I’m a belatedly a friend of The Friends of Eddie Coyle


I came to this party late. The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a crime novel written by George V. Higgins and published in 1970. I didn’t read it then. It was on a tertiary reading list in my college American Literature class, I didn’t read it then. Two of my favorite crime authors, Elmore Leonard and Dennis Lehane count it as a masterpiece and a major influence on their work, I still didn’t read it. Not until until I heard chef/author/TV personality Anthony Bourdain say that he has been obsessed with this book for years did I finally give in to its power.

The power of this short, tight, taunt, tough novel is the narrative movement. It is moved by dialogue. I would guess that 85% of the book is pure dialogue. Beautifully written words unique to a tough Boston and unique to each individual character. I cannot remember any novel where the flow of the story and the places it goes are all captained by speaking.

The story is a standard crime drama, cops and robbers blurred by the lines they cross, heists, murder and betrayal. But it’s not the story that matters, what matters is how it is told.

If you are interested in the art of writing, if you are enthralled by words and how they create voice, if you are thrilled to read a master at work, I cannot recommend The Friends of Eddie Coyle high enough. I know that I will visit them many more times, they are that important.

One thought on “I’m a belatedly a friend of The Friends of Eddie Coyle”

  1. I love Higgins. He passed too young and left us too few books. Cogan’s Trade is my favorite. The Boston accents and attitudes really make the novel a treasure. I had high hopes when they made a movie from the novel a couple years ago with Brad Pitt & James Gandolfini. They renamed it Killing Them Softly. Unfortunately it sucked other than some good performances. The major mistake they made was to change the location from Boston to New Orleans. There went the charm, accents, and everything that made Higgins’ novel great. If your interested I have the hardcover edition from 1974 your welcome to borrow.

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