'The poet laureate of hard-boiled literature, superior even to James Lee Burke in his ability to evoke extreme melancholy, gruesome violence and an acute sense of landscape... Deeply compelling' Guardian
Things are never straightforward for private detective C. W. Sughrue. A long-time recovering Vietnam veteran and prone to trouble, he’s finally enjoying a slower pace of life. Until, that is, his old friend - psychiatrist William Mackinderick - enlists his help in shadowing some of his patients.
Mackinderick suspects one of them may have taken highly confidential files from his office and he’s desperate to know who. But soon Sughrue’s not tracking them alive but dead, as one after the other they meet a gruesome end. Sughrue thought he’d seen it all before but he’s been proved wrong…madness knows no bounds.
At the start of Crumley's brilliant new hard-boiled detective novel, Montana PI C.W. Sughrue (introduced in the author's 1978 crime classic, The Last Good Kiss) is relaxing in a hot tub with his old buddy, psychiatrist William MacKinderick. Their team has just won the state championship in the over 50 softball league. Sughrue, whose body bears "more scars than a practice corpse," has even quit smoking. But when MacKinderick hires him to shadow some of his patients to see who may have taken personal files from his office, his old wild urges come roaring back. "I wanted another cigarette. So badly I couldn't remember why I had quit." Cigarettes, whiskey and cocaine all return to Sughrue's menu as one patient after another dies a gruesome death, and the reasons for the murders becomes less and less apparent. Soon Sughrue can threaten a bad guy with the warning, "I've got a hangover that would kill a normal man." Crumley shows his usual deft touch with poetic language (a shady lawyer boasts "a smile as innocent as the first martini") and humor ("I'm a private investigator, sir; I leave the blackmail to the lawyers"). The themes of nightmarish madness, betrayal and survival will glue readers to the page. Crumley remains one of the finest writers in the Raymond Chandler tradition.