Coogan's Trade is the basis for the upcoming movie Killing Them Softly, starring Brad Pitt.
Cogan's Trade is the top-notch crime novel rated by the The New Yorker as the "best" from "the Balzac of the Boston underworld". Crackling dialogue, mordant humor, and unremitting tension drive the suspenseful stakes of the game higher in Boston's precarious underworld of small-time mobsters, crooked lawyers, and political gofers as George V. Higgins, the writer who boiled crime fiction harder, tracks Jackie Cogan's career in a gangland version of law and order. For Cogan is an enforcer; and when the Mob's rules get broken, he gets hired to ply his trade: murder.
In the gritty, tough-talking pages of Higgins' 1974 national best-seller, Cogan is called in when a high-stakes card game under the protection of the Mob is heisted. Expertly, with a ruthless businessman's efficiency, a shrewd sense of other people's weaknesses, and a style as cold as his stare, Cogan moves with reliable precision to restore the status quo as ill-conceived capers and double-dealing shenanigans erupt into high-voltage violence.
©1974 George V. Higgins (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
I discovered George V Higgins through the film Killing Them Softly, an adaptation of this excellent book, Cogan's Trade. If you are looking for drama, action, explosions and inspired policing this book is not for you. Higgins' plots unravel slowly, step by step, with few twists or surprises, as they move towards an inevitable conclusion.
His talent is for dialogue, marvellous rambling dialogue that reflects the way people really talk to one another. Sitting in a car waiting to do terrible things, lowlives, hitmen, small-time crooks and gangsters talk about their problems, their lives, their wives and girlfriends, the things which they enjoy and which frustrate or annoy them, the rules which govern their lives and which trap them in the world they occupy.
Their conversations are often hilarious but they are always fascinating. Through them we come to understand something of what makes the characters tick, despite their lives of murder, crime or, sometimes, law enforcement. Higgins developed his authentic insights into this world through his work as a lawyer and from listening to hours of wire taps and other material.
aIt's a world where crimes are committed by real and believable people for money, for revenge, or because that is what they do, refreshingly free of unrealistic feats of action or happy endings. and best of all, his output was larger and varied, so there's enough for many months of listening.
"Talk is cheap, life is cheaper still"
Yes - I'm a crime fan from way back and George V. Higgins is a master storyteller - especially in capturing authentic, hard-boiled voices that drive his narrative along. Jeff Woodman is a skilled reader and I think it's a good combination.
Well - it's a stylistic thing. I enjoyed the amount of talking that goes on in this book without any direct relationship to the basic storyline. But I realise I'm probably among the minority and there will be some people who find George V. Higgins spends too much time letting his characters talk - and not enough pushing along a story.
Yes- and he uses pause to good effect - not something every reader can do.
Apparently Brad Pitt is doing a version this year - under the title
There's plenty of coarse language and violence in this story. If you're squeamish - I'd recommend something less sanguine. But if you're a fan of Elmore Leonard, Andrew Vacchs or Eugene Izzi or maybe like movies by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino or even TV shows like The Sopranos - then I think you'd enjoy this.
I like how 99.9 percent of the book is just conversation. Very little action. It makes it more realistic for me. You hear about things. There's all this planning. This build up. Then it explodes. Excellent. It felt like you were sitting right there talking to the guys.
Also I am shocked Tarantino didn't direct the film or anything else written by Higgins.
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