Top positive review
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A tour de force of dialogue, suspense, and atmosphere
on 6 January 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".