« Back to Books

Cogan’s Trade

By George V. Higgins

Now a major motion picture Starring Brad Pitt

A hard-hitting, tour de force tale of the mob and the man who makes sure their rules are the only rules, by the American master of crime George V. Higgins.

Jackie Cogan is an enforcer, and when the mob’s rules get broken, Cogan is called in to take care of business. This time a high-stakes card game has been held up by an unknown gang of thugs. Calculating, ruthless, businesslike, and with a shrewd sense of other people’s weaknesses, Cogan plies his trade, moving among a variety of hoods, hangers-on, and big-timers, tracking those responsible, and returning “law and order” to the lawless Boston underworld.

Combining remarkable wit, crackling dialogue, and a singular ability to show criminal life as it is lived, George V. Higgins builds an incredible story of crime to an unforgettable climax.

George V. Higgins was the author of more than 20 novels, including the bestsellers The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Cogan’s Trade, and The Digger’s Game. He was a reporter for the Providence Journal and the Associated Press before obtaining a law degree from Boston College Law School in 1967. He was an assistant attorney general and then an assistant United States attorney in Boston from 1969 to 1973. He later taught creative writing at Boston University. He died in 1999.


“George V. Higgins is the master stylist of the current generation of serious thriller writers. Cogan’s Trade is a brilliant exposition of Higgins’s Boston underworld as the flip side of all respectable lives of desperation. As a thriller it is that taut story whose drama is heightened by our own understanding of how it has to end.” Washington Post Book World

“A masterly description of a lonely, brutal, and insecure world … and like all fine thrillers, it has a metaphoric quality as well. … It should make a reflective reader grateful.” Wall Street Journal

“Another gripping plunge into Boston’s underworld. This is real crime, with its chanciness, its rawness, its carelessly dirty talk tape-recorder true.” The Times (London)

“The ultimate in hard-boiled gutter fiction.” Boston Globe

“About as perfect as anything an American writer has done in years. It’s absolutely flawless. … All his books attain a high order of craftsmanship.”—John Gregory Dunne

“If John Le Carré captures the world of spies, George V. Higgins grabs the lifestyle of the American underworld by the throat. In Cogan’s Trade he superbly re-creates the world of minor gangsters.” Daily Mirror (UK)

“A superb novel. . . His work will be read when the work of competing writers has been forgotten.” Chicago Daily News

“This is real crime with the chanciness, its rawness, its carelessly dirty talk tape-recorder true.” —H.R.F. Keating, The Times (London)

“A superb novel that happens to be about criminals. … George V. Higgins is a complete novelist. The publication of his third novel will elicit reviews designating him the best crime novelist now writing. But this begs the question of Higgins’s real stature. … His ability to command the reader’s confidence defines his achievement. He knows what he is writing about … He makes us believe in his work.” Chicago Daily News

Cogan’s Trade
Warning: Undefined variable $book_page_id in /home/alblaf/thelafargeagency.com/wp-content/themes/lafarge_1.0/block-buy-links.php on line 4

Vintage / Black Lizard, 2011

First published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1974.

Now a major motion picture.

(Watch the trailer.)

Books by George V. Higgins

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1972)
The Digger’s Game (1973)†*^
Cogan’s Trade (1974)†*^
A City on a Hill (1975)
The Friends of Richard Nixon (1975)
The Judgment of Deke Hunter (1976)
Dreamland (1977)
A Year or So with Edgar (1979)
Kennedy for the Defense (1980)†^
The Rat on Fire (1981)†*^
The Patriot Game (1982)†*^
A Choice of Enemies (1984)
Penance for Jerry Kennedy (1985)†^
Imposters (1986)
Outlaws (1987)†*^
The Sins of the Fathers (1988)
Wonderful Years, Wonderful Years (1988)
The Progress of the Seasons (1989)
Trust (1989)†^
On Writing (1990)
Victories (1990)
The Mandeville Talent (1991)
Defending Billy Ryan (1992)†
Bomber’s Law (1993)†
Swan Boats at Four (1995)
Sandra Nichols Found Dead (1996)
A Change of Gravity (1997)
The Agent (1998)
At End of Day (2000)†*^
The Easiest Thing in the World: The Uncollected Fiction of George V. Higgins (ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli) (2004)

†Vintage (US), 2011/12
*Orion (UK), 2012