cover image A Firing Offense

A Firing Offense

George P. Pelecanos / Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (216p)

Thirtysomething Nick Stefanos, up-from-the-sales-floor ad manager at a Washington, D.C., electronics chain, has quit smoking and considerably reduced his drug intake but still drinks pretty heavily. When the grandfather of Jimmy Broda, a stockboy Nick has befriended, asks him to help find the missing boy, Nick reluctantly agrees. Jimmy has been hanging out with skinheads and Nick begins plumbing that world after he's fired from his job. With time and severance pay on his hands he follows Jimmy's trail to the resorts of the Carolina Outer Banks, moving back to Washington to unravel a plot that involves drugs, violence and murder. Besides offering an inside look at electronics retailing, dreary skinheads, a nostalgic list of late baby-boomers' pop songs and quite a lot of drinking (including a solo binge by Nick that feels gratuitous), Pelacanos also delivers a blazing, climactic shoot-out. Nick's weltschmerz is saved from excess by the cool, controlled prose and the realistic, rather bleak resolution. (Apr.)