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Monday, April 15, 2013

"Cogan's Trade", the rules of crime

Cogan's Trade- George V. Higgins

We can call it an exception to the rule, or just the fact that I watched the movie first so there was zero surprise effect, but for once, I enjoyed more watching this book adaptation's, "Killing Them Softly" than the read itself. 

Which is not say that "Cogan's Trade" is a bad book, by no means. It's a very precise artifact, a straightforward tour-de-force tale of the mob, and an amazing proof of author's George V. Higgins writing skills. To put it simply, he's a master of dialogues, and his ability to describe scenes with a mind-blowing economy of words is hard to match. A couple of times I was thinking I was reading a script, not a novel. Incredible precision

Ok, I admit not a fan of the noir genre, but in my opinion, aside of Higgins' talents, neither the story or its development has any element of surprise. I wouldn't say the characters are really deep or built far more beyond the archetypal (exceptions might be Frankie and Mitch, but I can't see why Cogan's is supposedly such a remarkable character). Maybe is because mafia/crime stories have been so recurrent/exploited in cinema, so it's hard to get shocked by something written in 1974 nowadays, in terms of being original. 

That's what makes me consider Andrew Dominik's screen adaptation much more challenging. Yes, I agree (as reviewed recently) that "Killing Them Softly" somehow fails in its attempt to mix criminality and capitalism, settling the context of the story on our current world crisis, including some intriguing (visual and verbal) references to the American politicians that are supposedly here to save us from the crisis. 

Book or film? This time I would encourage you to watch the film if you have to choose just one. But if you are willing to read, for sure I would recommend you to read the book first. Otherwise the book will pass unnoticed, which is a bit unfair.

SCORE: 6/10

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