So, there’s this two-time loser Eddie Coyle, see. Eddie Fingers. They call him that on account of the time that he screwed up and some other guys had to break his fingers. Eddie deals guns and he’s facing time in New Hampshire, so he’s talking to the police hoping to get his sentence reduced. His friends wouldn’t like that if they knew.
This was the first novel published by George V. Higgins (no relation). Written in an impressionistic, dialog-heavy style, Higgins clearly knew his lowlifes. He juggles a sizable cast of cops and robbers, playing them off against each other. Higgins is often compared to Elmore Leonard, as Leonard points out in the introduction.
The book was made into a movie with Robert Mitchum, which has yet to be released on DVD. You can sign a petition at TCM urging its release.