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The West is still Wild

By October 7, 2022No Comments
James Crumley Tom Callaghan

“When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.”

The opening sentence of James Crumley’s ‘The Last Good Kiss’ tells you exactly what you’re in for when you cracked open the book.

Trouble, alcohol, guns and an unerring taste for lowlife. And that’s the mild stuff.

For my money, what little there is of it, James Crumley is the equal of James Lee Burke when it comes to a hard-boiled narrative that faces up to the brutal and inescapable contradictions in all of us.

Indeed, in some ways, he is Burke’s superior, in that his characters aren’t driven by a moral conscience tortured by past regrets, but simply do what they can to survive and retain a little dignity.

I love all Crumley’s books, but my recommendation to a beginner would be ‘The Long Good Kiss’.

CW Sughrue is working at a topless bar, when he’s hired to find a drunken novelist, and ends up hunting for a girl missing for a decade. It’s a trawl through America’s underbelly, and it has an inevitable unhappy ending.

Violent, amoral, driven by sex, money and drugs, what’s not to like?

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