Following the disappearance of Jimmy Brouda, a stock boy from electronics store Nutty Nathan’s, advertising director Nick Stefanos is approached by the boy’s grandfather with a request to help locate him. Having been somewhat close to Jimmy when they both worked the floor as well as seeing a lot of himself in the lad, Nick agrees to ask around and hopefully track down Jimmy.
George Pelecanos’ first novel feels like the work of a guy who has been doing this for years. A Firing Offense is about as hard-boiled as it gets. As an amateur detective who has never done this sort of work before, Nick finds himself pretty adept at working an investigation. Along the way, he’ll feel right at home with the Marlowes of the world as he pollutes his body with a seemingly endless stream of booze while also taking a hell of a beating from the opposition. Are you even a private detective if you don’t engage in a routine amount of self-destruction?
Maybe it’s the fact that I had read over one hundred books in 2020, and the fact that I’m looking to do the same again this year, but I really appreciate it when an author can tell a strong story in under three hundred pages. There’s nothing lacking here in terms of a strong central mystery nor a rich supporting cast alongside Stefanos. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-doorstopper fiction, but I like banging out a book in two days.
A Firing Offense is an enjoyable read that left me thinking about the whereabouts of Jimmy when I wasn’t reading it, which is a good sign of a page-turning crime book. I grabbed the next two novels in the series (which to date, I think is all there is) right after reading this one, so I can see myself returning to Nick’s world in short order.
Oh, and one thing I read in a lot of reviews before I picked this book up was that Pelecanos had worked a lot of music into this story and boy, was that true. Along the way, I started compiling a playlist on Spotify for all the music mentioned here. If you’re interested, here’s a link to the unofficial “soundtrack”.
Here’s a playlist for you… A Firing Offense by Brandon Sears