James Crumley died today, after a long illness.
Crumley was not as famous as James Ellroy and not as prolific as Michael Connelly or Robert Crais, but he was one of the key links between the great crime novelists of the past - Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross McDonald - and those who are at the forefront of the literary world today.
His best book was "The Last Good Kiss," released in the late 1970s, and it was good enough to stand alongside any of the great detective fiction written in the 20th century. It featured one of his heroes, C.W. Sughrue ("that's Sug as in sugar, and rue as in rue the g*d damn day"); his other main protagonist, Milo Milodragovich, was nearly as memorable in "Dancing Bear." After that there was a long stretch of inactivity, but in recent years there were a number of books - "The Mexican Tree Duck," "Bordersnakes," and in 2005, "The Right Madness." About that book, The Rocky Mountain News wrote,
"If Hunter S. Thompson had tried to write private-eye novels, they might have come out mimicking Crumley's, but never equaling them."
Not a bad epitaph. R.I.P.