I first started reading this book about a year and a half ago, based on my friend Connie‘s recommendation. I think I was a little fried on mysteries at that point (if you can believe it) – having just read a stack of Henning Mankell’s Wallander books – so the first 20 or so pages didn’t resonate with me. I mean, I knew I would like the book. It just wasn’t the right time to read it. It was a transitional period for me, too – I was changing jobs, dealing with some life stuff and this book was too close to the Raymond Chandler/Ross MacDonald mold for me. It didn’t grab me by the throat.
Fast forward to today and I feel really foolish for putting the book down in the first place. After soldiering through Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives — a book I thought I’d like much more than I did — I needed something comfortable. The Last Good Kiss is probably what I should have read after finishing Daniel Woodrell’s excellent Bayou Trilogy of novels, as it hits the same nerve. Crumley’s detective isn’t an alpha P.I., nor is he a Marlowe clone – in fact, he seems more like an ancestor to Woodrell’s own Rene Shade. He drunkenly stumbles through the story and the reader is left to follow behind, picking up the pieces as you go along.
I’m only about 70 pages in, so I can’t really speak to the plot or pacing just yet, but, damn, am I glad I picked this book up again.