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Cogan's Trade (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) [Kindle Edition]

George V. Higgins
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

A hard-hitting, tour de force tale of the mob and the man who makes sure their rules are the only rules, by the American master of crime George V. Higgins.
Jackie Cogan is an enforcer, and when the mob's rules get broken, Cogan is called in to take care of business. This time a high-stakes card game has been held up by an unknown gang of thugs. Calculating, ruthless, businesslike, and with a shrewd sense of other people's weaknesses, Cogan plies his trade, moving among a variety of hoods, hangers-on, and big-timers, tracking those responsible, and returning "law and order" to the lawless Boston underworld.
Combining remarkable wit, crackling dialogue, and a singular ability to show criminal life as it is lived, George V. Higgins builds an incredible story of crime to an unforgettable climax.

Editorial Reviews


 “Higgins deserves to stand in the company of the likes of Chandler and Hammett as one of the true innovators in crime fiction.” —Scott Turow
"Higgins can plot a whole book like one long chase scene. He can write dialogue so authentic it spits." —Life
"The Balzac of the Boston underworld. ... Higgins is almost uniquely blessed with a gift for voices, each of them ... as distinctive as a fingerprint."—The New Yorker
“One of the great crime writers of the twentieth century.” —Kansas City Star

“Higgins writes about the world of crime with an authenticity that is unmatched.” --The Washington Post
“A uniquely gifted writer . . . who does at least as well by the Hogarthian Boston he knows as Raymond Chandler once did for Southern California.” —The New York Times
"Superb. . . Higgins is a complete novelist. His work will be read when the work of competing writers has been forgotten."—Chicago Daily News
"Brilliant. . . Higgins is a master stylist."--New York Post
“George V. Higgins’s mastery of the patois of the Boston criminal class is legendary.” —San Jose Mercury News

About the Author

George V. Higgins was assistant DA in Boston before becoming a defense attorney and then a full-time writer. Described as 'the Balzac of Boston' and 'the poet of Boston sleaze' he wrote over thirty books, including a handful of lowlife masterpieces constructed almost entirely of pitch-perfect dialogue. He died in 1999. Cogan's Trade is the book behind the major motion picture Killing Them Softly starring Brad Pitt.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1010 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0050DIWL6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,947 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic of this genre. March 6, 2006
Cogan's Trade was one of George Higgins' earlier crime novels written in the 1970s. It is uniquely written in that the text is almost all dialogue. It is a story of Boston area Irish-American lowlife mobsters and their escapades. It concerns the gunpoint robbery of a mob-protected high stakes card game and the mayhem that ensues. The characters are all quite colorful and their language captures the time and the mileu. It is a novel I've reread several times and throughly enjoyed each reading . Definitely recommended for aficionados of the hard-boiled school of crime novels.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of George V. Higgins January 17, 2008
By Slim
The late George V. Higgins earned a reputation as a master of low-life dialogue. Entire chapters of his books were often conversations, sometimes essentially monologues. This was a risky way to write. Some readers found the endless talk tedious, and many (this reviewer included) found his output uneven.

Cogan's Trade was perhaps his best, a slender and deceptively simple tale of intramural activity of the Boston area mob. A web of connections determines who does what to whom as the title character emerges to become a grand inquisitor who forgot about the commandment that states "Thou shalt not kill." Jackie Cogan, compact and intense, is a cold-blooded paradigm of mob virtue, while other characters prove they're not as smart as they think they are.

The result is a suspenseful tale full of comic relief. Most readers are content to go along for the ride, but the repeat reader begins to see layers and symbolism in the this little masterpiece from "the Balzac of the Boston underworld."
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Week In The Life Of.... January 25, 2008
Mario Puzo gives us eloquent and artistic proses when unfolding a story of the Mafia, and underworld. George V. Higgins gives you the grit, the hard-boiled inner-workings of low on the totem pole true thugs. On reading the book, you feel like your sitting around the table listening to their conversation face to face. The author's gift of planting the reader on street level of day to day goings on of south Boston mobsters is astounding. George V. Higgins today, is quite underrated and thinly read. It's an abysmal shame.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mob Handyman Takes Care of Business December 28, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When you run a business and problems pop up, you have to retain specialists to deal with them. Say you operate a restaurant and your dishwasher breaks down; you have to bring in a plumber to fix it. Your business uses computers to keep track of inventory and your server goes down? Chances are you are going to have to hire an IT expert.

So it is with organized crime: when an enterprise goes off the tracks, somebody has to fix it - particularly when the way it goes awry scares away the customers the business depends on. Thus, when a trio of numbskulls robs a Mafia-protected illegal gambling operation in Boston in 1974. The mob turns to Jackie Cogan to manage the repair job.

Fixing the damage is crucial: since the robbery, all the mob-connected card games have shut down and the Mafia is losing a fortune in tribute the games' operators pay to remain in business. The success of one robbery has raised the prospect of copycats, so the perpetrators must be found and dealt with quickly.

Cogan is a specialist in fixing this type of problem by a judicious application of violence. It is, in fact, his profession: Cogan's Trade, as it is styled in the original title of the 1974 novel by George V. Higgins (that has been turned into the motion picture, "Killing Them Softly," just released this month).

Any thoughtful person who has read one of Higgins' books knows that action is not his métier. Higgins, who died in 1999, cut his teeth on organized crime, first as an assistant district attorney, then an Assistant U.S. Attorney assigned to the federal Organized Crime Strike Force, and finally as a newspaper reporter and columnist.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars loved it September 25, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I had read The Friends of Eddie Coyle years ago and recognized it as deserving its classic status. Having seen a preview of the new movie - called Killing Them Softly - which is based on this book, Cogan's Trade, I sought out the book and enjoyed reading it. Loved the characters, the dialogue (Higgins' dialogue stands out, of course), the awfulness!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When George V Higgins was good. September 14, 2012
In his later books, the dialogue completlely overpowered the plot. In this one, his third I think, Higgins still had a story to tell. The "he made two mistakes" analysis to justify a hit comes close to Catch-22 for devastating logic. It's at least 40 years old and I still re-read this one (and Eddie Coyle, and Digger's Game) every so often.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Master Class in Dialogue and Character September 1, 2013
Many years ago I read Higgins's most famous novel, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, and didn't get what all the fuss what about. With many hundreds of books under my belt since then, including this one, I now have a much better sense of why Higgins is so revered among crime fiction cognoscenti. Simply put, it's his ear for the dialogue and mores of the criminal world.

The plot is certainly nothing remarkable -- some small time hoods scheme to knock over an after-hours card game and put the blame on the guy running the game. This causes all the other after-hours card games to shut down, and the mob sends fixer Jackie Coogan in to clean things up. A few complications ensue, but the book is not about the plotting, it's about the telling of the story. And that's done almost entirely through dialogue.

But not just any dialogue -- these aren't conventional fictional conversations with begins, middles, and ends. In many cases, the reader is dropped into a conversation that's already begun, and there can be long passages where the topic of discussion is somewhat opaque, until one works it out from context. It's kind of an amazingly improbably blend of the highly realistic with the highly stylized. One would be hard-pressed to come away from this (and other ) Higgins books not believing that Quentin Tarantino has read and absorbed them all.

Readers who like their crime to be plot-driven will probably find this story kind of frustrating, given how meandering it is. It's also pretty clear from the get-go what's going to happen and when, so those who need their crime stories to be full of suspense will be similarly frustrated. But if you're looking for a master class in creating character through dialogue, this is it!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent, best Higgins
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
This is a clever anti-hero story and an incredible lesson in character POV and dialogue.
Published 7 months ago by T Rod
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book
After watching the movie "Killing Them Softly," I really wanted to read the book on which it was based. Read more
Published 7 months ago by @jasonk5322
5.0 out of 5 stars Much happier with the book than the film
I picked this up to read before watching the 2012 movie 'Killing Them Softly' starring Brad Pitt. Much happier with the book than the film. Down and dirty, Higgins nails it.
Published 7 months ago by Bob Geary
2.0 out of 5 stars Youse Guys
Although written in the same talking style as "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" (which I liked) this book was very difficult for me to follow. Read more
Published 7 months ago by JEM
4.0 out of 5 stars Cogan's Trade
A good read. Higgins is a good story teller that keeps the reader in the loop but not knowing the outcome.
Published 8 months ago by Leland L. Harms
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but lacks depth of movie
I read this book after seeing the movie, Killing Them Softly. What I didn't realize is that the book is almost 40 years old and pretty dated. Read more
Published 9 months ago by M J Reed
3.0 out of 5 stars Not What I Had Hoped For But Not A Disappointment
This book was not as good as I was expecting. It had some tough guy, gangster style dialog and some classic muscle car references for the cool factor but really spent a lot of time... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Brian Glass
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the Best!
Of the great George V. Higgins crime novels, this is at the top level. Again the story is told mainly through dialogue, in Higgins' incomparable way, the way individual Boston... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Tony Cashmore
5.0 out of 5 stars King of Dialogue
Listening to Higgins' characters tell you the story while you watch for the twists and turns of the plot in their dialogues is one of the great joys in reading.
Published 11 months ago by alan k felsen
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