cover image Wonderful Years, Wonderful Years

Wonderful Years, Wonderful Years

George V. Higgins / Author Henry Holt & Company $0 (261p) ISBN

The pleasures of this smart, tightly constructed novelHiggins's 18th book in as many yearsreside in its author's familiar gift for pungent dialogue and dead-on characterization. Once again, it is set in a version of Boston in which each character lives by a different code of honor, and some live by none. Gene Arbuckle's Navy career ended in the brig; now he is chauffeur to Ken Farley, a wealthy contractor who may soon be targeted for Federal indictment. When a case of justified assault lands him back in legal trouble, Arbuckle faces a brutal choice: he can go to jail, or trade information on Farley for his own freedom. Complicating matters is Farley's wife Nell, a paranoid schizophrenic whose wild accusations against her husband may not seem at all crazy to ambitious prosecutors. Unfolding in a series of long, anecdotal conversations, the novel initially seems like a series of detours, but the various plot lines merge with a narrative mastery in the final chapters. While not as suspenseful as some of his earlier work, Wonderful Years shows Higgins at the top of his form as a stylist. BOMC selection. (October)