Mr. Crumley’s plots did not always make perfect sense, but they probably were not meant to: in a world where nearly everyone is guilty of something heinous, finding out whodunit is largely beside the point. But if critics faulted his plotting, they routinely praised his complex, broken characters and hurtling, hard-edged prose.
“The Last Good Kiss,” widely considered Mr. Crumley’s masterwork, opens this way:
“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.”
Though Mr. Crumley’s books attracted a devoted readership, they were never best sellers.
I read Crumley’s first novel, One to Count Cadence about the time it came out in 1969. I’ve had a paperback edition ever since it came out. My oldest boy is reading it right now, in fact. The characters in his books were so clearly drawn that you could feel them and hear their voices. (This poem is where Crumley got the title for The Last Good Kiss, incidentally.)
I’ll miss him.