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The Friends of Eddie Coyle: A Novel Paperback – April 27, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

George V. Higgins's first novel is like a blast of Atlantic air; the Boston prosecutor virtually reinvents the language of the crime novel with his unique ability to breathe life into the dialogue of the smalltime hoodlum and hustler. Trying to pull off one final score, career crook Eddie Coyle finds himself squeezed out of shape by the people above and below him. The explosive conclusion is inevitable yet fascinating. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Rings true as a police siren. (The Boston Globe)

The best crime novel ever written--makes The Maltese Falcon read like Nancy Drew. (Elmore Leonard)

Chilling . . . The most penetrating glimpse yet into what seems the real world of crime. . . . Positively reeking with authenticity. (The New York Times Book Review)

Truly a bravura performance. Higgins is a master of colorful street language heard around Boston. Throughout the novel, without quaintness or self-parody, he is able to sustain long arias of criminal shoptalk. . . . A sophisticated thriller. (Time)

First-rate, absolutely convincing, enormously readable. (The Christian Science Monitor)

Simultaneously a brilliant thriller and a cold and convincing business prospectus of felony--a profession that traps both sides, gunmen and policemen, into ceaseless compulsory degardations. (The New Yorker)

The most powerful and frightening crime novel that I have read this year. It will be remembered long after the year is over, as marking the debut of a fine original talent. (Ross Macdonald)

The first thing to know about George V. Higgins' The Friends of Eddie Coyle is that it directly entered the crime-fiction canon upon its 1970 publication. The second thing to know is that it holds up as both a writer's-writer thriller and as popular pulp, with Dennis Lehane introducing Picador's new 40th-anniversary reissue of the novel by heralding it as 'the game-changing crime novel of the last fifty years'--a moderate claim compared to that of Elmore Leonard, who hails it as the best crime novel period. (Troy Patterson, SLATE)

Weighed and calibrated like the barrel of a pistol. The fact that he's writing about crooks is crucial in some ways, incidental in others. The real subjects here are life's futility and its bleak humor… Elmore Leonard learned from this novel, likewise David Mamet and of course Quentin Tarantino, who saw the narrative virtue in marrying violence to comedies of manners…. Higgins took the tough-guy novel into areas of demented anthropology and re-created a genre. (Richard Rayner, Los Angeles Times)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 40th Anniversary edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031242969X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312429690
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (199 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Erik J. Larsen on January 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
I read a list by James Ellroy where he listed Higgins as one of his major influences, so I bought this one. I was pleasantly surprised.
The story is very simple, the dialog is incredibly lifelike and readable. The characters are very real and the story is believable. Its not really a mystery as much as it is a story about some criminals and what they think and feel.
Warning, though. Don't buy this if you like the 'high concept' plots of Grisham and Patterson. This is a very simple story about real people and real criminals. If you're an aspiring writer of crime fiction, definitely check it out especially the dialog.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on October 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
Eddie Coyle is a low-level Boston hood, supplying mobsters with handguns. He earned his nickname, "Fingers", after one gun deal went poorly & he had his hand slammed in a drawer, giving him an extra set of knuckles on his left hand. Once in a while the mob throws him some more lucrative work, but on the last such opportunity he was arrested in New Hampshire illegally trucking liquor. Now he faces three to five years in prison and as he says: "Well, ...I got three kids and a wife at home, and I can't afford to do no more time, you know? The kids're growing up and they go to school, and the other kids make fun of them and all. Hell, I'm almost forty-five years old."
The only way Eddie can avoid prison is to trade information & he's soon caught in between the Feds, his gun dealer & the Mob. George V. Higgin's debut novel (now almost thirty years old) is notable for it's streetwise dialogue and the nearly Shakespearean sense of tragedy (well, at least, Billy "Sonnets" Shakespeare) that surrounds Eddie.
GRADE: A
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By anonymous on December 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
Possibly the best account of real life crime, gangsters, and cut throats ever written...a rare insight into the real world of low level criminals, proving "There is no honor amongst thieves"...having been born, raised, and lived in the neighborhoods depicted in this novel, I can honestly say..."This story is all too real relative to Boston area criminals and their alleged loyaties...this book is a masterpiece...
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Charles Stella on June 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
I first read The Friends of Eddie Coyle 25 years ago and I can still remember the opening lines (Jackie Brown, at twenty-six, with no expression on his face, said that he could get some guns.) It is a shame Higgins is gone. He was the true master of dialogue. This was the book that drove my desire to write crime fiction myself. It is the story of the real-life poor SOBs who are just trying to make it day to day in a world moving way too fast for them. It is real, which is why I believe I enjoyed it so much ... and can still remember the characters so well (not to mention the dialogue). This is a story of how it really goes in the underworld. The Godfather is for the simple minded fantasy seekers; George V. Higgins was the real deal.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ricardo C. on February 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
The Friends of Eddie Coyle centers around Eddie "Fingers" Coyle who is a street-wise, low level, and tired thug who is only 45. He looking at two to three years for bootlegging and that's time he can't spare with children growing up. Eddie is informing the FBI on anything to reduce, or eliminate, his sentence and to make ends meat, he sells guns to the mob and they use them to rob banks. Unlike many films and books, orgnized crime is looked in the least glamorous means. Nothing about a young man "killing his way to the top" or acting as "head of the family". When you at the bottom of the food chain, you make some money and live long enough to spend it if you don't get caught or killed. Eddie and his bartender friend maintain a life simply keeping their head above water when it comes to the law and the criminal underground. Still, the book is not all dreary. The bank robberies depicted in the book are very ingenious. The robbers hold the families of bank managers hostage at their homes while they carefully rob their respective banks. You never know what will happen everytime. Gun Dealer Jackie Brown's exploits also are interesting because he's very careful and very clever even dealing with the toughest customers though he looses to the world-weary Eddie Coyle who knows how scare someone into a deal that'll suit his needs. Author George V. Higgins' style of writing is just enough descriptions of the enviroment and the characters have down to earth, masculine, dialogue. The end of the book is cold and unforgiving and cements it's depiction of the mob as a huge, faceless, machine and the law equally as cold and fighting an unending war.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Naughton on April 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Friends of Eddie Coyle still remains a classic because George V. Higgins knew how to write dialogue. His voice is as fresh today as when this crime novel first hit the shelf back in 1972. It must've been a screenwriter's dream when Paul Monash was asked to adapt this novel for the film which Peter Yates directed. This Henry Holt edition also includes an introduction from Elmore Leonard. Leonard explains how George V. Higgins taught him, as a writer, how to get into scenes without wasting time and how he realized criminals could appear to be ordinary people and have the same concerns as the rest of us.

This book is still a bleak, fascinating read.

I had also been searching for the film for years (it was not available on VHS or DVD) but thanks to Amazon Unbox, I finally got a chance to see this classic with Robert Mitchum. Highly recommend!!!
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