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.
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.