Books: Back on the Beat

THE JUDGMENT OF OEKE HUNTER by GEORGE V. HIGGINS 276 pages. Atlantic-Little, Brown. $8.95.

In The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1972), Novelist George V. Higgins did for Massachusetts hoodlums what Damon Runyan did for Broadway's guys and dolls: he turned their chatter into brassy poetry. Higgins' next two thrillers dipped into the same shady world as his first—that cramped anteroom just off the criminal stage where bit-players practice their monologues. After a talky Washington novel (A City on the Hill) and a tepid retelling of the Watergate investigation (The Friends of Richard Nixon), Higgins has returned to the beat where he evidently...

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