Nick’s Trip

Nick’s Trip – George Pelecanos

When his old friend Billy walks into the bar asking for Nick’s help in finding his missing wife, Nick finds himself reminiscing about a trip the pair took years ago where they had been tasked with towing a boat from Washington DC to the Florida Keys.  Nick and Billy spent the majority of that trip high off their asses and swimming in booze and when the opportunity to take another liquor-soaked voyage with Billy arises, Nick jumps at the chance.  Meanwhile, simmering on the back burner, is a case Nick is working pro-bono, where an investigative reporter friend of his had been found murdered and the trail had gone cold.  Can Nick find the missing woman and uncover the culprit behind his friend’s murder?

Nick has a hell of a lot of talent when it comes to boots-on-the-ground hard detective work, but he seemingly isn’t ready to take a serious stab at it yet, judging by his lackadaisical approach to seeking out clients and finding work.  He generally spends his days and nights slinging drinks at a dive bar in D.C. while getting loaded and goofing off.  Nick is floating around in the space between carefree youth and adult responsibility, which I suppose is fine if you’re in your twenties, but Nick is knocking on the door to forty without much of an idea of what he wants to do.  If Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder series has taught me anything, getting blackout drunk isn’t something your body will ever get good at. 

Nick is the kind of guy you just want to grab by the shoulders and tell him to wake up, but it’s hard to argue with his method. He gets results, although I sometimes wonder how much of it is luck.   Like all the best detectives, Nick takes an absolute pounding when he makes the slightest headway but you can always trust him to do the right thing, regardless of how things threaten to shake out for those involved.  He’s definitely smarter than he gives himself credit for, but we all are often our own worst enemies.

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