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The Friends of Eddie Coyle (John MacRae Books) Paperback – 22 Nov 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Company Inc; New edition edition (22 Nov. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805065989
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805065985
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 1.2 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,069,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Chilling...the most penetrating glimpse yet into what seems the real world of crime...positively reeking with authenticity!"--"The New York Times Book Review"

Book Description

'The best crime novel ever written' - Elmore Leonard --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
JACKIE BROWN at twenty-six, with no expression on his face, said that he could get some guns. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By C F Bremser on 6 Jan. 2003
Format: Paperback
George V Higgins was a Boston lawyer who took to writing; this is his first book. In it he displays his incredibly sharp ear for the many and various patois of the region; it is so precise that I've often wondered if anybody who has not lived in the Boston area and known its many dialects could truly appreciate the way Higgins captures them. Regardless (or, as they might say in Needham, IRregaddless), there are many other qualities to appreciate: his swift characterizations, his knack for suspense, his deft portrayal of criminals at the edge of their competence and the harried cops who chase them.
If you like Elmore Leonard, you'll like Higgins; indeed, Leonard acknowledges Higgins as one of his primary influences. Later in his literary career, Higgins would occasionally get bogged down in experiments with dialogue and plot - triply nested quotations, multiple flashbacks, excessive detail - but he always remained interesting. In this book, he is at his crispest: vital, perceptive, acute. "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" is a classic that deserves to be placed alongside "The Big Sleep" and "The Maltese Falcon".
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Dec. 2003
Format: Paperback
The novel is written in dialogue, with very little narrative. This means that you have to work hard to work out the plot. Higgins does not tell you. You are immediatly plunged into the world of a smalltime Boston criminal, Eddie Coyle, as he aims to buy guns for his bank robbing friends, gather useful information to pass on to the police, and stay out of prison for a drink smuggling charge. This seems like a tall order, as he is acutely aware. Previously, Coyle has collected an "extra set of knuckles", after his "friends" shut his fingers in a drawer and kicked it shut(retribution for selling traceable guns).
What is enjoyable about this novel is the sense of eavesdropping on an amoral world. The humour is deadpan and cynical. There is a constant sense of fear and paranoia. The impression that comes through is of the high price to be paid for a life of crime, in terms of mental peace.
Set in the 1970's against a background of student radicalism and racial tension, a bleak portrait of the country emerges. If you like Elmore Leonard, read Higgins to whom he owes an acknowledged debt. The recent film, Mystic River, based on a Dennis Lehane novel and again set in Boston, shares some of the grittiness of this world. It is not an easy read, but it is a thought provoking one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Reviewer on 26 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
The Friends of Eddie Coyle

This is a strange book. I was curious after hearing of its legendary reputation in the crime genre, but if you're new to Higgins, the density of the dialogue is disorienting at first. No run-of-the mill thriller, it could almost be a play, with the action unfolding almost entirely in reported speech. And speech among characters who lie to each other, too. Second or third readings are very well rewarded, however, and I agree with others who rate the book as classic to put alongside The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon. To think that this was GVH's publishing debut, at aged thirty two, is pretty staggering and it stands up as an important novel in its own right.

It's a complex tale of a small-time crook and gun-runner, Eddie 'Fingers' Coyle', who is facing jail and is forced to give evidence to the FBI. His 'friends' are a host of criminals in the Boston underworld, not to mention the untrustworthy cops, all of whom are constantly betraying one another. Not a lot is spelled out overtly and the reader has to pay close attention to keep up. GVH always said in defence of his dialogue-heavy novels that the 'characters are telling you the story'.

Still, what dialogue! I don't know how authentic the Boston Irish patois really is, but Higgins had been a lawyer and no doubt got a lot from his clients first-hand. 'Gritty doesn't do justice to the downbeat, jaded atmosphere and GVH's classy street poetry. 'Cinema verite' reported speech: repetitions, non-sequiturs, truly as if you are eavesdropping on real wiretapped conversation. There's no showiness or phony melodrama, though the book's ending is genuinely scary.

The film of the book, directed by Peter Yates plays around with the story, as per usual in movies, but stays true to the seedy, world-weary atmosphere. Outstanding performance from Robert Mitchum in an anti-hero role, (except he is way too charismatic to play Eddie Fingers).

A must-read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Officer Dibble VINE VOICE on 26 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you buy this get ready for an extremely stylised novel. The whole story is told in dialogue. All dialogue is stated as 'said' and there are no adverbs to help you. At first this appears difficult and affected but very quickly your ear becomes attuned as you race along with this gripping story.

It is a sort of 'pure' crime novel stripped right back. No moral judgements, just a fatalistic what goes around comes around appplied equally to criminals ('the man'), police ('uncle') and lawyers. The dialogue is just about comprehensible to a UK reader which is good as there is virtually no description of the world outside the tight plot.

It's short and absolutely cracking; a one-sitting read. Normally the sight of such a heavily stylised novel would be a major distraction for me but this is the exception. As another reviewer has said this really does belong in the very top drawer - this author should be far more famous.
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