cover image The Agent

The Agent

George V. Higgins, George Higgens. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $24 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-15-100357-0

A riveting look at the world of big-time sports provides veteran storyteller Higgins (A Change of Gravity) another opportunity to show off his skills at writing the most addictive dialogue since John O'Hara. Alexander Drouhin is a 62-year-old Boston lawyer at the top of the heap of sports agents. Business brings in millions a year, and Alex--juggling athletes, team owners, general managers and the press--lives a princely life. Alex has two ex-wives, two distant daughters, an almost live-in boyfriend (undiscovered yet by the tabs) and near-insatiable greed. A third of the way into the book--after he neatly extracts a budding NFL star from a possibly messy scandal--Alex is found dead in his palatial country estate. Massachusetts State Police Lieutenant Frank Clay, a recent widower, must unravel the puzzle. Through Higgins's trademark dialogues (or monologues), and without many visual clues, the reader gleans vivid depictions of his prolix characters, with glimpses of the horrors of modern celebrityhood, pro gambling and pro sex in a suburb of Boston. There are plenty of cops-and-lawyers stories and wicked, offhand humor. Drouhin's boyfriend never appears, but if that's a flaw, it's minor. (Is it possible the maestro can't do an antique dealer's voice?) The talk may go on a bit, but it is to be hoped that Higgins never makes a long story short. Author tour. (Jan.)