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The Friends of Eddie Coyle

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  5,013 Ratings  ·  495 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
Paperback, 216 pages
Published January 25th 2001 by Robinson (first published 1970)
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Dan Schwent
Dec 25, 2013 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it
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
James Thane
Mar 23, 2010 James Thane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-fiction
The strength of this brilliant crime novel lies in the dialog, which constitutes about eighty percent of the book. George V. Higgins had an excellent ear and captures perfectly the voices of all of the characters who populate the book. I really have no idea what a group of typical run-of-the-mill criminals would actually sound like, but this is about the most realistic sounding group of crooks--and cops--that I've ever encountered in a novel.

At the center of the book is a small-time Boston crimi
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
Megan Baxter
Aug 31, 2012 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it
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
"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 really liked it
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'
Jun 09, 2017 Manju rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a difficult read for me from page one as I was unable to pick a "friend" to root for. Whenever I read a book I pick a character which I like and over the course of the book I love and hate this character by what he/she does. And sometimes I switched sides too by dumping this one for someone more smart/good. It was so hard to pick a bad guy to hate let alone someone good to love in this book.

Eddie Coyle is facing jail time and to save himself he give little (not full) information to pol
Jason Coleman
Apr 05, 2014 Jason Coleman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: greatest-hits
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
Apr 06, 2017 Joe rated it it was amazing
The textbook.
Jan 12, 2008 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 06, 2017 Lauren rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
Lean and mean, The Friends of Eddie Coyle is what you get when you take all the glamour out of the crime world and are left with a bunch of guys just trying to make their rent and buy color TVs, guys getting into arguments with their girlfriends, guys trying to stay out of prison. No one trusts anyone else, but that still doesn't meant they're distrusting the right people. It's a grimy, defeatist, working class and middle-management kind of world; structurally tragic, but with the catharsis surg ...more
Robert Hobkirk
Oct 28, 2015 Robert Hobkirk rated it it was amazing
George V. Higgins published The Friends of Eddie Coyle in 1970 after writing 14 novels over 17 years, which never made it off the slush pile. They say with enough talent and enough effort a writer will finally make it, but how many great novels written by talented writers who worked hard never saw a printing press. Talent plus work is no guarantee that a writer will succeed;it happens just some times, not all the time. You never hear about the ones who don't make it.I don't know how it happened ...more
Well, I've read this before and liked it, but re-reading it now after having also re-read a bunch of other crime/noir books published before and after this one, it seems overrated, certainly not one of the "four or five best crime novels ever written." Lehane, in is introduction to the 40th anniversary edition raves about the dialog, which is 80 percent of the book. Leaving aside the quantity of it and how that works narratively, I'd say it's great dialog if you like reading wiretap transcripts, ...more
Mar 01, 2016 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gritty, realistic crime novel that shows there is no honor among thieves. It has great dialogue that makes you feel like you're eavesdropping on real people. This book was made into the 1973 film of the same name, starring Robert Mitchum. Worth reading.
Jan 02, 2014 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, audiobook

Please Note: This review is purely reflective of my enjoyment of the audiobook and not that of the overall story. I feel bad for the low rating but I hated listening to this so felt it was the only appropriate rating I could give it.

If this was the first ever audiobook I’d listened to then I could quite comfortably say that it would put me off the idea of listening to books instead of reading them. The narrator was woeful, I can’t imagine how the producers of this were comfortable with dist
Thomas Todd
Excellent book containing 95% dialog. Mob, guns and MOPARS. I think that was one of my favorite things in this book visualizing that $4000 Road Runner hauling machine guns and grocery sacks full of sizzling hot pistols in her trunk. Should have been read in one setting as it is a short book that moves along at a real good pace but a guy has to sleep & work sometimes.
Dec 28, 2012 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Published in 1970, The Friends of Eddie Coyle took the crime novel to a sad, unglamorous place. During the course of its story, a weary old gunrunner departs the scene and a young pup making the same mistakes neatly takes his place in the unbroken continuance of the criminal order.

George V. Higgins' Boston in the late '60s crawls with repeat offenders on various levels of a hierarchical termite-ridden totem pole: people who've served time for offending, people who are going "legit" but still hav
Jeremy S.
Apr 19, 2011 Jeremy S. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 21, 2011 Johnny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 08, 2013 James rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, crime
A classic crime novel about a small time hood, Eddie Coyle, who is doing all he can to avoid jail time. The intricate web Eddie weaves is captured by the author almost purely through dialogue between the various characters. The effect is of being a fly on the wall to all sorts of exciting nefarious deeds. Highly recommend if you enjoy a good crime novel.
Nov 16, 2011 Eric rated it liked it
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
Dec 30, 2016 Ran rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Small-time hustler Eddie Fingers Coyle does not want to serve time in prison for a crime committed in New Hampshire (trucking illegal liquor for the mob). And he's willing to rat on whatever other low-life crooks he can find to get out of jail time. However, there's plenty of chess-piece movements in Massachusetts that he isn't aware of - and that ultimately leads him into trouble.

Dialogue is the strength of this particular book; in fact, Higgins managed to move the plot forward almost entirely
Benoit Lelièvre
Feb 16, 2013 Benoit Lelièvre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 19, 2013 Joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Excellent crime novel. Follows Elmore Leonard's rule of writing, which is to say, "Write it, read it, and then cross out all the parts you didn't feel like reading." (OK, that's not the exact quote, but I don't feel like looking it up.)
So what you're left with when you do that--in most cases--is the dialogue.
"Who doesn't love reading dialogue?" I asked.
"Nobody," Everyone replied.
If anything, Higgins uses this rule too much, and I actually found myself wanting to hear some prose about what c
May 09, 2015 Drew rated it really liked it
Supposedly the best crime novel of all time, also prominently featured in the series finale of Justified. I can't weigh in on its true greatness, and it hasn't really sunk in fully for me. But I will say that Higgins captures the rhythms of American small time thug speech as accurately as Leonard ever has, and he knows how to create an interesting plot. No frills, no pyrotechnics, not even any philosophical musings until the very last couple of paragraphs--just how I like my fiction these days.
Apr 29, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 29, 2017 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Anthony Bourdain
Recommended by Anthony Bourdain-this seems like his kinda book. It's a crime novel written in 1970. The intro, by Dennis Lehane, made me think I'd love this book and its artful dialog to which all crime writers aspire. It took me half the book to get into it and understand the dialog. I guess police and criminals may talk like this but their terms were foreign to me. In the end, it was likable and I'm glad to have read it.
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."
Rex Fuller
May 17, 2013 Rex Fuller rated it it was amazing
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.
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Classic Trash: Friends of Eddie Coyle: Finished (Spoilers) 10 6 Mar 14, 2016 06:24PM  
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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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“This life’s hard, but it’s harder if you’re stupid.” 10740 likes
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