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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tour de force of dialogue, suspense, and atmosphere
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...
Published on 6 Jan 2003 by C F Bremser

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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
For me this was more a book to admire than to love. It tells the story almost entirely in dialogue. It is a great achievement. It did take me a while to fully understand what was going on but I quickly picked it up.
This book certainly seems to have had a huge impact on other authors and to have been very influential on Film Directors like Tarentino.

I...
Published 15 months ago by The Emperor


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tour de force of dialogue, suspense, and atmosphere, 6 Jan 2003
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listening in on some bad men, 17 Dec 2003
By A Customer
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern classic of the genre, 26 Jun 2007
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic hardboiled Higgins - twisting plot mostly told through scintillating dialogue, 8 July 2002
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Peter Fenelon - See all my reviews
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Eddie's world is in a mess. His "friends" have smashed his hand in adesk drawer because he supplied a gun with a history to another crook;he's taken the rap for a little illciit transport of liquor, and hisattempt to turn informant to secure himself a shorter sentence seems tobe causing him at least as much trouble as his crimes did.As ever, Higgins' characters swim through the murky waters of the Bostonunderworld talking, talking, talking as they go - this is anotherclassic of dialogue and atmosphere. Short, sharp, punchy and colloquial,it's everything Higgins does best distilled into one near-perfect novel.pete
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top drawer, 26 Jun 2009
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Officer Dibble (Zummerzet) - See all my reviews
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Clever, 13 April 2013
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I did feel that this was a clever way of writing, essentially it is all dialogue. So you get little description, other than character thoughts and observations.

Ultimately, this book is a good read. This is not really a strong gangster type book, but more follows one mans attempts to be part of that world.

A good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read it, 13 Mar 2013
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A classic 70's crime thriller, which captured the mood of the time, but hasn't dated.

Read it. Read it now. Before Eddie Coyle comes to ask you why you haven't.....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Noir Novel, 12 Mar 2013
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Given prominence in the Guardian's crime novel section of '1000 novels everyone must read'. No heroes, few sympathetic characters - classic noir.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dialogue so realistic, you could be there!, 10 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Paperback)
A classic novel that I had to read, as a new novelist (my latest: Deadly Intrigue). I read this book because I'd seen it referred to so often by other writers, in terms of the skilful use of dialogue. Elmore Leonard considered it the best crime novel ever written. I wasn't disappointed.
It's a short book (50,000 words) and the pace starts gradually, building realistic scenes and characters in the Boston underworld. At that early stage, you have no idea of the plot.
Each chapter is really a conversation, each utterly believable. Eddie Coyle with other criminals; Eddie with the police; Criminals planning their crimes, talking about jail, and discussing Eddie; Police discussing crimes, and what Eddie could do for them. So the viewpoints are changing regularly, but it's all connected with the same crimes and Eddie's involvement.
By the half-way point, we are well into the plot, following all of the viewpoints, and sensing that they are now converging towards some final outcome. By then we are beginning to get anxious to know what will happen to Eddie.
That's when you can't put the book down.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 26 Jan 2013
By 
The Emperor (UK) - See all my reviews
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For me this was more a book to admire than to love. It tells the story almost entirely in dialogue. It is a great achievement. It did take me a while to fully understand what was going on but I quickly picked it up.
This book certainly seems to have had a huge impact on other authors and to have been very influential on Film Directors like Tarentino.

I am glad that I read this but I wouldn't be in a rush to read other books by the author.
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The Friends of Eddie Coyle
The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins (Paperback - 6 Sep 2012)
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