Wednesday, September 24, 2008


James Crumley, one of the great ones, died a few days ago. I was introduced to him at the San Francisco Mystery Bookstore by the old owner who knew exactly what to recommend to "those lunatics who read Jim Thompson." He handed me a copy of The Wrong Case opened to page 5. The narrator describes witnessing a purse snatching from his office window that ended with the thief struck by one car and dragged a half block by another. "I had never realized purse snatching was such a dangerous crime..." Sold!

Crumley's probably best known for The Last Good Kiss and its immortal opening line:
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 Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.
And things only get better when the aforesaid Mr. Trahearne happily finds himself in a car "'...wandering around America with an alcoholic bulldog, a seedy private dick, and a working quart of Wild Turkey.'" How can anyone resist?

Sadly, Crumley only wrote a handfull of books. They all slide down well and pack a whallop, but like fine whiskey, deserve to be slowly and carefully savored.

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