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A Firing Offense

(Nick Stefanos #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,882 ratings  ·  141 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.
Paperback, 216 pages
Published 1999 by Serpent's Tail/Five Star (first published 1992)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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Jun 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

"A rock gets pushed at the top of the hill, and it begins to roll, and then it doesn't matter who did the pushing. What matters is that nothing can stop it. What matters is the damage done. So how it started, I suppose, is insignificant. Because what sticks now is how it ended: with the sudden blast and smoke of automatic weapons, and the low manic moan of those who were about to die." -- the musings of Nick Stefanos, a private investigator looking back on his very first case, on page 4
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 21, 2013 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
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
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
May 09, 2014 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 08, 2013 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
Ralph Blackburn
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Early Pelecanos but worth a read. Some outer banks North Carolina stuff that brought back memories to me. Pretty much standard 1st-person detective yarn.
Oct 15, 2011 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
Oct 18, 2013 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 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I made the mistake of starting in the middle of Pelecanos' canon instead of the beginning. The sense of desperation so familiar to most crime novels is what I found lacking in Drama City and while I enjoyed King Suckerman, I recall it mostly for the sum of its parts than the book as a whole. What It Was entertained with an interesting lead but too often, I felt like I was reading about an episode of The Wire while missing out on the whole show.

That's not the case with this one. Yes, it is a firs
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Pelecanos is a stellar writer. This is a time capsule of a book describing a retail/advertising world that existed right before the Internet.
May 23, 2016 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
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, four-stars, read-2017
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jim A
Oct 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: new-authors
A fun read about a search for a missing young man as a favor to that man's grandfather.

A fun part of the early portion of the story centers around the antics that go on amongst commissioned sales people in a appliance/electronics mega store. I had to keep reminding myself that this story was written 30 years ago. "Politically correct" was not on anybody's radar back then.
Apr 07, 2020 added it
I really dug the way this was a mish mash of crime-mystery and a character piece about a lot of damaged people and their wild days. It ends on a perfectly melancholy note that makes me very interested to see where the next book in the series goes. Also very excited for his more renowned Quartet of period novels.
Oct 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Smokin, Drinkin, Drugs & Drivin

That is a lot of the book. The gritty real streets, run down businesses, a deck of Camel`s & Newports & the drinking! These fellows can drink - a 6, plus shots & still drive & work! The story is good & there is a stark realness to everything & everyone. His books will be a lot shorter when you are not allowed to smoke or drink & drive anymore. I had to retire my Dodges (they constantly breakdown) & give up the beer(mostly) & of course, my Redskins are no more. Toyo
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A damn fine detective novel.
Larry Bassett
Jan 19, 2011 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
Richard Knight
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's crazy to think Pelecanos was this good so early on for his first book, but he was. Sure, there are traces of a beginning writer just finding his footing, especially early on. But if I hadn't read that this was his very first novel, I would have believed it came at any time in his career. A great first effort into what would become a monumental career.
May 17, 2014 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
M. Sprouse
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
This is my first George Pelecanos book. It was not what I expected, it was way better. Nick Stefanos, our main character and hero, is my age and a lot of the pop culture references, especially the music rang true with me, or at least 1989 me. Actually, Nick was a bit ahead of me on the music curve. Anyway, I was expecting something a little more "zany" when I read the summary. Maybe kinda of like Brian Wiprud's Garth Carson Novels. I was thinking 3 stars for about the first 50 pages, then 4 star ...more
Apr 07, 2011 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
Ty Wilson
May 01, 2014 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
Evan Wade
Jun 11, 2016 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
Rob Kitchin
Aug 06, 2012 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
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mini Review

Surprisingly self-assured debut from Pelecanos that defies his inexperience as a writer, however his writing follows a template I never cared much for. He tries to add authenticity to the setting by leaning on a detail-laden descriptive style. The book suffers for it, most of it is somewhere between mundane and redundant and will only appeal to a niche group of readers such as Washington natives or people with questionable music taste. The actual crime/mystery covers at most one third
Feb 23, 2013 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
Nancy Sebert
Aug 23, 2015 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 ...more
Left Coast Justin
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 Pelecanos was born in Washington, D.C., in 1957. He worked as a line cook, dishwasher, bartender, and woman's shoe salesman before publishing his first novel in 1992.

Pelecanos is the author of eighteen novels set in and around Washington, D.C.: A Firing Offense, Nick's Trip, Shoedog, Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go, The Big Blowdown, King Suckerman, The Sweet Forever, Shame the Devi

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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