The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley
The Last Word Review
The crime classic that packs a drunken punch on every page. An all-time classic.
When a crime novel starts with the following 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 of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.” You know that this is a no holds barred cult crime classic and since it was first published in 1978 this opening gambit still stands the test of time as far crime classics go.
C.W. Sughrue is a Montana based private investigator in who seems to spend most of his time as drunk as he could get to it, in fact drunk nearly all the time is a more accurate perception.
The story is that Sughrue is hired by a woman to find her ex-husband, the wandering alcoholic Abraham Trahearne who is a writer and she believes is hell bent on killing himself with booze. Sughrue then spends weeks tracking Trahearne in every bar most of which seem to fall into the category of dives and hell holes. Sooner or later he was bound to catch up with his quarry and sure enough he does and what follows is pure classic crime writing fiction, a hell of bar fight takes place involving a number of the clientele and including the drunken Bulldog. Trahearne is hurt in the bar-room brawl and is hospitalised.
Following the fight, the owner of the bar then requests the help of Sughrue to help locate her daughter who is missing San Francisco and has been for many years. How they disappeared really is interesting. It then transpires that Sughrue and Trahearne both end up looking for the girl.
The way that Crumley has written the story very much in the first person but also at times he will lure you into his head to read his mind and you become part of the story as you try and solve the mystery surrounding the missing girl. This is pure classic crime noir.
There is plenty sex in the story line as well as alcohol infused profanity. The old premise that you can run but you can’t hide really starts to come out as part of the story looks at identity and looking at and dealing with your past.
The Last Good Kiss has been really influential since its first release and helped launch some of the great crime writers of the last thirty years. Even though it was first released in 1978 it will have a new readers flocking to Crumley’s writing. If you have not read this before and you enjoy a raw crime novel this is a must read.
Thank you to Naomi Mantin for an advanced review copy.
The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley released through Black Swan and available through Waterstones and all good book shops.