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Finders Keepers: The Story of a Man Who Found $1 Million Hardcover – October 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; 1 edition (October 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087113859X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871138590
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,065,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bowden follows two bestsellers (Black Hawk Down; Killing Pablo) with a tragicomic tale based on a series of articles he wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he was a reporter for two decades. Joey Coyle, at 28, is down and out, amiable but aimless, an unemployed longshoreman from South Philly who, despite his cheerful exterior, has a gnawing sense of inadequacy that he masks with methamphetamine. In February 1981, Joey has a spectacularly lucky or spectacularly unlucky, as Bowden shows with the tale's unfolding day: driving with a couple of guys from the neighborhood, he finds two sacks containing $1.2 million in cash. Despite major media attention on the money's disappearance from an armored car, Coyle decides to keep it. What ensues is partly a police procedural (will the cops find Joey?), but the drama, as Bowden relates the story, lies mainly in Coyle's rapid, drug-mediated deterioration into panic and paranoia as he attempts to launder and stash the money. Bowden's narrative is succinct and fast-moving, spare but complete, and ends in a farcical trial, in which Coyle tries an insanity defense, followed by Hollywood's muddled attempt to turn the story into a feel-good movie starring John Cusack. The tale has a sad conclusion, as Coyle's attempt to live up to his new role as a kind of urban hero fails. This is a smaller tale than Bowden's earlier ones, but a satisfying one, smartly told. (Oct.) Forecast: As Bowden writes, who doesn't dream of finding $1 million? This should have wide appeal, aided by Bowden's reputation.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Bowden's newest effort recounts true events that happened in early 1980s Philadelphia to Joey Coyle, a drug-addled, down-and-out longshoreman. One day, while on the way to score drugs, Joey and his two buddies spotted an armored van that had just spilled over $1 million in unmarked bills out onto the street. Without a second thought, Joey got out of the car and snatched up the bags. By all accounts (but especially his), this was Joey's lucky day until his drug-induced paranoia set in and his troubles really started. His frantic and pathetic attempts to launder the money are carefully chronicled by Bowden (Black Hawk Down; Killing Pablo), who pieces together all the facts and tries (as best he is able) to retrace the steps of Coyle and others whom he subsequently involved in his laundering efforts. Bowden's quick and intense story is like a joyride in print, but while interesting it is not as essential a purchase as his other works. Recommended for larger collections.
Rachel Collins, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Mark Bowden is the bestselling author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, as well as The Best Game Ever, Bringing the Heat, Killing Pablo, and Guests of the Ayatollah. He reported at The Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty years and now writes for Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and other magazines. He lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania.

Customer Reviews

I listened to Mark Bowden's reading of his book, Finders Keepers.
SL
One last thing, Joey Coyle is made out to be kind of a Robin Hood for how he was giving his money out.
Kevin Lynds
Well, this is a great story about a small time looser that screwed up and got caught.
cpt matt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Rex Hammock on November 6, 2002
Format: Audio Cassette
Another great book from Mark Bowden. But this time, I listened to the book as the author narrates it himself. He does a great job delivering this fascinating tale that he briefly covered as a young newspaper reporter. Later in his career, he did a retrospective series about the episode that became the basis for the very forgettable movie starring John Cusack, Money for Nothing. Bowden does a terrific job of reconstructing for the reader (or listener) the very private lives and moments of the story's principles. While few of the characters are very sympathetic, they nonetheless are, at least presented by Bowden, fascinating to follow. It's no Blackhawk Down, but it's a well-woven yarn.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Frank on December 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I received this as a Christmas present, and what a neat present it was!
I started reading this obviously fictional book about this unemployed meth addict Philadelphian dockworker named Joey who finds $1.2 million in unmarked unsequential $100 bills laying on the street -- a $1.2 million which literally fell off the back of the truck. He immediately enters into all these improbable and zany adventures, capped by an arrest at the airport as he's getting ready to fly to Acapulco! During his trial, his attorney opts for a temporary insanity defense, which the jury buys because the guy's buddies testify he "went bananas" for a week when he found the money.
Yet this comedy has an edge to it -- the tragedy of "men who were raised to go to work out on the docks like their fathers and uncles and older brothers, only there's no work for them on the docks anymore, and there's nothing else they know how to do.... It's a story about addiction, about the belief that there is a shortcut to true happiness."
When I got to the Epilogue, I was quite surprised to find that this obviously fictional story was true! The author tells what happened after the trial, and how Joey's story was literally Disneyfied -- and how his good fortune turned out to be his tragic ruin.
The typeface used is a bit distracting since there is no "1" -- and unlike ancient typewriters, instead of the small "L," the capital "I" is used: thus $100 is $I00 and 314 Dunfor Street is 3I4 Dunfor Street.
This is a great book because it encompasses universal themes -- Joey is a Greek tragic figure whose internal flaws, despite his good fortune, emerge to undo him. Many of us, likewise, have envisioned what we would do if sudden riches came upon us.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By George on February 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
Can there be such a thing as a funny true crime story?

Mark Bowden answers the question with a solid yes, with this tale of down and out Philidelphians whos stumble upon a box of armored car money.

It s aquick read that takes time to delve into the backgrounds of the major charachters enough to make us sympathetic to them and even pitty them at times. Well reported and not overwritten, which must have been ahrd because some of the charachters cried out for a lot of sterotypical descriptions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This a true story about one of those weird occurences in life that everyone hopes for in the back of their minds: A million dollars falls out of an armored car and some lucky stiff find it, grabs it, and takes it home. Unmarked bills! Untraceable bills! You could hide it for a long while, couldn't you? You could find a way to bank it, spend it, whatever, without anyone else knowing a thing, couldn't you? And, of course, you could give it back. Well, that's you. The drug addicted fool who actually found the money did none of these things. He created a bizarre whirwind of motion, but, in the end, he lost it all.
Mark Bowden tells this story fast and he tells it very well. You can rip through it in a night or two. It will be time well used.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I can think of lots of things I'd do if I suddenly found a million bucks, but going on a meth bender and blabbing to total strangers isn't even in the top ten. "Black Hawk Down" scribe Bowden dissects an amazing-but-true tale from his own South Philly backyard, where in 1981 speed freak Joey Coyle stumbled upon a carton of cash that literally fell off an armored car. From there Coyle made every bonehead move possible, from divvying his loot with a mobster to spilling drug-induced confessions. In fiction Coyle would wind up on a tropical isle, but the real tragicomic ending is still compelling, if only because it happened to some other schmuck. This account definitely evokes a hundred 'what-ifs' in every reader's mind.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Wilbert J. Morell on August 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book was about my second cousin who was a year older than I. My Coyle grandmother and his Coyle grandfather were sibblings. I lived in NE Phila and he lived in South Philly. Coyle Family was big so we had enough trouble knowing all our first cousins let alone our second cousins. The 70s and 80s was a bad period for teenagers and those of us coming back from Nam in the mid 70s.

The only thing I disbuted in the book is Joey did not kill himself, he was shut up by someone else who had most of the treasure he found and gave away? It was not difficult to find a mob connection in Philly (Italian or Irish mobs). Philly neighborhoods are closely integrated and everybody knew who were cops and who were gang or mob figures, and those that are full of it.

I liked the book enough to purchase the movie, but it has not arrived yet.

This is a very good and quick reading book that I highly recommend. City people from most big city neighborhoods could relate to people they know who were similar to Joey.

Enjoy
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