Friday, July 20, 2012

This early book from George Pelecanos introduces Nick Stephanos. 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.)

Stephanos agrees to look for the boy and is inspired to apply for a license as a P.I. Until his application is approved, he will use a forged license in his efforts. It initially appears that Broda was fired for failing to come in to work, but Nick soon learns that something deeper is going on. Jimmy has fallen into bad company and may be in trouble that is way over his head.

To facilitate his search for the missing boy, Nick takes a leave from the executive suite to return to the sales floor, which will give him more flexibility. As he does, the reader gets an eyeful of the sales practices at Nutty Nathan's, and is bound to be as lot more careful the next time he or she wanders into an electronics store in search of a new TV or other appliance.

Nick's search for Jimmy Brody leads him to question the direction of his own life and gets him into trouble with some fairly vicious people who don't want Nick poking his nose into other peoples' business. Naturally, Nick will ignore the warning to give up his search and this, in turn, will lead to an explosive climax.

Even though this is one of the author's earlier efforts, it's a great ride with an intriguing protagonist and fans of George Pelecanos's later work who have not yet found this book will want to search it out.

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