Monday, November 28, 2016

Old Paper: "The Friends of Eddie Coyle"

Old Paper: The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins, 1972, 0394473272.

An older copy (sixth printing) that came over from New Berlin public library. This copy looks to have an accession stamp date of 2003. I suppose someone donated this copy.

Charlie Stella wrote how this book was a revelation to him when he was younger. How the characters spoke like the people he knew. The last season - maybe the last episode - of Justified had some direct praise by the main character who said he kept rereading this novel. Well, I don't reread much of anything but did enjoy the book.

One thing I enjoyed about the novel is that these are working guy crooks. The don't make a lot of money. Paying bills and buying children's clothes are daily life, not night clubs and jet planes as they plan to rob a casino.  These crooks are burglars, hijackers, and smugglers. But, violent crime is constantly in the mix with gunrunners and bank robbers.

Eddie Coyle himself is looking at several years in prison up in New Hampshire (Vermont?) after being caught driving a truck full of stolen goods. Eddie starts feeding information to a Massachusetts cop hoping that the cop can sway the prosecutor in NH (VT?) that Coyle deserves a break. With several characters we follow a few days as Coyle struggles to find prime information and the chance occasions put a couple crooks onto Coyle's connection to the police.

It's a novel spent listening to conversations in cars and bars and offices. There is some action as bank managers are abducted and forced to open bank vaults. The final murder is matter of fact. Coyle is suspected of telling the police about a robbery that gets a crook killed. A mob boss really liked the dead guy and wants Coyle punished. As simple as that. Not too much different than Albert Anastasia having Arnold Schuster murdered.

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