Friday, November 02, 2012

Cogan's Trade, by George V. Higgins

(hb; 1974: republished as Killing Them Softly)

From the inside flap:

"Jackie Cogan's trade is central to [the underworld].  He is an enforcer.  He can be depended upon to 'handle' a problem before it gets out of control.  And when a high-stakes card game under the protection of the New England mob is heisted by unknown hoodlums, Cogan is called in.  Expert, businesslike, a shrewd detector of other people's weaknesses, he moves in ruthless and efficient ways among a variety of hoods, hangers-on, and big-timers: a compulsive gambler with a dangerous bad-luck streak, a thug who steals dogs, a once successful out-of-town hitman, a cunning lawyer representing the regional don, and a young punk whose 'professional' career as at a crossroads.  Until, finally, in an almost empty parking lot, with five consecutive shots from a Smith and Wesson thirty-eight Police Special, the situation is handled, and 'law and order' is restored."


Overly chatty crime novel with interesting characters, noir-veracious mood and genre-inevitable murders.

Cogan's Trade (or Killing Them Softly, its new title) is an okay read by a talented writer who  revels in giving his characters plenty of milieu-centric "voice(s)".  If  this novel were edited down to its plot-core dialogue and storyline, this would be an excellent novella.


The resulting movie, Killing Them Softly, is scheduled for stateside theatrical release on November 30, 2012.

Brad Pitt played Jackie Cogan.  Scoot McNairy played Frankie.  Ben Mendelsohn played Russell.  James Gandolfini played Mickey.  Vincent Curatola played Johnny Amato.  Richard Jenkins played "Driver".   Ray Liotta played Markie Trattman. 

Trevor Long played Steve Caprio.  Max Casella played Barry Caprio.  Sam Shepard played Dillon.  Slaine played Kenny.

Andrew Dominik scripted and directed the film.

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