The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley reviewed

The Last Good Kiss Book Cover The Last Good Kiss
James Crumley

C.W. Sughrue, a Montana private eye, is hired to track down a failing author and winds up searching for Betty Sue Flowers, a woman missing for ten years in Haight-Ashbury

I guess I’d say, if you are using ebooks, get the sample and read the first three paragraphs – if you can’t smell and taste the atmosphere by then this book may not be for you. I was certainly well hooked by the end of the first chapter. This book by James Crumley is an American PI (private investigator) type novel in the Chandler, Spillane, Sam Spade genre and tradition. C.W. – the PI – comes over as world weary, unsure and frequently booze fueled. It’s funny, angry, sad and often thoughtful. The humour is pretty dark and at times the book deals with violence fairly explicitly in case that is an issue.

I probably could quote this book endlessly the writing is so well crafted almost throughout.
“Youth endures all things, kings, poetry and love. Everything but time.”
It runs from the profound through the mundane and off past philosophy. The blurb for the book gives a good idea of the story (and is what attracted me to this book). CW is hired to find a writer who is roaming around bars, drinking hard, by his ex wife. CW finds him and the alcoholic dog who has joined him (!) after a couple of weeks and stays to drink with him. The landlady of the bar asks CW if he will look for her long missing daughter. The writer, the PI and the dog head off on a road trip.

The sheer quality of the writing is remarkable to me. If nowadays it might be considered slightly clichéd you need to remember that this was written before it would have considered as clichéd as the book was originally published in 1988. In practice I could write this review focusing solely on the quality and power of the writing here. It really does show you how a writer can paint extremely vivid pictures and work emotions simply with words. However the story is actually very good too and I really did enjoy the tale. Overall it is one of the best books I’ve read in many years although I would accept that that may simply be because it makes a real change from “modern” books. Either way I loved it.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review