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The Last Good Kiss (C.W. Sughrue #1)

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,009 Ratings  ·  328 Reviews
An unforgettable detective story starring C.W. Sughrue, a Montana investigator who kills time by working at a topless bar. Hired to track down a derelict author, he ends up on the trail of a girl missing in Haight-Ashbury for a decade. The tense hunt becomes obsessive as Sughrue takes a haunting journey through the underbelly of America's sleaziest nightmares.
Paperback, 244 pages
Published November 5th 1988 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 1978)
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The Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Long Goodbye by Raymond ChandlerFarewell, My Lovely by Raymond ChandlerThe Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
Best Hardboiled PI & Noir
72nd out of 530 books — 661 voters
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha ChristieThe Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerFarewell, My Lovely by Raymond ChandlerThe Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan DoyleThe Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Bloomsbury 100 Must Read Crime Novels
29th out of 154 books — 126 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul Bryant
P BRYANT'S 18 RULES FOR HARD-BOILED PRIVATE EYE NOVELISTS

1) The hero of your hard-boiled private-eye genre thriller shall be irresistible to women, mostly. Say about 80%, no need to stretch credulity. He will shag at least four women he encounters during the story and will also gently, sensitively refuse to shag a fifth one, not because he's tired out but because it wouldn't be the right thing. He has morals.

2) All the women are sexually bold. They all sleep naked.

3) He will take a good few beat
...more
Glenn Russell
Mar 04, 2016 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing
FINAL REVIEW

James Crumley (1939-2008) - Texas tough guy, Army vet and creator of some of the most colorful crime fiction ever written, this rugged author could do drugs and drink whiskey with the best of them. A watering hole in Missoula, Montana has a bar stool dedicated to James Crumley.

From the first page of this, the author’s best known novel starring first-person narrator and slumping hero Montana investigator C. W. Sughrue, "Trahearne had been on this wandering binge for nearly three weeks
...more
Bill  Kerwin
Aug 08, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it it was amazing

One of the best mysteries of all time. Contains cynicism and good-humor, elegiac sadness, a lot of drinking, a small bit of love and--oh yeah--a damn good plot and enough violence to keep you awake. And best of all, the voice of the detective narrator: charming, infuriating, and ultimately reliable C.W. Sughrue. If Sam Peckinpah wrote mysteries, they would be like this.

Kemper
Aug 25, 2009 Kemper rated it really liked it
James Crumley died last year, and if there were any justice, he'd be alive today and recognized as one of the great modern crime writers while Dan Brown would have had his guts chewed out by weasels and be buried in a pauper's grave instead of getting rich off The Da Vinci Code. But there isn't any justice, and no one knew that better than Crumley.

I once read that his novels were like a combination of Raymond Chandler and Hunter Thompson, and that's about as good as a description as you're likel
...more
Dan Schwent
Apr 10, 2013 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it
C.W. Sughrue is hired to rack down an author before he drinks himself to death. Complications ensue and Sughrue takes on a second case while he's waiting for the writer to be healthy enough to travel, finding a girl that's been missing for ten years. Where will Sughrue's cases take him?

Ever read a book and wonder what rock you must have been hiding beneath to never hear of it sooner? The Last Good Kiss is one of those books. Numerous reviewers have described it as a cross between Raymond Chandle
...more
Karl
Mar 07, 2016 Karl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
One of those books that showed up just at the right time in my life.
I enjoyed this book so much it almost hurt. It changed my reading patterns, and what I read.

I can't say enough good stuff about this book.

This copy is signed by the author.
Algernon
Mar 25, 2014 Algernon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
[9/10]
He wrote about the things he saw on binges, about the road, about small towns whose future had become hostage to freeways, about truck-stop waitresses whose best hope is moving to Omaha or Cheyenne, about pasts that hung around like unwelcome ghosts, about bars where the odd survivors of some misunderstood disaster gathered to stare at dusty brown photographs of themselves, to stare at their drinks sepia in their glasses.

Noir is for me a literary art form that never gets out of fashion.
...more
Cathy DuPont
Jan 15, 2015 Cathy DuPont rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Tfitoby
The International Chocolate Awards first place winner World Final
GOLD: Pacari Chocolate (Ecuador) – Montubia

U.S. Open Medal Winners & Grand National Champion
Wormtown Brewing in Worcester, Massachusetts

Cathy DuPont's first place winner for best book 2014-2015
The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley

Recently I read about an author (whose name I can't recall) who immersed himself in a subject then when he had learned everything he wanted about it, his interest bucketed and he began again on an entir
...more
Krok Zero
Nov 16, 2010 Krok Zero rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fall-2010
It would be an insult to the boozy soul of this book to write a review while sober, so for now I'll just say that it's a goddamn masterpiece of American detective fiction, and the best book I've read this year.

Update: OK, I'm still sober but want to get some thoughts down now, so my apologies to the late Mr. Crumley.

This is a post-detective novel, cut from the same cloth as '70s anti-mystery films like Penn's Night Moves ("Maybe he would find the girl...maybe he would find himself" could be the
...more
Tfitoby
Jan 08, 2013 Tfitoby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first great read of 2013.

"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 out of a fine spring afternoon..."

Crumley opens with this line and doesn't let up for nearly 300 pages of a rambling, alcohol soaked journey through a series of hard-boiled, depraved, violent and miserable events in the hunt for a beautiful girl missing for the past ten yea
...more
Mohammed
I wouldnt say this is the best PI novel i have read writing wise like say Hammett or the best PI character stories like Matt Scudder novel but it was a good mix of both.

I was impressed by his prose, the fact he wasnt interested in just telling entertaining crime story, the novel was more ambitious than that. Calm pace, compassionate, real story that wanted to say something and a PI hero in CW Sughrue that felt so interesting, so real that i could read him doing nothing special for a whole novel
...more
Adam
Feb 16, 2010 Adam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: black-comedy, noir
Rambling, alcohol soaked, depressive detective masterpiece from Crumley. Comparisons to Hunter S. Thompson and Peckinpah(the character C.W. yeans for Ride the High Country at one point but a closer touchtone is that similarly depressive, alcohol damaged picaresque Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) ring as true as Chandler. Great characters that I would follow anywhere and became absorbed with enough to be shocked when the plot turned on a dime, especially by the twists in the final pages tha ...more
Richard Vialet
A true classic of the crime fiction genre, and for some reason I just got around to it. The book introduces C.W. Sughrue, a Vietnam vet who is now a private dick, usually working boring jobs doing repossessions and divorce cases. As the novel opens, he's finally tracked down Abraham Trahearne, a famous drunken writer who Sughrue was hired to track down before he drinks himself to death. While on the job, he takes another assignment from an old barmaid to track down her daughter, who ran away fro ...more
Paromjit
Apr 06, 2016 Paromjit rated it it was amazing
I cannot believe that I had never heard of James Crumley or this novel with his colourful Montana PI C.W. Sughrue before! I have to say the novel is brilliant and is set in an atmospheric and eye catching world with Sughrue working in a topless bar. Crumley is a gifted writer and wordsmith who deploys language skilfully. He creates a vivid picture of the characters, their quirks and foibles along with superb descriptions. There is a flawed hero, alcohol, women, cynicism and violence that harks b ...more
Michael
James Crumley’s private investigator CW Sughrue finds himself searching for a runaway young woman, missing for ten years. But this is not how it started out; he was hired by a woman to find her ex-husband, Abraham Trahearne before he drinks himself to death. A confrontation in the bar that results in Trahearne being injured in hospital puts Sughrue in a position to look for this missing woman.

This hard-boiled novel is told in a way I don’t think has been done enough in a pulp crime novel. A para
...more
Skip
Sep 08, 2011 Skip rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
Quality mystery about a private detective who is hired by his ex-wife to find an author, who seems to be out on a major bender. When CW finally tracks him down, he becomes obsessed with helping the bartender there find her daughter, who has not been seen in a decade since joining hippies in Haight-Asbury. The two story lines twist and turn, with many surprises along the way.
Gerard Cappa
Feb 21, 2014 Gerard Cappa rated it really liked it
I had 'The Last Good Kiss' lined up for some time and the post-Christmas bliss of semi-hibernation was the perfect time - I would read it in two or three days.
Crumley's style had me hooked straight away; my kind of writer, sit back and enjoy the ride.
"In the back seat, the bulldog hunkered like a heathen idol, some magical toad with a ruby as large as a clenched fist in his head, glowing through his stoic eyes, an inscrutable snicker mystic upon his face" - that's one of the main characters, a b
...more
Andrew Nette
Jul 11, 2013 Andrew Nette rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
“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 out of a fine spring afternoon.”

I recently re-read James Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss. It was maybe my third or fourth time, I’m not sure.

Whatever the case, I came away from the book thinking two things.

Firstly, it probably has the greatest opening line of any book I’ve ever read.

Second, it may very well b
...more
Still
Apr 26, 2013 Still rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished it. It's late. Gotta get up at 8 in the a.m. to make to a used books sale by 10:00.
I don't know what I can say about this book. I'm in a state of awe.
If I have it in me I'll try to post a review this weekend.

I am staggered by the prose.
The story's just fine.
The writing is extraordinary.
Eddie Watkins
Oct 08, 2014 Eddie Watkins rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-fiction
Some hot ass shit.
Jon Ureña
Jan 17, 2016 Jon Ureña rated it it was amazing
It ticked many of my boxes: California, the seventies, nature, homelessness, obsession, loss, sadness, hopeless romance. I'm not into boozing and whoring around, but I somehow sympathize with characters who do.

Some of the most memorable characterization. At times tremendously well written. It felt like the writer needed to tell this story and poured himself into it. It left me with the kind of literary heartache that'll cause me to turn for a while to books on science and writing.

There were some
...more
Nigel
Apr 11, 2016 Nigel rated it it was amazing
World weary, alcohol fuelled and laconic - great writing and I loved it in short!

In long -
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 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 fre
...more
Feliks
Apr 04, 2016 Feliks rated it it was amazing
Shelves: genre-detective
This novel gets my undivided admiration for what I consider the finest work of modern American detective fiction--and I'm very tough to please. But its really without peer for what it sets out to do. The only other book I find comparable is 'Blue Belle' by Andrew Vachss--but Vachss works a slightly different side-of-the-street (that violent strain which nods towards Hammett). Crumley descends more so from the elegant Raymond Chandler. Regardless--for modern times, these are the two best works I ...more
Dave
Apr 29, 2016 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meet Private Detective C. W. Sughrue.

Private detectives are supposed to find missing persons and solve crimes. But more often than not Sughrue is the one committing the crimes – everything from grand theft auto to criminal stupidity. All washed down with a hearty dose of whisky and regret.

At the end of a three-week hunt for a runaway bestselling author, Sughrue winds up in a ramshackle bar, with an alcoholic bulldog. The landlady’s daughter vanished a decade ago and now she wants Sughrue to fin
...more
Mike
Apr 02, 2014 Mike rated it it was amazing
Excellent Crime/Mystery fiction from James Crumley. I had never heard of Mr. Crumley before reading this book; His style is vivid, intense, manic, brooding and magnificent!

Montana private detective CW Shugrue is a Viet Nam vet who lives in, on and around the fringes of society. A hard drinking, drug taking, good ol' boy with more guts than brains who has a knack for finding people, Shugrue is the perfect choice to track down author Abraham Trahearne on his lasted drunken bender. Once he finds t
...more
Randy
Nov 17, 2011 Randy rated it it was amazing
PI C. W. Sughrue gets hired by the ex-wife of a poet/novelist to find him ans shepherd him on his drunken rambling. C. W. spent three weeks touring from Montana down into most of the western states, checking every bar he crossed. Always just behind. He finally catches up in a bar in Sonoma, California just in time to get involved in a bar fight. The writer gets a flesh wound in the butt and has to spend a few days in the hospital.

While waiting, the woman who owns the bar asks him to look for her
...more
Luca Lesi
Aug 12, 2013 Luca Lesi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un grande libro, un hardboiled scritto in maniera mirabile come solo Il Grande Sonno di Raymond Chandler è riuscito.Se dovessi indicare, come nelle altre recensioni, una canzone, vengono in mente Isaac Hayes e il grande Marving Gay con lo splendido video di Inner City Blues (cliccate perchè merita)
Se vi piace questo tipo ti musica allora L'ultimo vero bacio è il vostro libro altrimenti leggetelo lo stesso perchè e semplicemente fantastico !
Scritto nel 1978, è un romanzo complesso ed articolato,
...more
Tim Niland
Feb 13, 2009 Tim Niland rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009-reads
C.W. Sughrue is a smalltime private investigator and bartender. When he gets a case that requires him to track down a wayward writer who is off on a drunken binge, he thinks little of it. But this case leads to another related one, a missing persons case that stretches Sughrue to his limits and beyond. While this was ostensibly a detective story, in reality it was much more a "dark night of the soul" type novel by the likes of Charles Bukowski with characters out of a Tom Waits album. Alcohol pl ...more
Bobbi
May 30, 2013 Bobbi rated it it was amazing
This book is like a roving party. All you remember by the end is impressions of different drunken faces as they got in and out of the car, the way the bars started to blur into one another, and the loss of major motor function as well as judgement. By the end of the night you're not sure where you are or where you were going, and the next morning you have the distinct feeling that you've done something you can't take back, ruined something terrible even though you didn't mean to. But on the othe ...more
Col
Apr 23, 2013 Col rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-read, 2013, c, 2008
Synopsis/blurb....

Tough, hard-boiled, and brilliantly suspenseful, The Last Good Kiss is an unforgettable detective story starring C. W. Sughrue, a Montana investigator who kills time by working at a topless bar. Hired to track down a derelict author, he ends up on the trail of a girl missing in Haight-Ashbury for a decade. The tense hunt becomes obsessive as Sughrue takes a haunting journey through the underbelly of America's sleaziest nightmares.

I first read this maybe 10 years or so ago and t
...more
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James Arthur Crumley was the author of violent hardboiled crime novels and several volumes of short stories and essays, as well as published and unpublished screenplays. He has been described as "one of modern crime writing's best practitioners", who was "a patron saint of the post-Vietnam private eye novel"and a cross between Raymond Chandler and Hunter S. Thompson.His book The Last Good Kiss has ...more
More about James Crumley...

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“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.” 38 likes
“...the sun rose each morning to stare into my face with the blank but touching gaze of a lovely retarded child.” 10 likes
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