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

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  3,324 ratings  ·  265 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 (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
95th out of 493 books — 573 voters
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha ChristieThe Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThe Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan DoyleThe Moonstone by Wilkie CollinsFarewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
Bloomsbury 100 Must Read Crime Novels
26th out of 154 books — 116 voters

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Community Reviews

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Paul Bryant

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
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
Dan Schwent
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
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.
Krok Zero
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
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
Bill  Kerwin

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.

Cathy DuPont
Jan 15, 2015 Cathy DuPont rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Tfitoby
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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
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
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
Gerard Cappa
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
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
Andrew Nette
“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
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.
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.
Tim Niland
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
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
Apr 23, 2013 Col rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2008, c, 2013, re-read

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
Luca Lesi
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,
Damaged people doing awful things to each other, often casually, occasionally less so. Weirdly plotted, but you'll like it. When you get to the end it's never quite the end. Funny, too: the conversations between Sugrue and Trahearne are hilarious, even despite what they're often talking about, which is all booze and guts and wars and whatnot. Then occasionally one or the both of them will say something brilliant. I like that the best.

I don't read a lot of hyper-masculine books, so when I get int
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
This is one of those that showed up on my hold shelf & I don't remember why. The premise was pretty intriguing & the book was good for the first half, but ultimately the drunken Trahearne character drove me to distraction & I found myself pretty unimpressed the predicament of Betty Sue.
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
Everyone Poops
A friend I barely knew at the time recommended this book to me and it's without a doubt one of the best hard-boiled novels I've read. CW Sugrue ("Shug-Roo") is Crumley's wisecracking PI, but, contemporaneous to the 70's, he's an Viet Nam vet and part-time bartender.

Like Marlowe and just about every PI since, Sugrue consumes obscene amounts of alcohol and falls in with people who he finds more fault with than we might, if for no other reason than because both detectives have an instinct for figu
There are a lot of Raymond Chandler homages out there; some of them mimic the atmosphere, some of them mimic the protagonist, and a lot of them do a poor job of both. I wonder if it's even possible to write a modern-day private eye novel without dealing with his shadow. Anyway, Crumley's book isn't really an aping, but it shares a lot of Chandler's preoccupations - shifting identities, sex for sale, California sleaze - and even if it mines the similar territory well, there's a feeling of familia ...more
Max Everhart
C.W. Sughrue is the ultimate noir PI. Vietnam vet. Hard-drinking. Good with his fists and guns. Strong moral compass. Sarcastic. Crumley's prose is amazing, the plot addictive. This is the noir PI novel to read. Crumley is better than Chandler, Hammett, Ellroy, and MacDonald. Read this one now.
Kurt Reichenbaugh
Sort of The Long Goodbye for the post-Vietnam-era 70's. This one is a meandering beer-and-whisky soaked road-trip seeking a missing author and a lost flower-child and a meaning for it all. Also one of the best opening lines ever.
Prácticamente de una sentada me he leído esta recomendación que me hacia hace un par de días Polako, sinaudiencero de pro. Justo estaba terminando un libro de la saga de Vorkosigan y me hacia falta un cambio de registro drástico, así que el paso de space opera a género negro sucio, era una buena opción.

Y aunque el protagonista C.W.Sughrue, es un detective privado, no es una novela detectivesca al uso de los años 40, si no una historia de desgraciados violentos que rozan diversos grados de alcoho
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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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C.W. Sughrue (4 books)
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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.” 36 likes
“...the sun rose each morning to stare into my face with the blank but touching gaze of a lovely retarded child.” 9 likes
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