cover image Nick's Trip

Nick's Trip

George P. Pelecanos / Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (276p)

This hip and sometimes nasty booze-dope-and-good-times tale follows A Firing Offense, the first appearance of Washington, D.C., sleuth Nick Stefanos. It offers breezy, slightly uneven entertainment and some well-aimed criticism of the current music scene. Nick tends bar at the Spot, makes athletic love with his girlfriend, Lee, and agrees to impregnate his lesbian pal Jackie as a favor. Then a former road-trip buddy named Billy shows up at the Spot one night and announces that his wife is missing, as is $200,000 that belongs to a minor-league numbers runner. Nick trails the wife to the backwoods south of the city, where a mean former lover of hers slaughters pigs for kicks and a living. Then the father of the numbers runner gives Nick an unexpected lead in the unsolved murder of his journalist pal, William Henry. A cast of sharply etched minor characters, including a liquored-up, burned-out cop who plays a part in the credible, sobering conclusion, adds to the pleasures offered by the offbeat Nick, with his gruff sensibilities and fine taste in women and music. (Mar.)