The Last Good Kiss Paperback – Nov 5 1988
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"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
About the Author
James Crumley was born in Three Rivers, Texas, and spent most of his childhood in South Texas. He currently teaches creative writing at the University of Texas at El Paso and summers in Missoula, Montana. His earlier works include a novel of Vietnam, One to Count Cadence, and three detective novels: The Wrong Case, The Last Good Kiss, and Dancing Bear. Mr. Crumley is at work on a novel about Texas.
Top Customer Reviews
How anyone can compare this writer to James Ellroy is beyond me. Yes, there's some superficially grim subject matter in The Last Good Kiss, but Ellroy, unlike Crumley, digs into his stories' evil in a relentlessly true and honest way. Further, where Ellroy's writing sings and bops, Crumley's is pedestrian. Perhaps sleazy subject matter was shocking in the '70s, but it sure isn't now. The whole '70s on-the-road shtick gets old fast, too. The bulldog was the best thing about this book.
If you want to read fine crime writing that's grim, true, and well written, try Ellroy's The Big Nowhere and the rest of his L.A. Quartet, or anything by Dennis Lehane.
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
James Crumley presents us with another private detective hailing from Meriwether, Montana. C. W. Sughrue is a very interesting character. While he's not without his faults, he drinks, chases women and breaks the law when he has to, he is a morally strong character who is determined to see that justice prevails above all else. He finds himself in an unusual position in dealing with Trahearne. Trahearne seems to live peacefully with his wife, ex-wife and mother, but feels the need to occasionally get away and go on a bender every so often. He befriends Sughrue and they do a bit of travelling together, but Sughrue keeps getting the feeling that something's not quite right, but can't quite put his finger on what it is.
There's quite a bit more to this story than first meets the eye, and the key to it has to do with Sughrue's feelings towards Trahearne and his family. Sughrue's uneasiness rubbed off to me a little and I was beginning to wonder what I was supposed to be picking up. It was a clever device that drew me into the story, ensuring that I read every word closely, looking for a clue that would tip me off.
This is an easy-going hardboiled story, if there can be such a thing. Sughrue is a very laid back character and seems to have all the time in the world to look for his missing persons, enjoying the journey as much as possible. This made it feel as though I was cruising through the book along with him until all the pieces of the jigsaw fell together towards the end.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I bought this book some years ago because I liked the picture of the bulldog on the cover. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. C.W. Read morePublished on Oct. 9 2002 by Cindy
The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley is a book that will stay with me for a long time. The editorial review says that Last Good Kiss is "unforgettable" and it is. Read morePublished on July 15 2002 by Rafik
This is an excellent mystery novel. If you taught a University level course on the mystery-noir, this would follow Hammett and Chandler and precede James Lee Burke and George... Read morePublished on June 28 2002 by Larry Scantlebury
After reading the glowing reviews, I thought I would be in for a mesmerizing journey. Sorry to say, I would only classify it as meandering. Read morePublished on May 5 2002 by Frank Green
This is the first book by James Crumley that I have read. Believe me I plan to read others. After each reading of
Crumley's book I felt I needed to take a shower. Read more
This is the best mystery novel I have ever read. Absolutly. No question. If you like Hammet, Chandler, or Ellroy you won't go wrong reading this terrific book.Published on Oct. 16 2001 by David H Massie
Never having read raymond chandler I can't comment on comparisons to him, but I was blown away by this book. Read morePublished on Aug. 22 2001 by James C. Dascoli