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The Last Good Kiss Paperback – Nov 5 1988

4.6 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (Nov. 5 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394759893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394759890
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #211,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"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

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book has been praised by many, including crime writers I admire, but now that I've read the book, all I can say is that I don't understand what all the fuss is about. The story lacks suspense and narrative tension (things just kind of happen, one after another, to the passive protagonist); the characters are disappointingly superficial; and my B.S. meter was in the red zone throughout a large part of the book. It's neither a mystery nor a thriller; it's more of a period road-trip story with a weakly-motivated quest and some shady characters and dealings thrown in. The ending (with or without the last chapter) brought no satisfaction.
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.
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Format: Paperback
I agree with the other reviewers--a well-written P.I. novel. I don't usually read mysteries these days and even though I read this one two decades ago I simply had to say a word or two about it as a way of paying respects to Mr. Crumley and the fine job of writing he has done here. Terrific read. Just thinking about it makes me want to buy another copy (I lost the first one somewhere) for a second reading. Genre novels of this caliber are few and far between. Bukowski attempted to write one entitled Pulp and failed miserably. I like Buk a lot, but to be honest he missed the target entirely with his take on the P.I. tale. What can you do? Last Good Kiss delivers.
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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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Format: Paperback
James Crumley, here in his second detective novel (and only his third book) penned a bona-fide classic of the genre. Let me clarify further - not only is this one of the greatest mystery novels ever written, it is also one of the best novels of modern fiction written in the last 20 years. Crumley shows in this novel his unparalled prose style that in many passages reads like the best poetry. The opening line to the book is justly famous, both lyrical and tragic in its tone, but throughout the book Crumley does what a few truly great writers are able to do - to construct passages that transcend their time and place and possess a beauty that transforms prose into poetry. Crumley with this book established that he had no contemporary equals; only Chandler in a few of his books is able to equal or surpass Crumley for unabashed poetic brillance. (In fact a close reading of The Last Good Kiss shows it's indebteness to Chandler's The Long Good Bye.) Many of the other reviews have touched upon the book's cynical and tragic elements - which are certianly there - but this only helps to contrast with the beauty of the writing.
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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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