Re: RARA-AVIS: Higgins bio/appreciation

Bob Toomey (
Fri, 12 Nov 1999 01:06:33 -0500

> With its dialogue forged from the speech of the small-town gangsters of
> Massachusetts, Eddie Coyle and its successors set the pattern for such
> crime writers as Elmore Leonard, aiming to hold the reader's attention
> not so much with plot and incident as through the interest inherent in
> the workings of the criminal mind.

In fact, when _The Armchair Detective_ asked Elmore Leonard to make a list of his favorite mystery writers, this was his reply:

"My all-time favorite, the one book that has made a lasting impression, is
_The Friends of Eddie Coyle_ by George V. Higgins. That would be my list."

Starting, I think, with _La Brava_, you can see how Leonard has increasingly appropriated Higgins' approach -- telling the story in highly colloquial dialogue, keeping description to a minimum. Higgins protested when he was described as a crime novelist, but that's what he was, at least some of the time. And although he rarely gets mentioned as a major influence on modern crime writing, he's probably right up there with Hammett and Chandler in importance.


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