John Hood's Reviews > The Friends of Eddie Coyle

The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins
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Jun 13, 2010

it was amazing
Read in June, 2010

Bound: SunPost Weekly June 3, 2010
http://bit.ly/8Y8g5x
When Badass Books Become Kickass Flicks

The Friends of Eddie Coyle
(Picador $14)
To watch Robert Mitchum in this seminal ‘70s flick is to see defeat personified. Mitch plays Eddie “Fingers” Coyle, so nick-named because he’s got an extra set of knuckles on his right fist, the result of it being placed in a desk drawer and broken by some men whose pal got popped with a bad gun he’d sold him. Fingers is down and out and he knows it. Nevertheless he’s bound by his own broken soul to make the moves; moves he knows full well will lead to his undoing.

It’s a terrific, harrowing and unnerving performance. And it’s all made possible by a book that was so badass it literally changed the game. That’s what Dennis Lehane says in his Introduction to the re-issue anyway. And Lehane should know, because The Friends of Eddie Coyle covers the very same Boston underworld that he’s been immersed in throughout his entire career.

George V. Higgins wrote this story. And Lehane is not the only pulpist to sing his or its praises. In fact, Elmore Leonard’s got his own Introduction to this 1970 masterstroke. And everybody from Norman Mailer to Scott Turow has chimed in likewise.

Why? Because the novel is almost entirely composed of dead-on dialogue, that’s why. Not just talk, mind you, but fast talk, riddled with slang and innuendo, and steeped in the violence of the streets. It’s also two-faced and desperate, hard-nosed and unforgiving. In fact, just like Fingers’ life.
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