The Digger, a Boston Irish bar owner, takes a curious package trip to Las Vegas at the invitation of the Regent's Sportsman's Club Inc. He wakes up with a savage hangover and a large debt to a person or persons unknown - which is worrying. He discovers he is in debt to the Greek - which is terrifying.
The Greek's interest rates are brutal and his debt-recovery techniques uncomfortably old-fashioned.
A fast, violent novel, The Digger's Game adds another chapter to George V. Higgins' unfolding portrait of modern America which began with The Friends of Eddie Coyle.
'(Higgins) has been blessed with an unerring ear - his style is bouncy, rich in nuance and humour, and his dialogue is informed by intelligence and wit . . . There is never a Higgins scene that isn't seamlessly fashioned or a character who rings false.'
Mordecai Richler, GQ Magazine
I do like 70s US crime fiction. There's something about it that just cries out to me ..... READ ME! I think I often get too caught up trying to keep on top of all the latest hot offerings and ignore the nagging inner voice, which is my own fault. (Note to self .... read more older books!)
70s Boston, Vegas, gambling, debt, deadlines, interest rates, family issues, criminal sorts, enforcers, chancers, money lenders, a priest for a brother, falling outs, other crimes, law enforcement, hostile takeovers, and a probably reckoning in the not too distant future.
I'm a month out from reading this and a lot of the finer details are vanishing into the ether, but from what I can recall.....
Great characters, dialogue, conversations, interactions. Most of the characters are kind of blue collar, working class sorts, a bit shady, a bit dodgy, happy to pick up a few extra bucks doing a job, no questions asked. There's a hard edge to them. The men run their households, control the wives and the money. The women raise the kids and don't complain too much about the drinking and the gambling and the whoring around.
I love how Higgins relays his tales, mostly through conversation. I like how you get to discover the story, as much through what he doesn't say and show as through what he displays. The ending in particular leaves the reader at a point where his imagination joins up the dots.
Strong, solid entertainment. Overall verdict - I liked it, but probably a little bit less than others of his.
After a long absence, ten years or so, in the past couple I've been revisiting Higgins work - The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Cogan's Trade and The Rat on Fire were all enjoyed in 2019.
Read - May, 2021
Published - 1973
Page count - 224
Source - purchased copy
Format - paperback