What would you do if you found a million dollars?
Joey Coyle was down and out--the affable, boyish South Philadelphian hadn't found dock work in months, he was living with his ailing mother, and he was fighting a drug habit and what seemed like a lifetime of bouncing into and out of bad luck. One morning, though, while cruising the streets just blocks from his home, fate took a turn worthy of Hollywood when he spotted a curious yellow tub he thought might make a good toolbox. It contained $1.2 million in unmarked bills--casino money that had just fallen off the back of an armored truck.
Told in riveting, novelistic detail by "a master of narrative journalism" (New York Times Book Review), Mark Bowden's Finders Keepers is the incredible true story of a tight-knit working-class community suddenly steeped in intrigue. Even before news of the missing money exploded across the headlines, Detective Pat Laurenzi, with the help of the FBI, was working around the clock to track it down. Joey Coyle, meanwhile, was off on a bungling, swashbuckling misadventure, sharing his windfall with everyone from his girlfriend to total strangers to the two neighborhood kids who drove him past it (and whose parents were beginning to wonder where their car had disappeared to). To hide the money, Joey turned to the local mob boss--a shadowy, fearsome man who may or may not have helped launder it. But as adrenaline-filled nights began taking their toll, Joey Coyle's dream-come-true evolved into a nightmare: Whom could he trust? With an entire city on the hunt, for how long could he continue to hide? And was he prepared to live his life in constant fear of being caught, maybe even killed?
By one of our most evocative and versatile chroniclers of American life, Finders Keepers is not only a gripping true-life thriller, it is the remarkable tale of an ordinary man faced with an extraordinary dilemma, and the fascinating reactions--from complicity to concern to betrayal--of the friends, family, and neighbors to whom he turns.
Bowden follows two bestsellers (Black Hawk Down; Killing Pablo) with a tragicomic tale based on a series of articles he wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he was a reporter for two decades. Joey Coyle, at 28, is down and out, amiable but aimless, an unemployed longshoreman from South Philly who, despite his cheerful exterior, has a gnawing sense of inadequacy that he masks with methamphetamine. In February 1981, Joey has a spectacularly lucky or spectacularly unlucky, as Bowden shows with the tale's unfolding day: driving with a couple of guys from the neighborhood, he finds two sacks containing $1.2 million in cash. Despite major media attention on the money's disappearance from an armored car, Coyle decides to keep it. What ensues is partly a police procedural (will the cops find Joey?), but the drama, as Bowden relates the story, lies mainly in Coyle's rapid, drug-mediated deterioration into panic and paranoia as he attempts to launder and stash the money. Bowden's narrative is succinct and fast-moving, spare but complete, and ends in a farcical trial, in which Coyle tries an insanity defense, followed by Hollywood's muddled attempt to turn the story into a feel-good movie starring John Cusack. The tale has a sad conclusion, as Coyle's attempt to live up to his new role as a kind of urban hero fails. This is a smaller tale than Bowden's earlier ones, but a satisfying one, smartly told. (Oct.) Forecast: As Bowden writes, who doesn't dream of finding $1 million? This should have wide appeal, aided by Bowden's reputation.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
September 16, 2003
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Finders Keepers by Mark Bowden
February 26, 1981
Joey Coyle was crashing. He had been high all night, and coming down from the meth always made him feel desperate and confused. When he was cranked up the drug gave him gusts of energy so great that his lungs and brain fought to keep pace. That was how he felt at night. When he slept it was usually during the day.
Today there would be little sleep because he had used up his whole stash. No stash and, as usual, no money. It had been almost a month since the union had called to give him work on the docks. He made good money as a longshoreman. It was where his father had worked and where his older brother worked. Joey had never finished high school but he had an educated feel for machinery. On the docks they used him to repair the lifts, and he was good at it. He took pride in that. Engine grease colored gray the heavy calluses on his hands. But for more than a year the economy had been bad in Philadelphia and there had been few chances to work. They had called him to fill in for a few weeks over the Christmas holidays, but there had been nothing since. So the desperation kicked in at sunrise. Where would he find the next fix?
The empty hours weighed on Joey. He was twenty-eight and he still lived in his mother's house. He was devoted to his mom. His father had died of a heart attack on a night after Joey had stormed out following an argument. The old man hadn't liked the length of Joey's hair. His last words to his son were spoken in anger, and Joey believed he had killed him. Eight years had passed and the guilt he felt was undiminished. Looking after his mother had helped, staying with her, but she had fallen ill with liver disease and she needed care he couldn't give, or couldn't be relied upon to give. She had moved just a few blocks away to his sister Ellen's apartment. Joey took it as another defeat. He felt like he had let his mother down, but also that she had let him down. She had left. He felt rejected and a failure, but would not have put those words on the feelings because Joey was not the type to look inside himself to figure out how and why he felt the way he did. He just kept moving. Meth helped with that. Most people called it speed. Joey called it 'blow.' It blew away all the demons of self-doubt and depression. In the months since his mother left his days blurred into nights in a speeding carousel of exhilarating highs and then crushing lows. Then would come the accelerating frantic urge to find money to buy more, to fire himself up again.
His home on Front Street was at the tattered edge of the tight matrix of South Philly's streets. To the west was the neighborhood's strong, nurturing core, its churches, schools, markets, and corner restaurants and bars. It was the oldest part of the city, low houses in row after brick row, most of them just two stories high. Kinship was sewn tightly in its even blocks. Brothers lived across narrow streets from brothers, fathers from sons and nephews and grandsons. In the narrow alleys folks would grin at the way they could sometimes see in the awkward way a boy ran or squinted or threw a ball the reflected image of his grandfather or great-uncle. When a man from South Philly said he knew a fellow 'from the neighborhood,' it meant something more like family than an acquaintance. South Philly was Catholic. It was proud and superstitious, pragmatic and devout.
The world had changed around South Philly. The jobs that had built it were mostly gone. It cohered like a fine-spun rug, its loyalties and affections knit tougher than the forces that would wear it down. It was a shelter against change, the future. Out Joey's back door, to the east, was a vision of the unforgiving world outside its boundaries, a wasteland, a vast expanse of weedy, trash-piled lots, junkyards, old brick warehouses defaced with graffiti, the discarded remnants of a once thriving port and manufacturing giant. Rusting hulks of old boxcars crouched in forlorn rows alongside the newer cars that occasionally came and went, moving between the fenced-in lots around the trucking yards and dwindling industrial works along the Delaware River waterfront. Over this bleak expanse the air was tinged gray and tasted of ash. Just behind the row of houses on Joey's block loomed the hulking concrete underside of Interstate 95, which cast a perpetual shadow wider than a city block.