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

4.0 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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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.
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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 (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,908,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a journalistic account of the true story of Joey Coyle, an out-of-work and drug-addicted 28 year old man, who finds $1.2 million which had fallen from an armored truck. It's a riveting drama which at turns takes twists into humor and suspense but ends, unfortunately, as a tragedy. Coyle is portrayed as an amiable man who essentially blows through much of the money in two weeks, simply by giving it away to homeless, using it on drugs, "forgetting" where he put it, and sharing it with shady businessmen and friends who find out about his fortune and begin to confront him for a piece of the loot. Add to all this, Joey increasingly uses methamphetamine (speed) which causes him paranoid delusions and crippling anxiety. Finders Keepers is sharp and well-written; a fascinating tale of an ordinary man faced with a moral dilemma, and the ensuing reactions of family, friends, neighbors, and police who become a part of his misadventures.

Five out of Five stars
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an extremely fast read. I probably read this book in around two hours (spread over a few days). It is an engaging non-fiction story that reads like a novel. It is a well-organized and straightforward account of a true story.

A lot of other reviewers have complained about the main character, Joey Coyle, who finds 1.2 million dollars lying on the street, because he behaves like a real idiot. I will grant that he is probably the worst possible person to have encountered a giant pile of cash in the street. A drug addict with extremely poor decision-making skills, he bumbled around South Philly and made a series of decisions so stupid as to be almost comical. So in that regard, it is frustrating, and I found myself thinking, "Well, if *I* had found that money..." etc. All that being said, I still think the book is very enjoyable, and the author does an excellent job setting us up for Joey Coyle's ridiculous decisions. Additionally, I found myself feeling sorry for him because of his crippling addiction. The author is honest, albeit slightly sympathetic, in his portrayal of Coyle.

I definitely recommend this book. Just be forewarned that you will spend the whole book wishing you had been the person to find that $1.2 million.
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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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