Bomber's Law
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Bomber's Law

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by George V. Higgins

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A winding tale of suspicion and intrigue, George V. Higgins skillfully recounts the story of elusive Short Joey Mossi.
When detective sergeant Harry Dell’Appa went into enforced exile in the Berkshires to put an end to an ill-fated office romance, he didn’t expect to be called back to Boston so soon. But desperate times…so the saying


A winding tale of suspicion and intrigue, George V. Higgins skillfully recounts the story of elusive Short Joey Mossi.
When detective sergeant Harry Dell’Appa went into enforced exile in the Berkshires to put an end to an ill-fated office romance, he didn’t expect to be called back to Boston so soon. But desperate times…so the saying goes, and head detective Brian Dennison is keen for Short Joey Mossi, a suspected mob exterminator, to be arrested once and for all. Dell’Appa is called in to assist detective Bob Brennan, an old rival of his, who despite knowing all there is to know about Mossi, has never apprehended him. The plot thickens and Dell’Appa learns time and time again of the primacy of Bomber’s Law: they always “do it for the money”.
In Bomber’s Law, Higgins operates on a captivating policy of “partial disclosure”, leaving the reader to piece together the plot, morsel by morsel.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``We did it for the money'' is retired lawman Bomber Lawrence's explanation for any piece of bad behavior, and Higgins's latest feast of dialogue (after Defending Billy Ryan ) often illustrates Bomber's Law. Recalled to Boston after a 12-month exile in the Massachusetts sticks, sergeant Harry Dell'Appa replaces Bob Brennan on a stakeout of Short Joey Mossi, a reputed mob hit man on whom the police have as yet been unable to pin anything. Going through Brennan's file on Mossi, Dell'Appa finds it suspiciously light; longstanding mutual dislike between the two cops makes it easy for Harry to believe there's something fishy going on. The reason for their antagonism and the results of Dell'Appa's suspicions are revealed in Higgins's preferred style, which favors dialogue--or rather, monologues--over narrative descriptions. The simple, precise plot constantly gets lost in the author's urge to reproduce the exact cadences of his characters' speech; individual sentences are accurate, realistic and very well written, but the endless digressions and stories within the story are rambling and undramatic, especially when compared to the dialogue that is directly plot-motivated. Still, with an author who uses monologues like arias to create atmosphere and character, plot naturally takes second place. Perhaps that's Higgins's Law: He did it for the dialogue. BOMC selection. (Nov.)
Library Journal
The hero of Higgins's 23rd mystery novel is Detective Sgt. Harry Dell'Appa, a sensitive investigator in his thirties who has returned to his Boston headquarters on special assignment after an enforced exile in the Berkshires designed to call a halt to his ill-fated office romance. Almost entirely through dialog, the reader comes to loathe Harry's partner, who's been tailing a hired mob killer for years with no apparent results. In a dramatic finale, we learn the reasons for Harry's puzzling inertia. Higgins comes through again with the subtle characterization and humor we expect; one wants to reread the book to savor the clues scattered here and there. Sure to satisfy the legions of Higgins fans and win new converts. BOMC main selection.-- Joyce Smothers, Monmouth Cty . Lib . , Manalapan, N.J.
Bill Ott
Remember diagramming sentences? A pedantic exercise, but one that taught us a lot about what goes into a sentence. If you were to diagram a conversation in this latest George Higgins' novel, you would learn a lot, too. Mostly, you'd see that when two of Higgins' people talk, they rarely stick to the subject--or that the subject isn't always what it seems to be. Gleaning information in Higgins' world is like gleaning information in life: nobody tells you the point straight out; you piece it together slowly, often learning more from the tangents a speaker follows than from any direct answers he or she might give. Take the matter of Short Joey Mossi, a gangster whom Boston cop Bob Brennan has been tailing for years. We learn through conversations between Brennan and his successor on the tail, Harry Dell'Appa, and between Harry and his boss, Brian Dennison, that all is not kosher with this investigation. Moreover, though, we learn about Harry's marriage, about the bad blood between Harry and Bob, about the nightmare of a house Brian is stuck with, and even about Short Joey's early career as a fighter. We change our minds several times about which characters we like and which we don't like, and in the end, we don't so much like or not like any of them as we come to accept that their actions are driven by a kind of sad inevitability. Bomber Lawrence, Brian's former boss, called it Bomber's Law: we do it for the money. That's a simple enough sentence, easy to diagram, but it doesn't really mean much until you add the subclauses and the interjections. Maybe that's the point of diagramming sentences and of reading Higgins: there's more to life than a subject and a verb.
Kirkus Reviews
Higgins's matchless ear for dialogue often overshadows the way his art relies on digressive anecdotes for its garrulous music and its flavorsome sense of reality. Now Higgins (Victories, etc., etc.) has written a novel that's virtually nothing but digressions—the fable of Achilles and the tortoise narrated by a South Boston Beckett. Sgt. Harry Dell'Appa's been recalled from banishment in the wilds of Massachusetts to join Sgt. Bob Brennan in watching Short Joey Mossi, a mob exterminator of lowlifes. Brennan, who knows everything there is to know about Joey and everything else, regales Harry with stories about who Joey killed when, how Joey's retarded brother Danny became untouchable, why Brennan's own well-heeled brother Doug is such a wuss, and how Joey's regular habits mirror those of chop-shop cuckold Buddy Royal, who just can't stop swiping high-end cars. As the stream of stories becomes a torrent, though—amplified largely through Harry's conversations about Brennan with his wife Gayle and his boss Lt. Brian Dennison (the Great Den Mother)—Harry begins to wonder why Brennan, who's gotten the goods on Joey long since, doesn't just take him in. Gradually the novel becomes a stately dance of distance, since just as he keeps Harry at arm's length by running off at the mouth, Brennan's evidently been following Joey for years without ever wanting to catch up with him. (The moment when Harry does catch up with Joey—practically the only event in this balletic novel—is priceless.) Yet there's a logical explanation for Brennan's behavior, too, hidden, as you'd expect, deep inside the husk of all those anecdotes—an explanation that bears out the universal rule ofDennison's legendary predecessor Bomber Lawrence: You always do it for the money. This may be the ultimate Higgins novel. The author's ability to tease an entire plot out of a series of delaying tactics—and to provide a satisfying ending for what seemed at first like an entire meal of gooey desserts—is nothing short of amazing.

From the Publisher
"A league apart is Bomber's Law by George V. Higgins, one of the most accomplished novelists ever to write in the crime-fiction field."

-The Wall Street Journal

"A brilliantly funny depiction of small-timers, their scams and grudges."

-The New York Daily News

"Bomber's Law is one of Higgins's best books and plainly the work of a man who knows his craft inside and out . . . If the world were a just place (whaddya nuts?), this book would make Higgins a fortune and burnish his critical reputation forever."


Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Random House
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2 MB

Meet the Author

George V. Higgins was a lawyer, journalist, teacher, and the author of 29 books, including The Friends of Eddie Coyle (0-8050-6598-9), Trust (0-8050-0955-8), and Kennedy for the Defense (0-8050-4182-6).

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Bomber's Law 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
George V.Higgins had amaster touch with dialogue,telling the story subtly with dead on speech patterns and vocabulary.Bombers Law is one of his very best,engaging and surprising.