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The Friends of Eddie Coyle

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  3,372 ratings  ·  348 reviews
Eddie Coyle works for Jimmy Scalisi, supplying him with guns for a couple of bank jobs. But a cop named Foley is on to Eddie and he's leaning on him to finger Scalisi, a gang leader with a lot to hide. And then there's Dillon-a full-time bartender and part-time contract killer--pretending to be Eddie's friend. Wheeling, dealing, chasing, and stealing--that's Eddie, and he' ...more
Published (first published 1970)
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New School of Noir
17th out of 151 books — 136 voters
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30th out of 100 books — 32 voters

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Community Reviews

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Dan 1.0
Gun runner Eddie Coyle is facing jail time for some hijacked booze. While trying to procure some guns for a friend of his for a string of bank robberies, Coyle decides to drop a dime on the man he's buying from. But will that be enough? And what will happen to Eddie once people hear he's a fink?

Elmore Leonard called this the best crime novel ever written. Dennis Lehane called it a game changer. Raylan Givens even mentioned it on an episode of Justified. I figured I should give it a read.

The Frie
With friends like these, you certainly wouldn’t need any enemies…

Eddie Coyle is a low-level Boston mobster facing serious prison time after getting arrested for driving a truck of hijacked liquor. While awaiting his sentencing, Eddie tries to buy guns to supply to some buddies who have been robbing banks, but he’s also angling to rat out his gun dealer to the cops in order to get out of going to jail.

I’ve been hearing about this book for quite a while, and I was worried that it couldn’t live up
"The best crime novel ever written." - Elmore Leonard

"What I can't get over is that so good a first novel was written by the fuzz." - Norman Mailer

George Higgins was an assistant U.S. Attorney for Massachusets when he set out to document the new reality of hardboiled criminal life in and around Boston with the story of Eddie Coyle. Told mostly in conversation the plot loosely revolves around petty criminal Eddie Coyle facing a sentencing trial and working to maneuver himself out of it with the a
Apr 23, 2012 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: I hate it when my friends become successful
Recommended to Mariel by: when's the remake coming out? I'm so cynical!
"This life's hard, but it's harder if you're stupid."

Don't trust cops. Don't trust crooked cops especially. In his defense Serpico wasn't released yet. Maybe he didn't know any better? Don't be a sap, Mariel! There's no excuse. Eddie Coyle, known to frenemies as Eddie Fingers, is too fucking stupid to walk the streets a free man. George V. Higgins's The Friends of Eddie Coyle is watching someone get stabbed in the back that should never have been turned in the first place by all of the low life'
Decades after seeing Peter Yates's extraordinary film version of George V. Higgins's novel THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE, I finally got around to reading the book, which has a reputation for greatness commensurate with the film's. I love the film deeply. Now I love the book the same way. Higgins, whose first published novel this was, has, as almost every critic has noted, a preternatural gift for startlingly real dialog. Much of the book is written in dialog. None of it is precious or self-consciou ...more
"What I'll do is call Dillon as soon as I know where I'm going to be and tell him I told my wife I was going to be there, and have him tell her if she calls that I went out but I'm coming back and he'll have me call her. Then for him to call me and tell me she called. I'll leave a number. I'll do that before nine. You call Dillon and tell him you called me at home and my wife said I was at Dillon's, and he won't think anything, he'll give you the number and you can call me up and we'll meet som
Jason Coleman
Sometime near the end of the previous century, when I was applying to MFA programs, one of the schools required samples in various disciplines, not just prose fiction, so I cranked out a neo-noir script that their film prof ended up getting mildly excited about, although he couldn't help adding it owed something to Tarantino. He must have been referring to my two assassins who discussed things like poetry and history in between whacking people, but I hadn't meant to ape Pulp Fiction at all. I th ...more
Looking at this website, or my reviews on, you’d be correct in thinking The Friends of Eddie Coyle isn’t something I’d normally read. In fact my wife is to blame responsible.

She grew up in South Boston, so we were curious about an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s (@noreseravations) Travel Channel show “No Reservations” that took place in Boston. The episode focused on the tougher, rougher side of Boston, and Bourdain talked about his obsession: The Friends of Eddie Coyle. My wife, bei
Jeremy S.
Writer, eater, traveler, Antony Bourdain has called this the single greatest crime novel written in the English language. That is quite a statement and after reading this, I can definitely see why he would say that.

While I'm not 100% sure I would anoint it the greatest of all time, it is certainly in the running. When you read the book, you immediately think of all the classic gangster movies from the past 30+ years. The sharp suits, the gold chains, jump suits, cars and of course guns. This bo
Benoit Lelievre
This is considered a crime classic and rightfully so. To a certain extent, this is part of the contemporary literature canon also. I wouldn't be ashamed at all to discuss THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE at a literature convention for it shows many aspects worth talking about and it's a novel as endearing in its strengths as it is in its flaws.

While I can't say this dialogue-heavy approach worked wonders for me, it truly is a testament to how potent you can make your dialogue if you put your shoulder
It's obvious why this is considered such a classic. But it could have easily been overlooked. When an author makes it look this easy, so fluid, and written with so much confidence, it can often be overlooked for its deceptive simplicity. And to top it off, this was Higgins' first novel.

I read the book ten years ago before I started writing novels, so it was interesting to return to it with a writer's eye. I was amazed that the story is told almost entirely through dialogue. Not just a little bit
This was a good one - more like 4.5 stars.

The plot revolves around a series of bank robberies where the bank manager's family is held hostage. Eddie Coyle supplies guns for the gang doing the robberies and is wavering over whether to shop either the gang or other customers of his gun supplier to the cops in order to plea bargain for a case that he is up for sentence on.

The book is unusual in that most of it is very realistic dialogue - that makes it a quick and easy read. There are also a couple
This slender novel, almost a hard-boiled prose poem, is a masterpiece in any genre. It reads like some sort of bastard uncle of Richard Stark and Elmore Leonard. As a New Englander exiled in Manhattan, I wanted to drive up to north of Boston and find some grizzled old guys and pay them to read the book aloud to me. I've not watched the movie: I'm afraid (especially after THE DEPARTED) that they won't get the language or accents right. Higgins sure does. If this book is any indication of his styl ...more
So we have Eddie Coyle, a low level hood who is playing every end against the middle. He is supplying guns to a bank heist crew, he's awaiting trial for a liquor heist and trying to work a deal with a cop Dave Foley. As I watch this story unfold, I'm thinking to myself, how does he think he's gonna get away with fingering these guys? He never seems to have an endgame in mind he just seems to be waiting for the most opportune time to drop the dime. Of course the cop strings him along and well, le ...more
Me ha gustado, sin embargo después de leer las citas y el prólogo no ha llegado a todo lo que esperaba. Pongo alguna de las citas para que os hagáis una idea.

"La mejor novela negra que se haya escrito nunca. Hace que El halcón maltés parezca un juego de niños" Elmore Leonard

"Elmore Leonard aprendió de esta novela, así como David Mamet y por supuesto Quentin Tarantino, quien vio en el hecho de mezclar la violencia con la comedia de costumbres una virtud narrativa" Richard Raynar (Los Angeles Time
Eren Cain
I got this book after seeing an interview with Elmore Leonard where he said that this was the novel that showed him what was possible in the realm of crime fiction. I finished it in a day, and came away completely inspired.

First of all, Lehane's introduction is fantastic - so I def recommend getting it - however, I recently found and posted an amazingly gonzo vintage cover of this book on my tumblr -

Now, while a lot of people talk about telling a story mostly with di
Bro_Pair أعرف
Second-best crime novel ever written? Definitely top five, I would say. Up there with Hammett and the best of Jim Thompson. Not a moment rings false, right up until the inevitable end.

Eddie Coyle has no friends. Family life in this book is a sick joke. The characters are all hunted rats. It is a true book utterly without any redemption goobledeegook. The book reminds me of a Philip Larkin line -

"Something is pushing them
To the side of their own lives."
Megan Baxter
The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a solid crime novel, in which suspicion is normal, and nothing is glamourous. It takes place mostly, but not entirely, in dialogue, which is amazingly well written.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Edgy little novel about a bunch of small time crooks squealing on each other to escape jail sentences. The novel is mostly entertaining dialog and there is very little description of people, places or events. The characters and the plot develops almost entirely through the dialog.

There is a lot of machismo with a couple of the crooks discussing a woman's cunt in her presence. This eventually leads to their downfall. There is praise from Norman Mailer, Dennis Lehane and Elmore Leonard in the fir
George V. Higgins was easily the best crime writer of the 60s and 70s; just as Jim Thompson and Ross MacDonald were tops in the 1950s and Hammett was in the 20s.

Elmore Leonard--himself no slouch--went further, describing Higgins as the best crime writer in America, period.

Today we might regard Andrew Vachss or James Crumley as leading the field in quality. But essentially, George V. Higgins--for any crime author after WWII--this is the author you have to measure up to.

The marvel of Higgins is no
Struggling, frightened, dangerous criminals and detectives.

The most impressive thing about this book is that it is mostly dialogue, and the dialogue creates the setting and characters. It would work wonderfully as a play.

It is definitely the best crime book I've ever read, because not only is it suspenseful and completely believable, it is very funny - if you find the sleazy, sometimes surprising observations of criminals funny.
Rex Fuller
Cannot explain why I never read a Higgins book before. This one is clearly a masterpiece. Not a page-turner but a true "capture." You very quickly fall into it and don't come out until you're finished. Done almost entirely with dialogue, an absolute minimum of action and narrative, this is an original, a first of its kind, in the same sense as On the Road and In Cold Blood.
Geoffrey Feller
This was the first published novel by George V. Higgins, an author known for his Boston-based crime stories told in a particular style. Right from the start then Higgins was using his signature voice to tell the story of a small time gangster, Eddie Coyle, anxious to trade information to avoid serving time in Federal prison. Higgins reveals information about Coyle and his "friends" gradually through extended and realistic dialogue which is read as if overheard. The novel was the basis for an out ...more
What a knock-out book. This is a must, MUST read for anyone into this type of stuff. This has Scorcese written all over it. Not a phony line in the whole thing. This is the real deal, and was a game changer for the genre.
This is an all caps CLASSIC crime novel, made up of the moving parts of a bunch of crime novels that have since been published via piggybacking. It's about the incestuous world of petty hoods and cops and student radicals and black militants and the FBI, told mostly in streetwise coded dialogue between characters that bridge the gaps between all groups mentioned. The main theme here is finking and loyalty and just desert, and the balance of karma that sorts out the justice in these sorts of worl ...more
Kirk Smith
A solid piece of writing, but a little less than I expected. I would definitely disagree with anyone labelling it as the greatest crime novel ever. I would credit it with great editing to get down to just the minimal parts, and already having it in screenplay form to take direct to film.
I read a lot of crime, but this threw me because the important perspectives were not the criminals, but more so the cops or prosecutors. Eddie Coyle is about to do prison time and puts his energies into gatheri
George V. Higgins's 1972 novel The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a classic crime novel often referred to by other crime novelists as one of the greatest of the genre. In fact, it was Higgins's first novel and, despite a long career in writing, his most famous and well-received. Higgins studied English in college and then worked for the Associated Press before heading back to law school and becoming a US attorney. But he never left behind his desire to be a writer, and after as many as ten previous b ...more
Excellent, really outstanding. Consists almost entirely of dialogue. You have to get used to the slang (I imagine in the 70s this would have been near impossible to read for most Dutch readers; I suspect we're a little more used to underworld slang nowadays, partly because of books like this and the films they influenced, probably). And you have to work out who's who and what they are doing. E.g. in one particular scene where two men meet up in the street, it takes a few pages before you work ou ...more
Mariano Hortal
"Los amigos de Eddy Coyle" de George V. Higgins. En esta novela se conjugan todas las virtudes que sirvieron para construir la novela negra más hardboiled. La trama importa, pero no tanto como todo lo que la rodea. Eddy Coyle es un pequeño timador de poca monta que intenta salir de los líos en los que se ha metido y poder vivir con su familia, sus "amigos" son los más variopintos elementos: traficantes de armas, atracadores de bancos, agentes federales que pueden traicionarle en cualquier moment ...more
I read this because I heard somewhere that it was the best crime novel ever, and it was really good, but I don't really know what "the best ever" even means. It was compelling, the characters seemed very true to life, it would be especially entertaining for Bostonians because the whole thing takes place in eastern Mass/Rhode Island, so the locations are familiar. And the dialogue was fantastic. Just perfect. I have been particularly interested in this lately...why is dialogue so often an author' ...more
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George Vincent Higgins was a United States author, lawyer, newspaper columnist, and college professor. He is best known for his bestselling crime novels.
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