Michael Patrick Brady

Books

The Friends of Eddie Coyle | George V. Higgins

May 4, 2010

Coyle

My review of The Friends of Eddie Coyle ran today at PopMatters.

As a guy who tends to love elaborate sentences and the aimless meandering of literary fiction, the plot-heavy minimalism of crime and genre fiction can be a little irritating at times. The Friends of Eddie Coyle is incredibly spartan, driven almost entirely by dialogue, but with a tough verisimilitude that has earned it a reputation as the definitive Boston crime novel since its publication 40 years ago. And it’s definitely good, but Higgins is determined to dispel the glamorous aura and sensationalism that often shrouds crime in fiction and does so with extreme force and efficacy. The criminals, cops, and everyone in between come off like dreadful dead-enders, struggling to survive in a system that helps no one and solves nothing. It’s a short book, and very focused, never wandering into tangents or losing sight of its goal. Very compelling, occasionally frustrating, and definitely disheartening, The Friends of Eddie Coyle makes no effort to make readers feel comfortable or uplifted. It doesn’t show the criminal underworld as full of adventure and intrigue, but rather as it truly is, the last refuge of the disturbed and damaged.

Buy The Friends of Eddie Coyle at Amazon.com

Rating: | Michael Patrick Brady

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1 Comment


  • 1. Conn  |  August 3rd, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I would imagine that you would love Dennis Lehane’s work then, as he combines a world-weary cynicism with determined idealism, and has a glorious gift for language and imagery.

    Haven’t read EDDIE COYLE yet, but I’ll have to do so. I’ve noticed that Irish and Irish-American crime stories (even if told by Scorsese) are utterly lacking in romanticism, and thus show clearly the emptiness of the life. A really good example (up until the ridiculous Peckinpah shoot-out) is the film, STATE OF GRACE, starring Sean Penn and Gary Oldman. It’s based on the Westies, an Irish mob based in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen in the mid-to-late 20th Century.