Monday, 17 February 2014

The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins

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.

As one might expect from a novel about the criminal underworld, no one can be trusted, not the people you don't trust, and certainly not the people you do. Everyone is out for themselves, and Eddie Coyle is smack in the middle of it.

Eddie Coyle has been convicted of a liquor heist, but not sentenced, so to reduce his sentence, he'd like to turn informer on something, but not on other things - like who set up the liquor heist. While keeping his Mob associates happy and safe, he doesn't mind telling the cop he's in contact with about the other doings of a gunrunner he knows.

The cop, however, both wants more out of him than he's willing to give, and has another informant, whom nobody suspects. (This informant is likewise very careful about what info he passes on and what he keeps to himself.) And in the end, someone unrelated to either ends up blowing a series of jobs. But guess who gets the blame? Go on, guess!

This book centers on people who may have personal ethical codes, but are flexible in the way that they apply them. The dangers of getting involved in any way are very clear - and yet people do. And although they think they may know who ratted them out, they probably don't.

Higgins has created a fascinating little world that is sordid, swift, and occasionally brutal. And oddly witty, at times.

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