And so I finish the great road trip that is James Crumley’s mystery novel series featuring private eyes Milo Milodragovitch and CW Sughrue. While I didn’t like them as much as their most ardent fans do, I enjoyed my time going through all seven.
Apparently, it took a lot of prodding for Crumley to write this one. He wasn’t sure if he was going to do another after 2001’s The Final Country, which for my money is his best book and a tribute to Texas. I don’t know if he finished it because he felt compelled to bring Sughrue’s arc to a close the same way he had Milo’s. Frankly, I don’t find much difference between the two characters but either way, this is it for his whole universe. He died three years after it was published.
I don’t know if old age or cutting back on drinking helped him but this is one of the more focused Crumley efforts. I like his books a lot but his plots tend to meander as he loves dialogue and road trips. I’ve said in the past that I feel his books might be better if he wrote them from the perspective of a guy recounting a story on a barstool, because that’s what they feel like. Either way, this one is written just fine.
I did anticipate the twist but I didn’t anticipate the why of the crime, which was kind of clever. Nevertheless, you don’t read a Crumley to play sleuth. You read a Crumley to hang out in his world. This was a fun hang and because the plot was better executed than most, I appreciated it more. I’ll miss Crumley’s work and I hope to revisit a few sometime.
If I absolutely had to rank them…
- The Last Country
- Return of the Dancing Bear
- The Last Good Kiss
- The Right Madness
- The Wrong Case
- The Mexican Tree Duck