GEORGE V. HIGGINS – Bomber’s Law. Henry Holt, hardcover, 1993; trade paperback, 1994.

   If you’ve read George Higgins before, you know what to expect. If you haven’t, expect dialogue. Lots of it. 95% of the book. Critics love it and lavish all sorts of superlatives on it, finding his feel for the speech pattern of the denizens of working/lower/criminal class Massachusetts the best ever. Most of them have, anyway.

   A state cop has returned from banishment in the hinterlands to take over a long-running surveillance of a bigtime organized crime boss. He’s taking over from an old cop who had made his life miserable as a rookie. He’s got his own problems, career- and marriage-wise. How it all works out is the story.

   The problem with using dialogue almost exclusively to define characters an narrate a story is that it’s awfully hard to follow the storyline without reading word for me laborious word. If you like Higgins’ style enough you my not mind, but I did. A lot.

   I kept wanting to skip ahead and see what was going to happen; but I was afraid to, because there was no way to tell when the next paragraph would contain something crucial to the story. I think that Higgins’ writing has become self-indulgent and almost a caricature of itself; but if you’ve liked him in the past, try it and see what you think.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #12, March 1994.