RARA-AVIS: George V Higgins Obit

From: Paul Duncan ( paul.duncan@asml.nl)
Date: 10 Jan 2000

Someone asked about the death of George V Higgins. Here's an obituary I found:

MILTON, Mass. (AP) - George V. Higgins, the prosecutor-turned-novelist who put Boston organized crime figures in both prison and fiction, including his best seller ``The Friends of Eddie Coyle,'' has died at the age of 59.

Higgins was found Saturday at his home, and apparently died of natural causes, police Sgt. Jack Richman said Sunday.

Higgins published about 25 books. And ``Eddie Coyle,'' which was published in 1972, was made into a movie directed by Peter Yates and starring Robert Mitchum and Peter Boyle.

His fictional characters were inspired by the underworld figures he rubbed elbows with while prosecuting organized crime cases, and he was praised for using authentic Boston speech and settings in ``Eddie Coyle,'' which told the story of a small-time mobster.

Higgins started out in journalism, working as a reporter for the Providence Journal and for The Associated Press in western Massachusetts, before attending law school.

He took a job as a legal assistant at the Massachusetts attorney general's office in 1967 and quickly worked his way up to assistant attorney general. He became an assistant U.S. attorney in 1970.

By 1970, he had written as many as 14 novels, all of them unpublished, said a friend, Boston University professor Jon Klarfeld.

Father Francis W. Sweeney, Higgins' former literature professor at Boston College, said he urged the aspiring writer to keep at it.

``I said, 'George, don't give up. You have it, and there will be a time when we hold your first book in our hands,'' Sweeney said.

In 1972, ``Eddie Coyle'' was an instant best seller.

Higgins also won recognition for several subsequent books, including ``The Digger's Game,'' ``Cogan's Trade,'' and ``A City on a Hill.''

In addition to penning about a book a year, he wrote columns for The Boston Herald American, The Boston Globe, and The Wall Street Journal from 1977 to 1985.

Later works fell short of those early successes. His last novel, ``The Agent,'' was published this year.

He is survived by his wife, Loretta, and a son and a daughter.

AP-NY-11-07-99 1304EST Tom Goodell --- Bozeman, Montana

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