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The Last Good Kiss Paperback – November 5, 1988

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Contemporaries edition (November 5, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394759893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394759890
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The last good mystery." —Rolling Stone

"James Crumley is a first-rate American writer.... pyrotechnically entertaining, sexy, compassionate." —The Village Voice

"What Raymond chandler did for the Los Angeles of the Thirties, James Crumley does for the roadside West of today." —Harper's

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An unforgettable detective story starring C.W. Sughrue, a Montana investigator who kills time by working at a topless bar.

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Customer Reviews

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Popular Discussion Topics

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  • "Writing" 11
  • "Suspense" 9
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Glen Engel Cox on August 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Gardner Dozois recommended James Crumley's The Last Good Kiss to me as the best hard-boiled detective novel written in the last ten years. With that kind of recommendation, I would have been hard-pressed to pass it up. And Dozois is correct, as far as I can tell. Crumley's C.W. Sughrue has that quality that I thought was lost when I finished reading the last Dashiell Hammett story. But Crumley isn't just playing off of Hammett and Chandler, although he is firmly in their tradition. Crumley is as post-modern as they come, and knows that life and people are as sleazy as anything James Ellroy or Andrew Vachss has put to the page (not to even mention the real thing).
C.W. Sughrue is hired to track down a derelict author who's on a drinking binge by the author's ex-wife. What begins so simply quickly soon complicates--I can't quite explain how complicated it becomes, either. There's a point in the middle of the novel where I said to myself, "Well, that's it. We've had the set-up, the complication, a little goose-chase, a climax, and here we are." But I was only halfway through the book. Contrary to normal novel structure, Crumley leaves you hanging within the denouement while he sets up an entirely new climax not once or twice, but three times.
Crumley has taught literature in Texas, Arkansas and Montana, and understands the directions recent fiction has taken. Although he's not about to give up the traditional, he has assimilated some of the modern tricks. The ending, in particular, is something that I doubt you would have seen in a previous decade.
All in all, Crumley is a voice that is worth looking out for. On the basis of The Last Good Kiss, I plan to search out his other two novels and his short story collection. I recommend that you do, also.
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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A. Wolverton VINE VOICE on May 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
By the drawing of the bulldog on the most recent cover, one might mistake `The Last Good Kiss' for a cozy, cute mystery. That would be a mistake of monumental proportions. `The Last Good Kiss' is a hard hitting, gritty, graphic hard-boiled novel about some pretty nasty people doing some pretty nasty things. It's also exceptionally well written.
C.W. Sughrue, a Montana P.I., is hired to track down a drunken writer. He finds his man, but along the way Sughrue takes another case, a case he knows will lead to nothing good. His job is to find a girl who ran away from home many, many years ago. The hunt for the girl leads Sughrue through a parade of despicable degenerates with no redeeming qualities.
It can be a hard novel to read and a difficult one to forget. In Sughrue, Crumley has created a detective who lives in a broken world, hoping that there might just be one good thing on the horizon, one good reason to live, one good thing to believe in. The settings, characters, tone...it all works, establishing the novel as one of the greats in the hard-boiled mystery genre. But again, if you are looking for a nice, cozy mystery to curl up with for a relaxing evening, this is not for you. Definitely not for kids.
244 hard-boiled pages
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By ZZR-RR on September 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
The Last Good Kiss lies squarely in the private eye genre, specifically starring C.W. Sughrue from Montana, a down at heel private investigator. It is strongly American in tone, strongly written and dense, often poetic. But there is nothing staccato about it, as is often the case with modern writing when the author hones everything down to the bone. Rather, the narrative often meanders giving descriptions of the past and near present. In other words it is an excellent piece of work.
The novel borders on the hard boiled and is often very cynical as C.W. searches for the well known writer and alcoholic Abraham Trahearne. C.W. catches up with him in a down and out bar in the company of a beer lapping bulldog. After that sweet meeting they join forces and search for the bar owner's missing daughter of ten years.
The first half of the book keeps one on edge, then there's a lull before things get going again, but it's not as good as the beginning. I got the feeling the writer was running out of steam, whereby the writing is not quite as strong, nor the action as believable.
I did not care much for the ending, far too cynical for my taste. It needn't have been that way, but then I'm not the author.
That's my crit, and perhaps it sounds bad, but the book on the whole is definitely up there among America's best. I will read more by this author who demonstrates that mystery novels can reach the heights of literature.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Brian D. Rubendall HALL OF FAME on December 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
The first hundred or so pages of "The Last Good Kiss" are as good as any harboiled detective fiction ever written. Crumley's vivid detail, down-and-out characters and brief bursts of violence make his story as vivid as a Hank Williams tune. His hero, C.W. Sughrue ("Sugh" as in "sugar" and rue as in "rue the goddamned day") is everything a hardboiled detective ought to be; alcoholic, rebellious, cynical and beholden to no code of honor but his own. The mystery itself unfolds in a bizarre and complex manner, leading to a payoff that you know won't be pretty. It may take Crumley a bit too long to get there, but its a fun trip while it lasts.
Overall, a flawed but classic novel that fans of Andrew Vachss, George P. Pelecanos, Jonathan Valin and John D. MacDonald in particular ought to enjoy.
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