Tuesday, 23 April 2013

JAMES CRUMLEY - THE LAST GOOD KISS


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 to be honest I didn’t enjoy it as much as I felt I ought to based on other people’s reactions and comments towards it. I almost felt like the little kid pointing out that the Emperor wasn’t actually wearing any clothes, rather than admiring the finery of his garb and the quality and cut of the cloth used. I’m not saying it wasn’t okay, I just had more an attitude of “is that it?”

 

Well fast forward those 10 years, join up to up a Pulp Fiction group on Goodreads and you get the opportunity to read it again as the April group read as voted for by the group members (but not me!)

 

Second time around it was maybe a wee bit better, but unforgettable? I doubt it, but you have to ask me in another 10.

 

Sughrue, our PI and main man is sent after an alcoholic poet and novelist by his ex-wife. Eventually after some meandering bar-hopping, he catches up with him, provoking a quarrel in the bar where Trahearne, our missing author gets shot in the ass. Whilst waiting out the week that Trahearne is hospitalised, Sughrue gets hired to look into the 10 year-old disappearance of Betty Sue Flowers – the bar owner’s daughter.

 

With Trahearne in tow, most of the time, Sughrue digs deeper into the disappearance of the girl. He pieces together remnants of her past, from appearing in a pornographic movie, spending time at a now derelict and abandoned hippy commune and some sporadic contact with her absent father in the intervening period.   

 

The quest seems to be concluded when our man is informed, at a help-centre for waifs and strays, of both the two and four-legged varieties, that Betty Sue died several years ago in a car accident. With the death certificate in hand, Sughrue returns to Rosie and her bar........mission accomplished.

 

Only it isn’t; cue more travelling, investigating, drinking, sex, secrets, enquiring, plot-twists, fighting, sleuthing, more drinking, driving, gun-play, issues with dysfunctional families and other things, before a finale.

 

In summary I enjoyed it and didn’t feel as if wasted valuable time re-reading it. It was far enough back in the past that I read it initially, that the memory banks weren’t second guessing the next twist in the tale. Not the best book I’ve read ever, not even the best book I’ve read in the past week. Some people may feel differently and that’s good........different strokes for different folks.

 

On the basis that it was a wee bit better than last time and the last time was a 3, I’ll have to give it a 4 from 5.

 

I had to purchase this copy from Amazon having disposed of my first some years ago.

 

 

           

 

4 comments:

  1. Col - Isn't it interesting how we see a book differently when we read it at another time in life? I'm glad you liked this one a bit better this time even if it isn't on your list of 'best books I have ever read.'

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    1. Margot, I'm guessing if I read it again in the future (not gonna happen!) my review would be different again. Cheers!

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  2. I share your feelings - I read this book a while back, after hearing it was one of the best crime stories ever, and I just couldn't agree with that. It felt pretty routine to me - enjoyable enough, but not special. But then we all have different tastes....

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    1. Hooray! I'm not on my own then, good not great - agreed!

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