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Nick's Trip by George P. Pelecanos

Nick's Trip (original 1993; edition 1999)

by George P. Pelecanos

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254545,069 (3.67)4
Title:Nick's Trip
Authors:George P. Pelecanos
Info:Serpent's Tail (1999), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 276 pages
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Nick's Trip by George P. Pelecanos (1993)



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I began reading George Pelecanos after binge-watching The Wire a few years back and discovering he was one of the creative minds behind it. I've bounced around in his catalog ever since and finally got around to Nick's Trip, his 2nd novel. It's a beaut, with a good plot, great characters, and real noir writing.

As with all his books, Pelecanos has a knack for painting a scene, particularly those set in the DC area. He obviously is a music fan and always includes aural sensations in his prose, which I find to be an interesting and unique touch. If you're familiar with the music of the eras in which he sets his stories, it's almost like having a soundtrack while reading. That may just be me, though.... Otherwise, his writing is excellent- stripped down, first-person, extremely direct and descriptive.

Nick's Trip has the part-time PI, Nick Stefanos, engaged in a couple mysteries, one involving an old high school friend who appeared out of nowhere, and the other the murder of an acquaintance that hasn't been solved. There's a lot of brutality, a little sex, and a lot of drinking involved. In fact, the only real problem I had with the story was that the impairment caused by the excessive drinking described throughout should have impeded a lot of the action, but it seemed to have no effect. I realize Stefanos would be described as an alcoholic, but even with a high tolerance it should have had an impact.

The author does a fine job developing his characters, with Stefanos being done particularly well. The stories bounce back and forth between his engagements, tied together by characters who frequent the bar where Stefanos is primarily employed. Although the PI and detective work proceed pretty conventionally, both situations are concluded in surprising fashion.

I'm glad I went back to (nearly the) beginning to see where the author began and to gauge how much he's grown. In the books he's written since, he's introduced different characters, professions, and eras, but through it all it's obvious that he loves the DC area, its people, and music. He's a favorite. ( )
  gmmartz | Oct 6, 2016 |
In Nick Stefanos’ second book, he is now officially a PI. Nick’s Trip has him taking on two cases, one of a friend whose murder had gone unsolved long enough, the other in the person of a childhood friend who walks through the door of the bar in which Nick supposedly works part time; he spends more time there than doing any actual investigating. While Nick’s world only touches the street-level life that Pelecanos has become known for exploring, he still finds new and refreshing ways to examine the complexities of character and life. He creates an environment where cut-and-dried solutions are in no way feasible, then forces Nick to find other answers. Nick’s Trip is definitely worth taking. ( )
  JohnWCuluris | Jul 4, 2016 |
Nick Stefanos, newly licensed P.I., has discovered that just hanging out the shingle in the yellow pages is not enough to bring in hoards of customers, so to help pay the rent he hires out as a bartender to help make ends meet. That’s where his old drinking buddy, Billy Goodrich, finds him, hoping to secure Nick’s investigative services. It seems Billy’s wife, April, has run off and disappeared, ostensibly with Joey DiGiardano, son of an aging local crime boss. For old time’s sake, Nick takes the case, only to discover that Joey would like to find April, too; she made off with $200,000 of his money. At the same time, Nick wants to know why his friend William Henry, recently retired reporter was killed. The police put the murder in the context of a robbery, but Nick knows that can’t be the truth, because the security at William’s apartment building was just too good to let in just anyone. It had to be someone William knew. The trail leads to burned-out pizza shops and crooked cops even as he discovers that Billy has been lying to him about virtually everything. Pelecanos ranks up there with Jim Thompson, James Cain, and [b:Raymond Chandler|2052|The Big Sleep|Raymond Chandler|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41AGA624Z5L._SL75_.jpg|1222673]. Nick is of the classic, hard-boiled detective genre, and Pelancanos a pleasure to read. His writing is crisp and intelligent, laced with nice touches of humor. One evening, Nick squires a lesbian friend to her Christmas office party to help her fend off the lecherous accountants. Soon, he’s more than a little snookered but having a great time, constantly changing his profession and lifestyle for each person he meets. “And to shut down a guy who would not stop talking to me about his son’s high school football program, I proudly proclaimed, with a subtle flutter of my eyes, that I was studying to be a male nurse, explaining that I had chosen the profession ‘for the uniforms.’ ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
During the first half of this book I thought, Here we go again! A Bret Ellis knockoff. Two drugged and drunken trips south. The second half was much better. Some good investigative work and a couple of nicely done showdowns (along with a third--that came first--that was a little too lucky to be believed). Nice subplot with a lesbian couple and a happy development in Nick's love life. ( )
  Darrol | May 5, 2011 |
NICK'S TRIP continues the journey of Nick Stefanos, who looks for a friend's missing wife while tending bar and generally leading a life of dissolution. Sound wholesome? Not even close. But a hard-boiled novel of great power and heart, it definitely is. ( )
  zenosbooks | Feb 26, 2009 |
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An old high-school friend drags Nick Stefanos into a complex and deadly conspiracy involving drugs, theft, intrigue, and murder.

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