George Higgins, Author Henry Holt & Company $18.95 (230p) ISBN 978-0-8050-0955-2
This novel is quintessential Higgins ( The Friends of Eddie Coyle ), featuring city-hardened cynics in pursuit of their just desertsstet one s!/rl in a system compromised by unequal access to money and power. Higgins's characters move in a Sophoclean universe: destiny fated, choice illusory, tragedy inevitable. Here, the setting is 1967, Boston; Earl Beale, out of jail (by the grace of a family connection) after a college point-shaving scandal, steps onto Higgins's relentless, moral treadmill. Beale owes somebody a favor; that somebody owes somebody else who now needs something done: they call Beale. Obliged to make payment for his own ``freedom,'' Beale meanwhile pursues his own schemes, namely blackmail of a wealthy man with whom his own girlfriend is sharing sexual favors (he has photos). Unfortunately, Higgins's vaunted ear for dialogue betrays him here--even the well-to-do talk like gangsters--and his strain for authenticity of speech makes the characters seem straining too, and absent of charm. The plot, complicated yet thin, will disappoint Higgins devotees. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1989
Release date: 11/01/1989
Genre: Fiction
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