Friday, October 12, 2012

The Friends of Eddie Coyle, by George V. Higgins

(hb; 1970, 1971)

From the inside flap:

"Eddie Coyle and the 'friends' of Eddie Coyle - the people he can trade in for his own safety and who can kill him for theirs - are hoods.  If the 'wise guys' - the syndicate wheels who occasionally surface in Eddie's world to give an order or punish a mistake - are the underworld equivalents of tycoons and executives, then stocky, henpecked, worried Eddie Coyle is the working stiff of crime.  He is fearful of being sent up for a second time (for hijacking a truck); he is trying to better himself by providing guns for a Boston-area gang whose bank robbery technique is proof against almost every contingency - if nobody talks.

"This is how an old hand, Eddie, goes about his business; how a young punk, Jackie Brown, gets his education in being a stand-up guy; how Dillon, bartender and occasional contract killer who knows everything, keeps the boys in line.  This is how the hoods - the gunmen, armorers, drivers, heisters and executioners - see themselves.  This is how they deal with each other and talk to each other in the authentic, elaborately oblique language born of the paradox of the underworld. . ."


Full of snappy, tough-guy dialogue and blunt, sudden action, Friends is a good, entertaining crime read, with its colorful characters and few-frills writing.

Worth checking out, this.


The resulting film was released stateside on June 27, 1973.

Robert Mitchum played Eddie Coyle.  Peter Boyle played Dillon.  Richard Jordan played Dave Foley.  Steven Keats played Jackie Brown.  Joe Santos played Artie Van.   Alex Rocco played Jimmy Scalise.  Mitch Ryan, billed as Mitchell Ryan, played Waters.  James Tolkan played "The Man's contact man".

Peter Yates directed the film, from a screenplay by Paul Monash.

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