"I swore when I got out I was gonna make every minute count, the rest of my life. ... And am I doing it? No. Of course I’m not. I’m just as big an asshole now as I was before.”That's one character, Amato. But assholes run through the novel like the motto theme through a Romantic symphony:
"`Some time, I hope,' Russell said, “you got over being an asshole.”And that sort of self-doubt and introspection, though expressed in earthy terms, is what readers must mean when they praise Higgins for making even violent lowlife characters human.
“`I’m not sure,' Frankie said."
Here's a quick rundown of Higgins' novels that may prove useful to readers unfamiliar with his work beyond The Friends of Eddie Coyle.
Carofiglio's protagonist, Guido Guerrieri, is called on to defend a young man who tries to kill himself by turning on a gas oven in a sealed room, is rescued by carabinieri (Italy's military/civil police), and unexpectedly finds himself in legal trouble:
"They found the young man unconscious on the floor but, miraculously, still in and of this world. In other words, they saved his life. But, after checking with the magistrate on duty at the time, they also arrested him. On charges of mass murder."The gentle dissection of the absurdity of the Italian law in question that follows is, in its mix of bemusement, matter-of-fact analysis, and quiet crusading, typical of the Guerrieri books. I once asked if Guerrieri might be the world's sanest crime fiction protagonist. That was just another way of saying he might be the most likable and endearingly human.
© Peter Rozovsky 2012