rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, crime
Although I am reading A Firing Offense from the collection Three Great Novels: Down By The River A Firing Offense Nick's Trip, I am including this review under the individual book since that is by far the most common way readers experience this book.

A Firing Offense A Five Star Title was originally published in 1992, Pelecanos’ first book. It is gathered here by Orion Books Ltd. of London in 2002 as the first book in the Nick Stefanos trilogy. It seems that my collected works is even an autograp
Jul 20, 2012 David rated it really liked it
I have to agree with a lot of the reviews that I have read for this book. As a detective novel, it is an undisciplined, cliched mess. To begin with, it takes about 70 pages (out of 216) for the detective story to get going. When the "clues" scattered throughout the story are put together, the ending is very clumsy. The Bogart-like talk between Nick and one of the perpetrators at the end sounds very hackneyed. There are some annoying repetitions, like calling a two seat table a "deuce". That migh ...more
Rob Kitchin
Aug 06, 2012 Rob Kitchin rated it really liked it
The power of Pelecanos’ writing is that he immerses the reader in the protagonist’s world and he has a fine observational eye for how social relations play out. The characterisation, dialogue and scene writing is first class. In particular, Pelecanos perfectly captures the people and banter of the sales floor, the tricks used to tumble customers into sales, the micropolitics of workplaces in general, and the ambivalent and conflicted nature of family relations. The plotting of A Firing Offense, ...more
Feb 24, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries, tbr-list
Hard-boiled, violent mysteries aren't my thing, but A Firing Offense succeeds as a novel as well as a mystery due to the excellent writing and characterizations. The local setting in Washington, D.C. was an added plus.

He was a short, barrel-chested guy in his fifties with a wide, flat nose that appeared to have been smashed in by a shovel. As he walked towards me, I noticed that his gut had swelled, his neck had all but disappeared, and there was much more gray salted into his hair. He looked s
John The
Jan 29, 2016 John The rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had read some of George Pelecanos later books, namely the Derek Strange/Terry Quinn series and really enjoyed them so I was exciting when I picked up all 3 of the author's novels for his first character, Nick Stefanos. This being the first book in that series seemed to be the logical place to start.
All three books are short, between 200 & 300 pages long. However this felt like War & Peace. I hated everything about it, the writing, the main character, the lack of a real story, the glori
Evan Wade
Jun 13, 2016 Evan Wade rated it liked it
I give this book three stars because of the action, which only really starts (view spoiler). There's some stuff sprinkled here and there before that, but even that comes surrounded in thick padding: For every exciting development - or even just minor plot point - there are like 20 pages wherein the protagonist, who is a Marty Stu if I've ever seen one, drinks beer, namedrops bands, and finds new ways to subtly mention how cool/smart/with-it/caring ...more
David Sayre
Apr 06, 2016 David Sayre rated it really liked it
In George Pelecanos' first novel "A Firing Offense", he introduces one of his best characters, Nick Stefanos. While working as the advertising director and salesman at an electronics store, Nick is asked by one of the stock boy's grandfather to help him find the missing young man. Nick's former work as a process server gives him the know-how to poke around. Where it leads him is into a dark world of criminal activity.

By the time the story concludes, Nick may be on his way to becoming a private d
Phillip Thurlby
Oct 08, 2013 Phillip Thurlby rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Someone who's run out of detective thrillers
Shelves: pulp, own-a-copy
This was an adequate thriller, but not a lot more. The story is not too predictable but is unfortunately let down by a lack of likable characters in my opinion. I felt myself uncaring as to whether the protagonist would solve the case/his issues and the people he surrounded himself with and allied to were even worse.

It was fine to try but I won't be rushing to pick up another Pelecanos....
May 08, 2014 Cyndi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an above average story of neo-noir detective's first outing as such. Ended much better than it began. Dark elements, DC and some snatched cocaine. Really more like 3.5 stars from this reader.
Sep 09, 2015 Byron rated it liked it
The very first George Pelecanos novel, and the first in his Nick Stefanos series.

I'd already read a few books in his Derek Strange and Spero Lucas, and I wanted to go back and take a look at some of the ones I missed. I figured, what better place to start than the beginning.

Pelecanos was already pretty good from jump, but there was a lot of room for improvement. In fact, he'd already improved quite a bit by the time he dropped his second book, which I've already read and will eventually get arou
Lukasz Pruski
Dec 22, 2013 Lukasz Pruski rated it it was ok
"A Firing Offense" is the first novel by George P. Pelecanos, one that started the Nick Stefanos trilogy. The author has not yet developed the "D.C. noir" style so characteristic for his later novels, and his pen is not yet as assured as in "Right as Rain" or "The Night Gardener".

It is the early 1990s in Washington D.C. Nick Stefanos is an advertising director in a consumer electronics and appliances store chain. A young man who worked in the company's warehouse has disappeared and his grandfat
Jul 22, 2011 Katherine rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
"Now the street was irreparably lifeless, a sodden butt drowning in the rot of a shot glass" (1).
“When Malone opened the door of his basement apartment and saw the four of us on his steps, beers in hand with swollen faces and ripped clothing, like some group of mentally ill Christmas carolers, a look of exasperation clouded his face” (56).
“This truly misanthropic breed of salesmenbaiters, who spend entire sunny weekends on retail floors with their magazines and pads, imagining themselves as crus
Sep 21, 2013 William rated it liked it
It has taken me forever to track down this first book in the Nick Stefanos series. It's a good enough read to want to try further episodes, but suffers from being a pretty adolescent maiden effort. The most redeeming feature is occasional laugh-out-loud humor, but otherwise the book is more or less a pastiche of other styles -- hard-boiled, Jay McInerny youthful urban angst, and a bit of the "on the road" style. It's also a bit of a cultural artifact with extensive references to popular music fr ...more
Jul 26, 2012 Padraic rated it really liked it
Nick Stefanos starts the book as a smart aleck advertising manager in an electrical retail chain. A kid who works in the warehouse goes missing, after being fired or abandoning his job. Nick gets a call from the kids grandfather who mentions a mix tape that Stefanos had put together and thus begins an unconventional noir.

The story has a number of familiar elements. Narration is in the first person throughout, Nick is hard bitten, drinks too much, has a sense of responsibility that won't let him
Gabriel Boutros
Aug 07, 2013 Gabriel Boutros rated it really liked it
In A firing Offense, Nick Stefanos appears for the first time. Although this character grows into a full-time private eye over three books of his own, eventually even making a guest appearance in Soul Circus (a Derek Strange book), when he first shows up Stefanos is working for an electronics retailer. In fact, much of the book is spent on scenes in the electronics store, where Stefanos and other salesmen do their best to pressure clients into buying products they don't want, for more than they ...more
Stephen Parker
The operant word here is potential. A Firing Offense succeeds as a small crime novel with a satisfying conclusion, but what I was left with at the end was one of hope for better in the future. Pelecanos's DC is well-drawn and expansive, and Nick Stefanos is a character who could be well-served by more pages. Obviously Pelecanos felt the same, given that Stefanos's story continues in several of his books. As an intro to this world, A Firing Offense is an interesting primer.

As a stand-alone story,
Justin Gaynor
Aug 09, 2015 Justin Gaynor rated it it was ok
Seriously? We're supposed to be rooting for these world-class schmucks? Was Pelecanos trying to blow the lid off the creepy salesguys who work at Best Buy by proving they treat their customers like dirt, their coworkers like dirt and their girlfriends like dirt? Is there anybody that didn't already know this?

Because this was his first book and he seemed to understand the basics of storytelling, this book gets two stars instead of one.
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George P. Pelecanos (born 1957 in Washington, D.C.) is an American author of detective fiction set primarily in the capital of the United States, Washington, D.C. He is also a film and television producer and a television writer. He has worked extensively on the HBO series The Wire. His novels use an ensemble cast of characters, following their exploits across several generations. While there are ...more
More about George Pelecanos...

Other Books in the Series

Nick Stefanos (3 books)
  • Nick's Trip
  • Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go

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