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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.
Would you try another book from George V. Higgins and/or Jeff Woodman?
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.
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
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.
What about Jeff Woodman’s performance did you like?
Yes- and he uses pause to good effect - not something every reader can do.
Could you see Cogan's Trade being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?
Apparently Brad Pitt is doing a version this year - under the title
Any additional comments?
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.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
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.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful