March 02, 1981 12:00 PM

by George V. Higgins

Now maybe in Boston—which is the place Higgins wrote about in The Friends of Eddie Coyle and The Digger’s Game and Kennedy for the Defense and is writing about again here—they have some guys who talk in convoluted and witty ways. That is, they talk as if Damon Runyon wrote their dialogue on a good day when his head was clear and maybe Jimmy Breslin edited it. But the guys in this novel—some torches about to light up a slum building so the owner can collect his insurance and some cops trying to catch the torches—these guys all talk like that. And while they sometimes overlook their prepositions and say “I had to give that money the bank this morning” or repeat themselves, which they do repeatedly, in the end you’ve got to hand it to him. Higgins is smooth, funny and streetwise and tries to write crime novels that are entertaining but nonfrivolous, which he does. (Knopf, $10.95)

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