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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2002
would be an appropriate subtitle for this roman a clef wherein Whitey, Steve "the Rifleman" Flemmi, notorious FBI agent John Connally and their circle get the classic Higgins treatment. Once again the soliloquies are the star attraction, full of Higginsian rifts and rants, ribald, vulgar, always shrewd and sometimes wise, but always lush of language, on the thousand and one shocks that make getting through the day such an difficult and unrewarding task. While its true all the characters talk in the same patois (even the woman talk out of the side of their mouths) you grant Higgins the indulgence so absorbing are these blue collar monologues. Updike speaking through the mouth of Rabbit is the closest comparison I can think of.
Sadly, this was Higgins valediction, so it is appropriate that it is such a Boston story; for nobody delineated the world of hoodlum Beantown these last thirty years like George V. Higgins. Like all the best, he created a world, and for all the sordidness and cynicism animating it, it was not without its charms: in his wonderful novels the pen does prove mightier than the sawed-off shotgun.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon September 9, 2000
The books of George V. Higgins are, I suspect, an acquired taste. They are considered by many readers to be too difficult because there is no straight forward narration and because so much of the books are made up of dialogue - or more often, long monologues. The plot emerges slowly from what the characters say. A reader who is in a hurry to be engaged in the story is likely to be disappointed. But for those who have grown to love Higgins's ear for vernacular and the peculiarities of ordinary speech, all of his books are treasures that can be savored slowly for the richness of the language alone.
At End of Day is the story of an unholy alliance between two members of the Boston mob and a select group of FBI agents whose careers have been made successful through information these mobsters have provided about their Mafia counterparts. The FBI, in turn, has protected these men from prosecution which has allowed them to even commit murder with impunity (though this is "against the rules"). This tale is all the more interesting because it is based on a true story.
It is a shame that this is the last Higgins book we will have. He died as it was going to press. On the positive side, he wrote so many books during his career that fans of his style should have no trouble finding something to satisfy that acquired taste.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2002
The sad death of George V Higgins means this will be his last book. It is certainly one to remember. Readers new to Higgins will at first find his style somewhat "difficult": his novels centre on the criminals, law enforcement agents and politicians (they are usually amusingly similar) of Boston, but instead of the usual descriptive narrative, the plot unfolds through the conversations of people often only tangentially concerned with its developement. Once one gets used to this digressive way of telling a story one quickly becomes engrossed in the story he is relating: in this case, the disturbingly close relationship between Boston's chief FBI agents and two leaders of organised crime in the city (apparantly based on a real case). I have to confess to being slightly disappointed with some of Higgins' most recent works (although they are still better than most "crime" fiction), but this last novel is brilliant; I know it is a cliche, but I could not put it down. One is genuinely engaged by the diverse and acutely drawn characters, though Higgins cleverly constantly reminds us that behind their apparant good-nature and charm, most of them are really either cold-blooded loan sharks who have no compunction in using extreme violence to maintain their way of life, or law enforcement officials (and their families) with a somewhat ambivalent attitude to the law they are supposed to be enforcing! As with most of Higgins' novels, I immediately went back and re-read it, and of course saw things I had missed first time: you certainly get good value out of his books. I would class this as one of his best, and it is very sad to think that there will not be any more. It is my intention to go back and read every one of this excellant author's magnificent contribution to modern American literature (and, I contend, he is far too good a writer to be "ghettoised" in 'crime fiction'.)
Readers new to George V Higgins would find "At End Of Day" a good place to start, those who know what to expect will not be at all disappointed. My advice is READ IT!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2000
I read "At End of Day" in honor of Higgins's passing. In a (perhaps not so) strange coincidence, it deals with exactly the same topic (shady symbiotic alliance between FBI agents and two Boston organized crime figures) as the recent and highly touted non-fiction book "Black Mass" (apologies for forgetting the authors). While not GVH's best novel (even among the recent ones, I prefer "The Agent"), I found it much more enjoyable than the disappointing "Black Mass". One slight cavil, possibly attributable to various rush factors: AEoD is not as well-edited as other GVH books, with a variety of typos and misspellings. Maybe not for Higgins newcomers, but recommended to fans of his Boston crime work, and anyone who's read "Black Mass" ought to check it out for a different approach.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2001
George V. Higgins' "At End of Day" is reminiscent of the work of KC Constantine, with its wonderful addiction to dialogue. I have not read "The friends of Eddie Coyle", but it is next on my list. AEoD is a long trip through the lives of two FBI agents and two gangsters,who, while they do work together, are not buddies,least of all Arthur McKeon(the treacherous McKeach).GVH's chracters seem to deliver Shakespeare length monologues, but they never become tiresome. Some readers may wonder where the action is, but when you read Higgins' vivid description of McKeach beating a potential business rival,you'll be glad the violence is kept to a minimum. Every character could be a living,breathing person(and some are, this is based on a true story) and there are about three novels' worth of conversation in this book. I enjoyed every line (twice, 'cause I relly had to read it twice for understanding!). A beautiful end to what I hope was a killer career
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2008
Higgins is one of my favorites, end of story. If he has to be categorized as a "crime writer", there are 4 or 5 of his classics that rate as the best ever (Eddie Coyle, Digger's Game, Cogan's Trade, etc.).

At End of Day was Higgins playing off the FBI/Whitey Bulger fiasco. It wasn't his best effort, but it was close enough for jazz to rate way about the rest of the field. There are a few books of his I couldn't get through (or had to fight my way through--much like James Ellroy's Cold Six Thousand--just couldn't get through it). End of Day isn't one of them. He left us with a beauty.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2013
This is the story - with almost all the details right - of the Whitey Bulger and Steve (The Rifleman) Flemmi saga. Bulger's trial is now underway in Boston's Federal Court and George V. Higgins, one of our greatest writers, had the whole story right and the guts to tell it shortly before he died, too young, in 1999.

No one, not John P. Marquand or Robert Parker or Edmund O'Connor ever caught the unique speech, both pattern and content, that is Boston's and New England's alone like George V. Higgins does here and in the 29 other books he wrote. Some readers complain it's tough going, having to make sense of dialogue that replaces description. I'm from here, so maybe that makes it easier for me, but to savor his words, words said the way I still hear them, less now to be sure as we homogenize our speech, about people I knew or feel I could have known, set in places I live and work in daily, is pure joy. In his words I hear my history being told one more time. For an outsider, it might be tough going, but I promise you it's worth every minute spent reading what he wrote, both for the content (spot on) and the style (like I said, nobody does Boston better.)

But the play's the thing, and here Higgins had either incredible foresight or great sources or more likely, both, because I have friends reading it as they watch the trial feed on Twitter and the evening news (no cameras in Federal courts) and they are simply amazed that anyone, let alone an author dead for 15 years, could have known the whole sordid story and written it down long before they tracked Whitey down. There's no point detailing the plot - it's all on the news. Don't let that deter you, though, because there isn't a face, much less a mind, on TV or in the public prints today who can tell the story the way Higgins does.

I like Elmore Leonard when he writes about crime in Detroit, but he doesn't hold a candle to Higgins' mastery of both his subject and his setting, and Leonard has called him one of greatest writers - high praise from a fellow writer. This was Higgins last book, apart from a posthumous collection of unpublished shorter pieces, and some say it suffers from a lack of polish. Whitey never suffered - as his victims did, and they are legion - until now, nor do the FBI and the Massachusetts State Police who are equally guilty, both in the book as in life, for their inability (and wanton criminal unwillingness on the part of the FBI) to bring this murderer to justice years ago. I have to disagree, as the lack of polish mirrors the lives and personas of everyone involved. This is a novel that's truer than the truth if only because the author had the license to tell it, the smarts (he was a lawyer and former Assistant DA in Suffolk County) that keep you glued to the page; the sources, cops and criminals both; and most of all the literary skills to tell it honestly.

I cannot recommend this book (and almost all of his other novels) too highly. He, and his story, are just that good: in this case, too good to be anything but true, and the truth of that statement is on the news every night these days. If you've managed to miss George V. Higgins until now, well, you've a lot of time to make up for reading what he wrote and to spend a bit of it reading "At End of Day."
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2006
A great fan of Higgins, I have read many of his books many times. Perhaps he didn't have time to polish At the End of Day, perhaps it was pushed because he died. It's just not very good. The dialogue doesn't work, the Bulger/Flemmi theme is overplayed, and if it weren't by Higgins it would have sunk like a stone. And no matter what conventional {ab}usage allows, the old Higgins would never have used "gunsel" to describe a gunman.
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on January 27, 2015
This George V. Higgins crime novel from 2000, At End Of Day, has to be pure fiction, right. The FBI, the G-men, a couple of guys in the guys in the Boston office anyway, trying to put a rope around the guys who talk in low whispers, nods and bullets, the Italian Mafia, the “our thing” guy enlist the aid of a couple of leg-breakers, hit men, independent contractors, loan sharks whatever needs to be done, illegally done a specialty. One guy an Irishman, Arthur, maybe from Southie, a guy, doing not uncommon work over in those precincts and the other guy a not “our thing” Italian guy, Nick, maybe from the North End also doing not uncommon work over in those precincts are feeding information to “Uncle, ” feeding it at the dinner table in one the agents' houses, with the understanding that their own operations, short of murder of course will get a pass. No way this could be the real FBI, certainly not Efram Zimbalist, Jr.’s FBI, not J. Edgar’s. Why it would be a scandal all over the daily prints. Right. So George V. Higgins, ex-prosecutor around Boston is just blowing smoke here. Just letting his imagination run wild having Arthur blow town after a hit, whereabouts unknown, maybe unknowable, and Nick caught in a State Police operation where the G-men, Sloat and Farrier, were clueless worrying, tight stomach worrying about taking out a "loan" from Nick to cover Sloat's mortgage. Pure fantasy unless you have been reading the newspapers around Boston over the past several years.

A lot of times when an author “speaks” to me I tend to go on a rampage going through the litany of whatever he or she has written. That is the case of late with the late Boston novelist and professor George V. Higgins whose work is a special case (like Dennis Lehane of late) since most of the locales and most of the types who populate his novels are very familiar, maybe too familiar to me almost from childhood. Too familiar from the robber baron corner boys turned gangsters who preyed on the edges of our working class neighborhoods to the “on the make” politicos mapping out their career paths from about their eighth year (in full disclosure I went some distance on that route until I realized that I had to try to live with myself most days and would have not been able to say that on most days on that path) to renegade priests trying to conceal their lusts under the collar to the copper who made life easy for the previously mentioned brethren. We were all mixed together down there at the dangerous base society, the grim place when the working poor hung with their outsized hungers and it is only happenstance that one goes one way and the other another. Here is the way I put it in previous review of a Higgins crime novel:

“Hey, any friend of Eddie Coyle’s is a friend of mine. You know Eddie, right, the Cambridge-bred corner boy who got tied up with some guys who did some things, a little of this and that late at night, a little of this and that about giving guys the means to go rooty-toot-tooton their appointed chores, did some things that “Uncle” might take umbrage at and try to put a guy away for, for a nickel or a dime, maybe. And poor middle-aged sag Eddie did not want to do the time, no way, but also got caught up in something too big for him to handle. So you know Eddie Coyle, the guy who was found not looking too pretty one cop car morning in the back of a stolen Chevy in some back parking lot in some dead-drop bowling alley off Dorchester Avenue in Boston.

Actually now that I think about the matter I don’t know, never heard of, could not say word one about some guy, what was his name again, oh yeah, Eddie Coyle. And of course while a lot of ex-corner boys (Jack Slack’s bowling alleys in North Adamsville for me) knew plenty of guys exactly like benighted Eddie no one could actually know him since he was the fictional creation of the author under review, George V. Higgins, in his first and most famous crime novel, The Friends Of Eddie Coyle published in 1972 (and later adapted for the cinema starring Robert Mitchum as the stand-up guy of the title). But, see, Brother Higgins was a prolific writer and although many of his best works and pieces of righteous ear for “street” dialogue involved low-end, well, gangster types he wrote other crime-centered books where the “bad guys” were not front and center, did not in the final push get away with murder. Although in the book under review, The Mandeville Talent, it was a close thing, a very close thing.”

In At End Of Day rates with old Eddie Coyle's saga since Higgins has got an ear for that local gangster talk, their ways of operation in the world, and their oversized dreams. And a big deflate on the local G-men.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2010
I am extremely pleased with the service I received from Magnolia-Avenue. The product was as described-in excellent condition and delivered promptly. I will deal exclusively with this vendor whenever possible.
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