The Friends of Eddie Coyle - George V. HigginsRecently I got my hands on the movie "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" by Peter Yates and with Robert Mitchum as the leading star. I've been a long time Mitchum's fan. I can honestly say I've watched all his movies (memorable late afternoons and nights at the Portuguese Cinemateca in Lisbon a long time ago...). 

Along with "The Night of The Hunter" and "The Lusty Man" (one of Nick Ray's masterpieces), it's still Mitchum's best film, as far I'm concerned. I hadn't seen the movie for more than 20 years. Watching it again reminded me why I loved this period of filmmaking. Damn, but they could shoot wonderful noir movies back in the day... Noir has always been of my passions, whether in literary terms or in movie form.

After watching the movie I felt I had to read the novel on which it was based, ie, George V. Higgins' book of the same name. I was completely astonished by Higgin's mastery of the form. It's all there. One of the problems of reading a novel after watching the movie on which it was based is that in the back of your mind the characters are personified by flesh and bone actors. Most of the time this is not a good thing... Robert Mitchum was the only actor in the world that could have portrayed Eddie Coyle in its absolute calmness. He elevated this style of non-acting to an art form.

The book doesn't have anything flashy, just pure tension, conveyed through the magnificent dialog. Higgins tells the story of Eddie and his friends through vintage dialogue, and he tells it swiftly and well. Characterization is at a minimum. I never thought that a book without a high density of characterization was even remotely possible, let alone that it could be a successful work of fiction. This novels proves it. It's possible...

The book is spare and it’s as cold as concrete. Through the observational style, we forget that, inevitably, the world in which these characters operate is chaotic. Everything seems so reasonable and certain, every word and action measured.

The quintessential noir book.

PS. "Doctor Copernicus", "Gun Machine" and now "The Friends of Eddie Coyle". My first three book of 2013, and all of them top-notch! I hope it's not all crap from here on out...lol