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The Last Good Kiss Paperback – November 5, 1988
Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
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"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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
C.W. Sughrue a Montana investigator, who focuses mainly on missing persons and serving papers, is hired to find a woman's ex-husband, an author, who often disappears on binges. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Smokey
This book's reputation precedes it by a good measure. The writing is colorful and somewhat amusing, but the plot struggles to gain any real momentum.Published 2 months ago by Alex Scorpio
Meet Private Detective C. W. Sughrue.
Private detectives are supposed to find missing persons and solve crimes. Read more
Great! Loved it! It really was excellent and straight out of the gonzo gumshoe genre. If you liked Dashiell Hammett then this is for you!Published 4 months ago by B. Colbert
I am not very familiar with this genre and I also have to admit to having never heard of this author before but, I am going through a phase of trying new things to read, and this... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Ashrae